Vera Cruz Park on the east side of Santa Barbara is now the permanent home of the Santa Barbara Trapeze Co.
The Parks and Recreation Commission on Wednesday unanimously backed a one-year contract, with an option of up to three years.
About 60% of the park will be occupied by the trapeze company and the rest will be open space.
The city radically changed the way it manages the park by partnering with the trapeze company. The park, which once had a playground, earned the nickname “needle park” because drug use and loitering regularly took place there.
In 2018, attorney Barry Cappello sent a letter to the city requesting a public hearing to resolve the issue. He represented a family whose 4-year-old boy was pricked by an abandoned hypodermic needle he found on the park’s play structure. The child had to undergo a series of drug treatments to prevent HIV and hepatitis, and the incident sparked local outrage.
Parks and Recreation Director Jill Zachary responded by clearing the playground and searching for suitors at the site to disrupt activity.
The Santa Barbara Trapeze Co. had set up shop at Earl Warren Showgrounds for years, but moved closer to downtown to be closer to people and passers-by.
The park is fenced, but people are supposed to be able to enter the fence through an unlocked gate during opening hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday at 11:00 a.m. the park was closed and locked and there was no trapeze. Activities.
The trapeze company is already using the space under a short-term contract and has won favor with the city by offering scholarships. Over the past 10 months, the company has served 279 youth summer camp participants and 700 youth and adults.
It also pays the city a portion of its revenue – about $9,765 in net revenue so far, and an additional $17,503 for contracted landscape maintenance, which has allowed the Parks Division to reallocate resources. staffed at other city parks. The Santa Barbara Trapeze Co. was the only company to respond to the city’s tender.
“For the city, it looks like a win-win,” Commissioner Sebastian Aldana said. “I hope it will be successful. It looks like it will be. It looks like a good plan.”
Commissioner Beebe Longstreet said that in the past there had been a lot of effort to clean up this park and “it just wasn’t happening”.
“I’m so happy to see this area returned to a positive use for the public,” she said.
Longstreet responded to concerns that the city was “privatizing” an urban park by leasing it to a private company. She said the parks and recreation department has shrunk and the city will likely do more to partner with private companies to provide services, especially camps.
At Vera Cruz Park, Longstreet said trapeze equipment and fencing around the park made the park safer.
“It’s always good to see something new working,” Longstreet said. “I don’t think we should be afraid to try this in the future.”
tree to stay
The commission also voted 5-0 to deny a landlord’s request to cut down a Mexican fan palm in front of his apartment building on city property at De la Guerra Plaza.
The tree, at 624 East de la Guerra Plaza, is on the corner of Storke Plaza. The tree stump rests against the side of a building owned by Washington resident John Chaffee.
In his request to the city, he wrote, “There is a Storke Placita palm tree on the corner of our building and is growing around or possibly in the corner of the building, threatening the structure of the building.”
The city’s urban forest superintendent, Nathan Slack, however, found no evidence that the tree was damaging the building. Prior to the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, the Street Tree Advisory Committee had also recommended denial of the request to remove the tree.
Chaffee had also provided a letter from a structural engineer suggesting the tree should be removed.
“There will always be a fundamental divide between the structural engineer and the plant expert, whether there really is a problem or not,” Slack said.