The Mission Hills Town Council has a vision. For at least the past five years, community leaders have worked to turn a small plot of land overlooking a canyon into a so-called ‘pocket park’.
“We want to create a low key park,” said Mark Fehlman, President of the council. “We want to be able to watch the canyon with the birds, to have benches here, where neighbors can act like neighbors.”
But the project has turned into a source of frustration. The council president claims the park is getting swallowed up by city bureaucracy. Specifically, planners say the city has taken too much of its money for permit and other fees.
“There’s a lot of thing that we would like to do that we can’t afford to do because we don’t have the money in the budget for it,” said Fehlman.
The park is nestled near some condos at the corner of Lewis and Falcon Street. In fact, the condo developers paid 450-thousand dollars to be used specifically for the park. But according to the Mission Hills Town Council, 350-thousand dollars of that money has been taken by the city for consulting, architect and permit fees, leaving only 100-thousand dollars for the project.
A spokesman for the mayor’s office was attempting to contact a planning department representative to get specific details on how the money was spent. But she said the costs are legitimate, mostly going toward vital engineering services.
But Councilman Kevin Faulconer released this statement:
"These bureaucratic charges are just too high. I have asked for a full accounting of how this money was spent. I want the Lewis Street Pocket Park built - now."
The town council president said he doesn't want any backlash from the complaints, but says there needs to be changes in the way the city does business with local neighborhoods.
“All we’re saying is the process needs to be looked at to streamline approval and permit costs for projects such as this in the community,” said Fehlman.
After years of grappling with the city, construction on the new park should start in September and be ready to use by the end of the year.