Santa Monica City Hall (File photo)

The City parks department is holding a pop-up event at Clover Park Sunday from noon until 2 p.m. to get feedback on parks in Santa Monica. The city will continue to hold events and community meetings all summer to collect input for a new Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The plan was last updated in 1997.

For city staff, getting the word out about current programming is also part of the plan.

“For my young family, the playground partnership with the school district is a treasured resource,” said Planning Commissioner Jason Perry this week when the commission received an update on the process. “We will walk to our local elementary school on the weekend and often we have the whole place to ourselves. I look at that and I wonder if that’s a resource that could be tapped into a little bit more.”

The plan will establish the framework for parks, open space, the beach and recreation programs for the next twenty years. Residents can attend a meeting in person or fill out a map-based survey and mapping out where they live, work, and play throughout the city at The city will then host community workshops beginning in August.

“Historically, Santa Monica has never had enough parks and people have always complained so good luck with that,” said Chair Nina Fresco. Fresco said she hopes the city will not overly program parks in the future, to give residents space to escape busy urban life.

A 2016 Los Angeles County assessment determined Santa Monica was “park poor” even though 72 percent of the population lives within a half-mile of a park. Overall there are 134 acres of park for about 92,500 residents. The needs assessment determined neighborhoods between Montana Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard to have the biggest need for parks. The survey did not take the beach into account when calculating park acres.

Commissioner Richard McKinnon said the City must take downtown’s development plans into consideration when planning access to open space.

“We are going to have a denser downtown going forward. We are going to use the (Expo) line. There are more apartments going in there. There will be a need for more open space, both green and paved, going forward. That has to be an essential element in what we do,” McKinnon said.

Staff hopes to have a draft of the Master Plan to present to the City Council for approval by August 2019. In the meantime, there are several plans to expand park space already in the pipeline. For example, the City is also looking for input on the two-acre expansion of Memorial Park.

The design process to add 12 more acres to Santa Monica Airport Park is nearly complete. Converting non-aviation land to a park will cost about $35 million and will include two multipurpose fields, an extended walking loop, fitness area, 3 pickleball courts, community gardens, ping pong tables, restrooms, and swings.

Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press