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The Kelly Street Park Conundrum
Plus: Upcoming Community Events, Phuong Trang Vietnamese Restaurant on Convoy, and The Great Wall of Fashion Valley
Kelly Street Neighborhood Park is relatively small in size (only 17 acres) but this Linda Vista city venue looms large in presenting a set of perplexing problems. These problems have resulted in denying local residents the opportunity to fully enjoy a park’s potential for family oriented fun and relaxation. Though everyone thinks of a park as being an innocent haven of green grass, recreation and exercise equipment, benches/tables for family BBQ’s, and jogging/walking paths, any serious discussion of Kelly Street Park (located at 6626 Kelly Street) inevitably results in conversations pertaining to fear, crime, and homelessness, not the characteristics usually associated with typical neighborhood parks.
Kelly Street Park sits in-between a couple apartment complexes and Tecolote Canyon—a small enclave in a working class neighborhood. If you were new to the area and immediately thrust into this park on a typical sunny San Diego day, you might first marvel at the stunning views of the canyon and the calm nature of the setting. You could use the concrete path that loops the interior of the park for a nice walk or jog, or if more strenuous exercise is desired you might take advantage of a couple paths that lead down from the park’s rim and venture forth into Tecolote Canyon.
But upon closer inspection, you would probably start to notice a couple of things about the park, like the exceptionally sparse kid’s playground equipment, as well as the lack of a parking lot for visiting cars. If you spent any more time there you would eventually want to use the restrooms; unfortunately, you might choose to avoid these facilities, depending on whether a number of homeless people had taken refuge inside or have left trash/unidentified debris strewn on the floor. As you stood on the rim of the park to further admire the views of the canyon, you would probably notice a few more homeless people making their way into the park. Depending on your curiosity or concern, you might happen to “Google” Kelly Street Park on your cell phone, where you would in all likelihood encounter news entries detailing the incidents of gang violence that took place there three years before. This reputation for gang violence, whether deserved or not, has persisted. And as your concern for personal safety grew, you would start to notice how the park seems to be cut off from the rest of the neighborhood, and not in a good way, with a relatively narrow entrance to the park serving as the only access point to nearby Kelly Street traffic. The park’s design can sometimes create an uncomfortable feeling for visitors.
These are some of the problems that local residents have encountered when visiting Kelly Street Park. Though it is conveniently located for the young families inhabiting the numerous apartments surrounding the area, the park is largely avoided because of the many security concerns outlined above, as well as for the poor reputation it has developed resulting from past gang violence. Needless to say, it is unfair to the residents of the neighborhood that a park with such potential instead serves as a microcosm for some of the major ills vexing many American cities.
Many Linda Vista residents are unaware of this particular park, which is not located on a major thoroughfare (it’s about a quarter mile from Linda Vista Road). Unless one lives in the neighborhood, an LV resident might not ever have reason to visit this part of town and/or the secluded park, especially since the park does not have a parking lot. However, the state of the park comes as no surprise to the City or the media. In 2017, San Diego officials, while recognizing that 100 million dollars in funds were needed to renovate a host of City parks, identified Kelly Street Park as one of fourteen parks determined to be in “worst condition” status. In a June 2020 article of the San Diego Reader, Kelly Street Park was included in an article titled San Diego’s Deadliest Parks due to the gang-related shootings that occurred there in 2019. And, in 2020, Kelly Street Park was identified by the City as one of 28 San Diego parks in “poor condition.”
Some in Linda Vista have tried to change the perception of Kelly Street Park. For example, the San Diego Police Department’s Gang Intervention Unit regularly hold sports competition/games at the park. Stop by on Wednesday afternoon and you will see SDPD Officer Ricardo Pinon and LV volunteers like Melissa Musicha working with LV youngsters as they practice their soccer skills on the park’s grass field. They hope to make the park more usable by setting a good example of park participation.
