The city picked up another pocket park Tuesday.
City officials unanimously agreed to accept ownership of the small
blufftop park and an access road that was carved out of the old
Smithcliffs estate when the 10.4-acre site was approved for development
by the California Coastal Commission in 1991.
A gate to the park, allegedly welded closed at an unknown date by the
Smithcliffs Homeowners Assn., will remain locked for 90 days while the
association and McKnight Drive residents discuss the issue with the city
and try to come up with some solutions to their concerns about the public
“I can’t imagine any trade-off that would be of comparable value, but
if someone at Smithcliffs can come up with a valuable notion, maybe we
can revisit this,” said Councilman Paul Freeman.
Smithcliffs residents claim the gate was welded closed and the pathway
partially removed to prevent loitering, littering and possible
“When you walk along the path, you can look into bedrooms of some of
the homes,” said Darrin Trudeau. “They look and say, I want that.”
Smithcliffs homeowners also said the park itself is unsafe. They said
a girl fell from the cliff and broke her leg and other accidents are
McKnight Drive resident Jeanette Merrilees doesn’t oppose the public
pathway, but she doesn’t want the city to pay for its restoration.
“The current title holder is responsible to remove the gate and
restore the area,” said Merrilees.
City staff has estimated that the restoration will cost in the
neighborhood of $60,000. Maintenance is expected to cost the city about
$25,000 a year. The annual fee does not include police time to lock the
gate and Public Works Department time to open it, as is done at the
Heisler Park restrooms.
The acquisition of the Smithcliffs Park from the county conforms to
the city’s general plan, according to the Planning Commission, which
reviewed the matter April 10.
Resident Ann Weisbrod brought the welded gate to the attention of the
“When I discovered it, I felt angry and betrayed,” said Weisbrod, a
longtime supporter of environmental causes, including public access to
“Can you imagine how (Greenbelt founder) Jim Dilley would feel about
this?” Weisbrod said. “It is wrong to close off public access to the
place where the seals are so close you can see their faces and their