Free Seasonal Pools Open This Month

By the City of Santa Barbara

The City’s two seasonal pools will be opening soon for summer.

The Oak Park Wading Pool, designed for children ages 7 and under, will open on Monday, June 12.

The Ortega Park Swimming Pool will open for families with children 13 and under on Monday, June 19. Both pools are free to use and will have lifeguards on duty. The Ortega Park Swimming Pool will also host low-cost swim lessons for children ages 6 months to 12 years throughout the summer.

Learn more here.

(Photo: City of Santa Barbara)

What do you think?


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  1. Reduced cost swim lessons at Ortega Park are a major benefit to the community. But WHAT ABOUT EASTSIDE TEENS OVER THE AGE OF 13? Limiting the ages at the Ortega Park Pool to 13 and under, pushing for fencing of all Eastside Parks (successfully or unsuccessfully) for example, Ortega Park, Eastside Neighborhood Park, Plaza de Vera Cruz, and farther east, Dwight Murphy Ball Field, suggests racism. I can think of no other city parks that are fenced off. Open recreational swim at Los Banos Pool is open to teens. What is it about the Eastside? Does the Parks & Recreation Department think that Eastside residents are dangerous? The Parks & Recreation Department SERIOUSLY needs examination – on a systemic level.

  2. I assume that they are trying to keep the gang activity to a minimum in/around the “kiddie” pools. The fencing is a good idea all the way around and has nothing to do with what someone is suggesting. For example, everything can’t always be about racism all the time….but if that’s one’s focus, then that’s what one will see each and every time.

  3. VIN- I must either be missing something, you’re trolling, or both. Are you arguing about a park with a POOL being fenced? I mean, really all pools that young kids can access should be fenced… If it’s a park thing, There are other parks and a few in Goleta, mostly to designate a park and keep the kiddos from wandering into the street. Racist? Really Bro, the west side and the east side are hardly different…

    • OG – Lots of points to unpack. Let me take a shot… My comments thus far pertain to Ortega Park, not Oak Park. The Ortega Park Revitalization Project has been in the planning stages since 2018 and the process has been a rocky road. Eastside community leaders have expressed concern about many issues, most of which have been ignored by P&R Dept staff. One of these concerns is the plan to install fake grass in place of the natural grass soccer field (YUCK), and then to fence off this portion of the park (approx 50% of the park) citing crime and misuse as the reason that the park needs to be fenced off. Other parks they’ve fenced off are the Eastside Community Park, Plaza de Vera Cruz, and Dwight Murphy Ball Field, all of which has stirred controversy in the community. Gaslighting, and smoke & mirrors, are rampant by the P&R Dept. No, 6 foot fences are not needed to “keep the kiddos from wandering in the street.” Partial (low fencing) barriers are not the issue. At Ortega Park, the current play equipment is not fenced off at all, and the new playground will be located away from the street. Btw there are no fences “protecting children” in other neighborhood parks in SB, not even at Sunflower Park or Kids World. This is an a ruse. Fencing the pool enclosure was not the issue. Banning Eastside teens from the Ortega Park Pool is the issue (teens are not banned at Los Banos where it costs $$ to swim and is not walking distance- both obstacles). The reasoning that BABYCAKES provided was: “I assume that they are trying to keep the gang activity to a minimum in/around the “kiddie” pools.”

    • OG- Confused about your comments: “Racist? Really Bro, the west side and the east side are hardly different”… Regarding racism, people of color in the Eastside neighborhood have made their feelings and perceptions very clear. Not sure that your perception of racism is relevant. The statement BABYCAKES made regarding the P&R Dept keeping Eastside teens out of the pool in order to keep gang activity to a minimum was objectively racist.

