By Sarah Boyer
South Bay Program Manager
Institute for Public Strategies
Chula Vista is known for its vibrant community spirit.
The community is taking a bold step toward enhancing the well-being of its residents by addressing the challenges faced by local parks and the challenges faced by residents without access to them.
Recently, the Chula Vista City Council made a significant decision to re-open Harborside Park, a move that symbolizes the commitment to transforming public spaces. The decision, coupled with a comprehensive community-led initiative, aims to revitalize parks, reduce substance abuse, and create safer environments for everyone.
The Chula Vista Revitalization Committee is supporting efforts to increase community engagement and address issues of drug and alcohol-related harms within park boundaries. The strategy involves multiple prevention initiatives, strategic planning, and creating positive change.
One key aspect of this initiative is supporting local collaborative efforts to revitalize parks perceived as unsafe due to reports of alcohol and drug usage. By actively participating in strategic planning meetings, the community is empowered to voice concerns and propose solutions. This inclusive approach encourages residents to take ownership of their parks and instills a sense of pride in contributing to community well-being.
This collaboration plays a crucial role in helping to prevent Substance Use Disorder-related issues, including overdoses. Utilizing Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles and offering technical assistance in this area further enhances the safety and usability of public spaces. The CPTED guidelines in a park setting call for more lighting, increased visibility, sightlines from the street and designs that deter vandalism, loitering and criminal behavior.
This collaborative effort will ensure that parks become spaces where families can gather, children can play safely, and residents can enjoy the outdoors without fear. The Revitalization Committee is working to address issues such as graffiti by encouraging mural installations in parks.
This not only adds aesthetic value to the surroundings but also involves local youth, staff, parents, and students in the revitalization process. Their input becomes instrumental in shaping the identity of the parks and fostering a sense of community ownership.
Highlighting efforts with community members, youth, and local park rangers is essential to showcase the commitment to revitalizing parks. Specifically, addressing substance use and overdoses in parks in the South Bay region emphasizes the comprehensive nature of the initiative. By involving various stakeholders, the community ensures a holistic approach to tackling these challenges.
The use of data is crucial in supporting these community change strategies. Results of a community survey focused on parks, where community members identified Otay Valley Regional Park as unsafe and underutilized, provide valuable insights. Additionally, crime data and calls for service related to several parks in the South Bay region help tailor interventions to specific needs, ensuring that resources are allocated where they are most needed.
The Chula Vista community's commitment to revitalizing local parks is commendable, and the decision to re-open Harborside Park is a significant step forward. Prevention initiatives and data-driven strategies underscore the dedication to creating safer and more vibrant public spaces. By engaging the community, addressing substance use, and utilizing CPTED principles in outdoor design, Chula Vista is paving the way for a healthier, more connected city where parks are true assets to all residents.
IPS works alongside communities to build power, challenge systems of inequity, protect health and improve quality of life. IPS has a vision for safe, secure, vibrant and healthy communities where everyone can thrive.
To learn more about IPS South Bay, visit the website at https://ipssouthbay.org/ and follow on social media platforms Instagram and Facebook. South Bay Youth 4 Change (SBY4C) is on Instagram and Facebook. Follow Envision Broadway on its website, Instagram and Facebook.
Resources and services are available to assist with screening, treatment, and recovery for individuals with a substance use disorder via the Access & Crisis line, which is open year-round, 24/7 at (888) 724-7240 or dial 988.