Time To Take Back South City Park

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Redding police are asking citizens to report any suspicious activity at South City Park, at the corner of Cypress Avenue and Pine Street, which has become a magnet for criminal activity.

During October and November, police responded to an amazing 730 calls at the park for everything from stabbings and fights, to robberies, indecent exposure and vandalism. Most of these calls have occurred during daylight hours. Police have made more than 100 arrests this year at the park, which is located at the corner of South Market Street and Cypress Avenue, near City Hall. Police and city crews often find hypodermic needles and broken meth pipes on the playground. The police used to have a substation in the park, but budget cuts forced the substation’s closure.

I’m not about to wade into the City of Redding’s budget priorities or police staffing levels. All I know is that bad guys shouldn’t be allowed to take over a park. Parks are intended to serve the needs of law-abiding people, especially kids who need places to run, play and explore.

I frequent parks in Redding and all over, because I too need places to run, play and explore (and because I have a wonky interest in public spaces and landscape architecture). It’s not hard for my untrained eye to spot people who are up to no good in a park. I’m not talking about a homeless person sleeping on a bench. I’m talking about the guy sitting in a car who keeps cracking his window to make “transactions” with people who come and go quickly. I’m talking about the guy who hangs around the restroom for 20 minutes.

I say it’s time to take back South City Park. It’s an important facility for baseball and softball players of many ages. It’s a place where kids from the Garden Tract and Parkview neighborhoods should be able to play without any worries about broken glass or shady characters. It’s a place where a girl should be able to sit quietly under a tree and read a book from the nearby library.

No need to go vigilante here. Just use your eyes, ears and judgment, and give the cops a call when something doesn’t look right. The number is 225-4200. If the situation is urgent, dial 911. The park belongs to everyone.

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• Speaking of the library … the City of Redding is considering adopting a formal policy for the use of public forum area outside the library. Various folks like to solicit support for causes outside the library. They also like to distribute annoying pieces of advertising. The proposed policy would allow all the usual free speech but would prohibit people from hawking stuff or tucking a flyer under your windshield wiper. Contact the library to learn more.

• National Influenza Vaccination Week concludes this Saturday, December 11. That means there still is time to get a flu shot – before all those holiday gatherings in stuffy rooms full of coughing and sneezing people. The Shasta County Public Health agency has flu shots at all of its offices, as do some pharmacies and doctors’ offices. Read up at www.shastaflushots.com, and I promise I won’t nag you again.

shigley-mugshotPaul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and was a .400 hitter in Little League. Well, almost .400. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at pauls.anewscafe@gmail.com.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment.

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has been a professional journalist since 1987. For 12 years, he served as editor or senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a statewide trade publication for land use planners, real estate development professionals and attorneys. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter or editor at newspapers in Redding, Grass Valley, Napa and Calistoga. Shigley's work also has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Planning magazine, Governing magazine, California Law Week, National Speed Sport News and elsewhere. In addition, he is co-author of Guide to California Planning, a college text and reference book, and is currently working on a book for the American Planning Association about the Bay Delta and California water resources. A graduate of California State University, Sacramento, Shigley has contributed to A News Cafe since 2009. He and his wife, Dana, live in western Shasta County.
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16 Responses

  1. Avatar roxanna zalesny says:

    Have you considered the potential danger of being there to report this actiivity? I'm all for citizen action but not willing to risk my neck for it. If they've taken over the park (now commonly referred to as "Junkie Park"), then the police will need to be a "presence" for a period of time to clean it up enough so that regular citizens can be safe to be there at all. Then what you suggested might work to keep it turning bad again.

  2. Avatar Biff says:

    Working nearby, I have walked through South City Park many times on my break time. I have seen people drinking and smoking pot there, large groups of rowdy people. I have seen many people sleeping there in the warmer months, especially in the morning. I would assume these are mostly transient people based upon their general degree of dishevelment, but it's hard to tell. Maybe it's proximity to the two main non-profit homeless assistance providers has something to do with the situation. Just speculation.