And, since assuming office last year, City Councilmember Raul Campillo has done his part to provide a solution to the problems plaguing Kelly Street Park, having recently secured $400,000.00 in City funds to formulate plans for renovating the venue; such renovation will occur when more City funds become available sometime in the future. However, in a recent Community Outreach meeting designed to solicit resident ideas for new park equipment (i.e., benches, tables, playground equipment, etc.) as a first step in the renovation process, Councilmember Campillo listened to numerous resident comments regarding the inability of families to frequent the park due to security concerns. Local residents expressed a strong desire to see their concerns immediately addressed, while still recognizing that new equipment and designs are needed and must be obtained as soon as possible. Everyone in attendance agreed that a neighborhood can’t take advantage of new park equipment without people feeling the park is a safe place to frequent. In this vein, Campillo did suggest the possibility of redesigning the park to “open it up”, to include the addition of a parking lot, as a way of enhancing public safety, though this could not occur until funding is provided by the City. (Councilmember Campillo will host a second Community Outreach meeting on May 11 to solicit community feedback for recommended park renovations. See the poster in this newsletter’s “Upcoming Community Events” section below)
If local Linda Vista leaders are looking for a challenge requiring a collective approach to a complicated problem, Kelly Street Park seems to be a worthy one to address. “How can the park be re-taken for the use of neighboring families (while still respecting the rights of the homeless population)?” is a question worth addressing. Could different LV organizations begin to conduct regular events at the park and establish a greater positive presence? Are there other imaginative (and non-costly ways) to provide better public safety? Hopefully, a collaboration of Linda Vista leaders/organizations, aided by City resources, can come up with a satisfactory approach. Furthermore, if the City can reorder its spending priorities, the requirement to renovate Kelly Street Park should be immediately moved to the top of the priorities list.
Upcoming Community Events
—LV Farmers’ Market: The Love, Linda Vista Farmer’s Market will hold its inaugural Farmers’ Market this afternoon (Thursday May 5) from 1:00pm to 6:00pm. It will be held in the parking lot of the Linda Vista Plaza Shopping Plaza. Come on out and help make this Farmers’ Market a big success.
—Fish Fry: The Knights of Columbus is sponsoring a Fish Fry this Friday (May 6) at Holy Family Catholic Church (1957 Coolidge Street). The Fish Fry will be held from 4:00 pm to 7:00pm. Take out orders are available.
—Kelly Street Park Community Outreach: On Tuesday May 11 (from 6:00 pm to 7:30pm), District 7 Councilmember Raul Campillo will host his second Community Outreach meeting to collect resident feedback on possible improvements needed for Kelly Street Park. Don’t miss this opportunity to offer Councilmember Campillo your suggestion on new park equipment. Please see the below poster for further details.
—Fire Safe Your Place Event: The Coastal Canyon Fire Safe Council will be sponsoring a Community Safety Event on May 21. Check the below poster for details.
Phuong Trang Vietnamese Restaurant on Convoy
After a long day that included a YMCA workout, appointments, grocery shopping, and some odds and ends, we were ready to relax and have someone else do the cooking for us. Accordingly, we decided to take a run up to Convoy Street (aka the Convoy District) and see if something struck us as interesting. I was looking for a Yakitori restaurant but could not find one. We then turned into one of the parking lots at a strip mall on Convoy Street and came across Phuong Trang Vietnamese Restaurant. We parked and quickly looked it up on the internet; and according to the website, the New York Times indicated it was the leading Vietnamese restaurant in San Diego. The article said it has over 248 appetizers, soups, noodle dishes and main courses. That sounded good enough for us, so we decided to give it a try.
We arrived early in the evening and there were only a few tables taken, which concerned me. It is a very large restaurant. However, by the time we left, the restaurant had filled up with families and couples, and a steady stream of customers came in and were picking up take-out orders.
The menu is very extensive. Of course, they have Pho and many other soups, including hot pots. They have beef chicken, pork, tofu and shrimp dishes. Also on the menu, broken rice, all kinds of noodle dishes including soft egg noodles, wide noodles, vermicelli, udon noodles, stir fried noodles, noodle bowls, noodle soup, many appetizers including fried egg rolls, spring rolls, veggie hot chili sauce rolls, crepes, and seafood specials including catfish sauteed in fish sauce. They also have salads, vegetarian dishes, and desserts.
