Pedestrian Path to Viña Vieja Park

June 28, 2015

The 2004 approved park plan included a pedestrian only entrance directly into the park from Avocado Ave at Las Lunas Street.

But during installation of fencing around what was to be the park, somebody got a buzz while on a ladder holding a metal pole.  Investigation by Edison led to the discovery (after many decades of plant nursery workers under those wires) that the east rank of high tension wires dip below the required height in that area.  There is too much distance between the towers.  As a result, Edison required that a chunk be removed from the planned park, including the only portion adjacent to Avocado Ave.  That eliminated the planned pedestrian entrance.

A temporary round-about pedestrian path was built instead, with hopes that a better arrangement could be worked out with Edison.
This dirt path started at a gate on Avocado Ave at Alameda Street, crossed west under the Edison high-tension wires over an easement the City holds, then turned north on city land to the south end of the park just outside the dog park area.

This rough path was extra long, dusty, desolate, and difficult to traverse for the handicapped and people with strollers.  As time passed, it became increasingly rutted.  The gates at Avocado Ave or at the park were frequently left locked when they were supposed to be open and frequently left open when they were supposed to be locked.  And starting on one end you didn't know if you'd get stuck at the other.
People were straying onto the open Edison weed fields south of the park and letting their dogs run loose.  As had been the case for decades prior, locals and/or homeless cut holes in the fence to Avocado Ave to facilitate access when the gate was locked.

As the City progressed with its plans to build an ice rink facility where the temporary path was, it became urgently in the city's interest to move that temporary path.

In 2009, agreement was finally reached with Edison on an alternative which is the current pedestrian path which starts on Avocado Ave at Las Lunas Street and runs north between the Edison lines and the backyards of residences into the park.

At the time there was some indication from Edison that they would put in an additional tower to raise the "too low" power lines while they would have equipment in the area for adding a circuit on the western rank in 2013.  If that had happened, the park boundary could have been extended to the 2004 approved plan.  But it did not happen and there is no prospect of it ever happening.

Rhonda Stone, the Field Representative for then Council member Steve Haderlein spear headed the long effort to design the new path and get it implemented.  The new path opened in October 2009.  (The ice rink plan was eventually killed due to funding problems.)

The lack of outside visibility to/from the path is a security concern.  This is recognized, but this is reportedly the only type of fencing material Edison will allow due to electrical conductivity issues and the proximity to "too low" power lines.  The fence is supposed to keep people out of the non-park Edison area, so it can't be a split rail or other open type fence.  Of course, it is easily and often broken by vandals.  And it gets very fragile - some of it blew apart in the November 30-December 1, 2011 wind storm.

The plantings in the landscape buffer along the eastern side of most of the path are called Hopseed Bush.  Along the south end of the path adjacent to Avocado Ave are Blue Oat Grass.  There is a 20' gap in plantings in the middle of the area because Edison insisted that was necessary to maintain access to the small telephone pole on the neighbor's property on the other side of a 6' wall.

Gates on Avocado and at the park boundary are to be closed and locked each night by the city contracted security firm.  Public Works or contracted maintenance crews are expected to open them in the morning.

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