    A major problem with the park is that there is no public window on the space, it sits 15 feet below Market St, and is divided from Cypress by a wall and fence. The ball field and it's fencing further divide the park from Grape St, as does the Library from Parkview. It's the perfect place to go if you don't want to be seen.

    Further, people often jay walk across the divided lanes of Cypress between Safeway and the park, instead of walking up the road to use the cross walk. I almost ran someone over when I was driving around the bend from Market to Cypress. Yikes!

    I would not recommend that people visit the park, just based on personal safety principles. There's a nice paved walking area that parallels Market St, but is sits so far below the street that I often feel there would be nowhere to run if you needed help.

    Yes, South City park is scary. No, families shouldn't go there.

    It's a sign of the times, a reflection of our society at large. It's a ghetto world out there and it's probably going to only get worse with the failed economy.

  3. Three cheers for efforts to take back South City Park! I live nearby and am too chicken to go there alone.

    Thanks for the report, Shig. We can always count on your Take-Out Window to bring us newsy stuff.

  4. Avatar Biff says:

    Maybe we could hold a candle light vigil or a picnic-in or something at the park to show interest??

  5. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    Paul…good article. My wife and I walked through there after going to the book sale at the city library enroute to the Damburger for a classic burger, A young man walked across Cypress with us and then gave us a " God bless you" before he walked back across the street.

    South City Park will be safe with more young men and women the likes of this lad and others like him. God bless you.

    We will take back this beautiful park for all to enjoy !

  6. Avatar Karen C says:

    It's a known fact that if you play classical music in a bad area, the bad will leave. Why not give it a try….RPD, has in the past, suggested this very thing and it worked.

  7. Avatar I love Karen :) says:

    Just Kidding Karen 🙂 But Seriously how about a TAKE OUR PARKS BACK night?

    i know our civic servants are stretched thin and certainly would not consider being the first to play Bach on a bench, but this is our town.

    Just a thought.

  8. Avatar Tyrone F. Horneigh, says:

    How about the idea of staging organized community art, music, and comedy presentations at the park? Perhaps that would at least counter-balance and maybe neutralize some of the bad activity going on around there now.

    Currently it appears police and questionable characters are the only ones ever there.

  9. Avatar Anonymous heckler says:

    By all accounts, South City Park's been rough … well, forever. Losing the immediate police presence can't help, but it's not as if this is new. You might recall back in 2008, the previous police chief wanted to write it off and build a new police station there.

  10. Avatar Al says:

    I was working in transportation for 12 years all over Redding and the problem tripled when the size of the mission tripled. Everyone is required to leave during the daylight hours (hmmmm?) so what is the next place to go? This attracts other vermin. If you chase them out of the parks they will find another place. Maybe if the mission would let everyone using their service, stay there all day.

    Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea for a new Police Station there. I would be more comfortable when my kids are at the library if it was.

    But first fix the problem at the source.

    Al

  11. Avatar Cynthia says:

    I live downtown. I choose to live downtown to be walking distance to the library, to the grocery store, to the farmers market, to the downtown portion of the art hop, to my sons karate class, I can walk or bicycle anywhere that I need to go. I agree whole heartedly and would welcome folks who would like to clean up south city park. We can have picnics, encourage music events, encourage the good citizens of Redding not to just sit idly by and allow thieves to take what is rightfully theirs. Do not allow the beautiful park to degrade more but come out enmass to occupy space that would otherwise be taken by criminals and drug addicts. This is a beautiful park with mature trees, facilities, ball fields, tennis courts and so much more to offer the families living downtown. Lets get together and reclaim this part of town – no fear, no compromise. I have often chased off "nasties" to allow my children the right to play in their neighborhood park. Lets all take responsibility and make downtown Redding that much nicer.

  12. Avatar Tyrone F. Horneigh, says:

    Of course there are mission people in the park. Where else should they go? We need to think beyond that.

