‘Better late than never:’ Riviera del Sol Neighborhood Park is decades in the making for the Otay Mesa community
It took 20 years, but San Diego leaders broke ground Tuesday on a $9.5 million neighborhood park called Riviera del Sol in Otay Mesa.
Residents who had moved into nearby homes built in the early 2000s were promised a park, but recurring funding issues caused the nearly 5-acre lot to remain empty — until now.
“Today is a great day for the Otay Mesa community, as a promise that was made to our residents decades ago is going to become a reality,” said Vivian Moreno, council member of District 8.
The Capital Improvements Program project for the park was created in June 2009, and the general development plan was approved in 2012, but the project was put on hold until late 2018, city officials said.
Now the revitalized 4.8-acre project calls for a basketball court, two playgrounds, fitness equipment, picnic shelters, restrooms, security lighting, benches, a park monument sign, landscaping, on-street parking for persons with disabilities and a crosswalk.
The same economic downturn that stalled the park’s construction brought Otay Mesa resident Felipe Nuño to the neighborhood in 2009, he said. Nuño joined the Otay Mesa Planning Group and was among many residents who lobbied City Council over the years to ensure the park was built.
“I was one of the beneficiaries of the real estate crash [and] was able to buy a short-sale home,” Nuño said.
“They look at the south of the city of San Diego and they don’t really pay attention to us,” he added. “So we have become very involved and are making a lot of voices so that we can be heard.”
The population of nearly 81,000 surrounding the park consists mostly of Latino, Asian or African American households, according to the San Diego Association of Governments.
“It’s finally happening,” Nuño said. “And let’s keep getting involved so these things keep happening for us and for the wellness and the good of our community.”
Moreno said it was because of the encouragement and determination of the community that the park finally came to fruition.
“I made a promise that I would fight for parks, streets, and our fair share of city resources,” Moreno added. “The fight doesn’t stop today. We have four more empty lots just like this one [where parks] need to be built and need to come to fruition in District 8.”
Mayor Todd Gloria said he was grateful for the community’s patience but said more has to be done so projects like those mentioned by Moreno happen at a faster pace in the coming years.
“We will do everything we can to make sure that this city’s amenities in this neighborhood match the greatness of the people of this neighborhood,” he said. “I hope that in the weeks and months ahead you see more parks, more road repairs, more infrastructure projects.”
Over the summer, Gloria and the council approved a new parks master plan that would dedicate much of the city’s funds for parks projects to park-deficient neighborhoods and historically underserved communities.
The $9.5 million for the Riviera del Sol park, which includes land acquisition, design, planning, construction and inspection, is being funded by Otay Mesa and the Otay Mesa West Facilities Benefit Assessment, city officials said.
Construction of the park, located at 4536 Riviera Shores St., is expected to be completed in spring 2023.