Students in local public schools and their parents and coaches are trying desperately to get the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District to add lacrosse as an official sport at Santa Monica High School. It’s not that Athletic Director Daniel Escalera hates lacrosse. He seems more than willing to add it to the school’s offerings. The problem is the school district is strapped for cash and even more strapped for open space.
The Daily Press supports any effort to add more extra-curricular activities, but we also understand the district’s position. This lacrosse effort is a perfect example of why this community needs to dedicate more resources to creating open space. Santa Monica has many parks, but not enough ball fields. The Airport Park and the resurfacing of John Adams Middle School’s athletic fields with artificial turf were commendable steps toward expanding Santa Monica’s open space, but they are clearly not enough to satisfy demand.
And it’s not just the kids. Adults too have complained to the Daily Press about a lack of space for weekend warriors looking to relive their youth by playing in soccer, softball and flag football leagues. For a community that talks an awful lot about being green, we need to start dedicating more greenbacks to creating green space. City Hall-owned property in the Civic Center and Downtown could be transformed into parks that also include ball fields. Parking lots on the beach could also be turned into temporary ball fields during off-peak periods. City Hall had the wisdom to replace concrete with a grass-hybrid at a beach lot in Ocean Park, the move providing more open space while catching urban runoff before it hits the beach. We need to continue with this creative thinking and look at other areas that could accommodate shared-uses.