    Just get out there, it's a nice place! Why not hold public events and promotions there. Go utilize the park! If average family folk use SCP more and more regularly, riff-raff problems will decrease. Redding has only one decent size park on the south side and it's a crown Jewel with trees, ball diamonds and tennis courts. Yet the intimidation of a few, and lack of public interest seem to supress it's use.

    Show spirit and creativity and stop complaining Redding! Get out and use South City Park. Problems there can easily turn into solutions. For example; consider the idea of SCP Tennis Tournaments.

    The notion of converting such a beautiful piece of real estate into a police station because nobody knows what to do with it is backward and dreadful.

  13. Avatar Al says:

    As long as I am sharing my knowledge of what is going on in Redding. Does anyone besides me know that just about every Thursday a prison bus arrives at the Armory with parolees. Some get picked up and others just get absorbed by Redding. Did you know the county gets paid for adding these parolees to our community. Just check it out Thursday mornings. They may change it now that I have spilled the beans.

    Al

    • Avatar Budd Hodges says:

      Al…You wouldn't make a good reporter. Your information about the state dropping off prisoners at the National Guard Armory is false. I live across the street from the guard and it isn't so.

      Ex cons have to be released to their county of origin and not just Redding.

      You've, perhaps, confused this with the now defunct program of requiring newly released cons to attend a one time meeting of information on the first Thursday of the month at the armory of all Shasta county new releases, The program provided info on finding a job, obtaining food stamps, condoms and proventing drug addiction from county agencies.

      Cons arrive back, 70% return to the joint, on a greyhound with money given to them by the state. Their stopping point is the terminal in downtown Redding, They're all from Shasta County.

      The only busses coming and going from the armory are chartered to transport guardsmen and women to training areas.

  14. Avatar Joanne Lobeski Snyde says:

    In the 30 years I've been in Redding, South Park has been an underutilized and unsafe place to be. It's on the route from the Mission to Safeway, it's not safely accessed by any local community. It's hemmed in by major, loud traffic. Having grass and trees doesn't make an area a park. Do I have a solution? No I don't. If only this land could be traded for some land within the community nearby.

  15. Avatar System Failure says:

    Another Homeless Drunk

    He was born and raised in Redding. Family dead and gone. Schizophrenic.

    About two years ago he stopped taking his Meds. Someone started sneaking into his hotel/apartment and "moving things". Had to get out of there. It wasn't safe. Safer out on the streets. He started self-medicating with alcohol.

    This has been going on for over 20 years. They get him stable on Meds and he gets into a motel and maybe eventually an apartment. Things go well for a while and then he falls off the radar, stops taking the Meds and hits the streets.

    ON 12/04/10 he was booked for "ENTER NONCOMM DWELLI" and "PUBLIC INTOXICATION". Getting cold out there. Refuses to go to the Mission – too many crazy people there. No room in jail. Back on the streets.

    This is his Shasta County jail record for the last four months:

    Booked: 8/09/10

    Charges

    PUBLIC INTOXICATION

    Booked: 8/23/10

    Charges

    PUBLIC INTOXICATION

    Booked: 9/02/10

    Charges

    PUBLIC INTOXICATION

    Booked: 9/04/10

    Charges

    PUBLIC INTOXICATION

    Booked: 10/01/10

    FTA ON MISDEMEANOR C

    PUBLIC INTOXICATION

    Booked: 10/29/10

    FTA ON FELONY CHARGE

    PUBLIC INTOXICATION

    Booked: 11/08/10

    Charges

    PUBLIC INTOXICATION

    Booked: 11/19/10

    Charges

    FTA ON FELONY CHARGE

    FTA ON FELONY CHARGE

    FTA ON MISDEMEANOR C

    FTA ON MISDEMEANOR C

    FTA ON MISDEMEANOR C

    FTA ON MISDEMEANOR C

    FTA ON MISDEMEANOR C

    FTA ON MISDEMEANOR C

    FTA ON MISDEMEANOR C

    Booked: 12/04/10

    ENTER NONCOMM DWELLI

    PUBLIC INTOXICATION