I decided to try something different —Bu Chao Tom—which was a vermicelli noodle bowl with char-grilled ground shrimp in sugar cane. This dish consisted of round rice noodles with shredded lettuce, cucumbers, bean sprouts, carrots, mint, crushed peanuts, fish sauce and coconut milk. I enjoyed it, although the taste of the ground shrimp sugar cane was unusual. All the veggies were fresh and aromatic. The noodles were excellent. I ate the whole bowl and it was a filling dish. Cost was $12.95.
Steve had Hu Tieu Ap Chao Hoac Mi Xao Tom – Stir fried noodles with shrimp. He chose soft egg noodles. This was a stir fry with baby bok choy, broccoli, carrots, and onions in garlic sauce. It was $13.95 and you can see from the picture that it was plentiful. The shrimp were very large and perfectly cooked. Steve liked his meal very much and we decided we would definitely come here again and try some of the other 200+ items.
The staff was very friendly and explained to me that I had to add the coconut milk on the table to my dish or I would probably have drank it like a beverage.😂. We didn’t have room for desserts, but they looked very appealing.
Our carnivore sidekick is busy getting ready for finals and was not able to join us, but hopefully will for our next venture. Parking was plentiful as the restaurant is located in a large strip mall.
4170 Convoy Street
San Diego, CA 92111
Open Wednesday thru Monday 11:00 am to 8:00pm
The Great Wall of Fashion Valley
“I’m going to see the Great Wall of Fashion Valley.” At the risk of going out on a limb, I suggest these words have probably never been spoken within the local Linda Vista area. However, as I recently found out, Linda Vista—and more precisely Fashion Valley—just might be the site of one of the…if not, the highest soil nail retaining walls in all of California. And local residents have a limited amount of time to observe this local site before it becomes forever hidden from view.
If you are a student of history and/or architecture, there are three imposing wall structures that readily come to mind, and none of them are located anywhere near Linda Vista. Yes, China has the Great Wall. Germany had the Berlin Wall. And England still has segments of the famous Roman fortification, Hadrian’s Wall. However, China’s tourism is currently hampered by a COVID lockdown; the Berlin Wall is long gone, and quite frankly, Hadrian’s Wall was only twelve feet high back in its heyday. Considering those three facts, I think it’s safe to say that Linda Vista currently—and for a limited time only--offers us a better opportunity to witness an imposing wall structure—one that is a hundred feet high!
As you may have already noticed, a major construction project has been going on along Friars Road, across the street from the Fashion Valley Mall. Fairfield Residential plans to bring 316 one and two bedroom apartments to the area. Completion date is expected to be in mid-2024. The complex will be called Rivair.
I am sure the complex will look great upon its completion. But what is most amazing right now is the retaining wall that has been built against the steep slope running up to the Fashion Hills townhouses sitting on the valley rim. As we learned from Fairfield Residential construction representatives, this soil nail retaining wall is no ordinary wall. It is one hundred feet high at its highest point (take that, little Hadrian’s Wall) , which gives it the distinction of being one of the highest soil nail retention walls in the state. They are checking to see if it is actually the highest! Soil nail retention walls are used in areas where landslides can be a problem. The design uses steel reinforcement bars and anchors them to the soil 3-6 feet deep. When the 2 apartment buildings are eventually built, there will be a six-inch gap between the buildings and the wall. Unfortunately, by the time that occurs, the wall will no longer be observable from Friars Road. The apartment buildings will dominate the scene.
So appreciate the Great Wall of Fashion Valley while you can, folks! As you drive through Friars Road, marvel at the wall’s immense height. Take pride that our community has such a distinguished landmark. Feel free to brag to friends living in other parts of California that this soil nail retaining wall is in all likelihood taller than the one located in their respective town. But remember, there will come a time in the near future when the Wall becomes a distant memory, still in existence but hidden from view, like the treasures hidden within the chambers of an ancient Pyramid.
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The Linda Vista Update is a weekly digital newsletter that publishes informative, interesting and fun news about Linda Vista and its neighboring communities.