    • Idk OG, you seem to know more than you’re letting on. Regarding artificial turf, Ortega Park “stakeholders” with soccer organizations didn’t express strong opinions- This topic was discussed in documents I received via my public records requests. Design meetings indicated it was a coin toss. Area residents with knowledge/interest in soccer favor natural grass. The main issue for soccer players in general (who have experience with both, and/or have researched the subject) is the reduced risk of injury with natural grass. This article captures the risk:,to%20the%20knees%20and%20toes. Eastside leaders are currently fighting for natural grass, open green spaces being a top priority. Regarding your comment on teenagers swimming at Ortega Park with toddlers, you clearly have more skin in this game than you are letting on. What a comment. While I’m not a fan of “You are an inferior person if you like/want/need x, y, or z” types of comments, you are clearly not a fan of water activities. If you were, you would know that playing in water is fun for all ages. ALL ages. Since SB doesn’t have a designated teen pool where teens can swim for free, Ortega Park is all we’ve got. Besides, a multi-generational atmosphere creates a much nicer dynamic than one that is segregated by age group. I know from experience. One more thing: You clearly have never even been in the Ortega Park Pool. This pool is actually 3.5 ft to about 4.5 ft, the center being the deepest. Not many neighborhood toddlers are brought to this pool- because they can’t swim. Elementary school kids are well represented though. It’s true that teens enjoy events geared toward teens – I think teen nights would be popular once a week (in the early evening- chaperoned of course). The City of SB is holding Summer Nights, why not teen nights at the pool? But please don’t deny access during the warm days of summer break – Hopefully it warms up soon.

    • VIN- While I’m not a soccer player, I did play football, baseball, and basketball. I absolutely would rather play on a natural surface. Definitely fewer injuries vs a perfect grass field. We all know how the parks maintain the fields, however. SB park field vs turf, yeah turf, please.
      I actually have not been to Ortega Pool. I was assuming from other kid pools. My bad.
      I agree a supervised teen night might be fun. Still though, the ocean! I actually am a water person. I surf, dive, fish, boat etc, etc… I love the ocean and some of my fondest memories as a child and adult have to do with water!
      I’m all for a free program to teach kids to swim and have access to water and fun. I think it should be ocean-based… It will lead to a life of better understanding of where we live and more enjoyment! I got no skin in the game, my kids are grown and are ocean people, not pool peeps.

    • VIN-You clearly know far more about the issue than I do. I will say that the turf fields for soccer would be amazing for soccer players. They are very expensive and restricting access to prevent damage is common. I don’t really understand why a teenager would even want to be in a 2-3′ deep pool with a bunch of toddlers though. We do have an ocean and that’s where my kids go…

    • OG, Ok, got it, sorry for the misunderstanding. I agree regarding Parks maintenance, and I’ve seen discussion to cut maintenance costs (by getting rid of trees and other messy landscaping). But there are many reasons to preserve natural green grass over fake grass. My family is both pool/ocean- oldest son is a real outdoorsman and is tough enough to get in year round, practically every day. However, in my mind the discussion is not pool vs ocean. It’s aquatics for all, and pool space is needed for all… To learn to swim, to develop skills prerequisite to safe ocean access, to have access to therapeutic exercise, to keep in stellar shape, to participate in sports (swimming, water polo, etc), to cool off on a hot day, and to recreate. Pools provide aquatics to the many (who have access), the ocean provides aquatics to the brave, skilled, and able. Once skills are attained, it provides endless possibilities (for the brave/able/willing). Junior Lifeguards camps offer water safety and safe ocean access, however the cost has gotten out of reach for most. My sons participated in the stellar SBJGs from 2006-2017. We were lucky that camp fees were budget friendly during that timeframe.

  4. OG- Confused about your comments: Racist? Really Bro, the west side and the east side are hardly different… Regarding racism, people of color in the Eastside neighborhood have made their feelings and perceptions very clear. Not sure that your perception of racism is relevant. The statement BABYCAKES made regarding the P&R Dept keeping Eastside teens out of the pool in order to keep gang activity to a minimum was objectively racist.

    • Yes, CANYONKID, spot on! Access to water safety and aquatics to ALL is definitely my passion and my mission. Lack thereof is a hidden problem here in Paradise. 79% of children in low-income families have little to no swim ability. There is a 13% chance that a child will learn to swim if their parent(s) don’t know how to.Look at these statistics, use your excellent deductive reasoning skills, and extrapolate to get an idea of the local situation:

  5. Here is an idea for allowing teens to swim for free at Ortega Park, or for $$ at Los Banos rec/open swim: For children coming to swim but unaccompanied by parents, a permission slip needs to be on file with the Parks & Recreation Department -across the board- completed in person during open/flexible hours, weekend & evening hours offered. This permission slip will include the child’s name, parent’s name, both of which will be verified by a picture ID (school ID, etc) + contact information, which will also be verified. A master list will be kept on a clipboard at Los Banos and the Ortega Park Pool. Upon entry, names will be checked off to show that the child is present. I raised two boys and I know that kids can be obnoxious, particularly adolescents/teens. Any trouble? Contact the parent. Consequence the child. Don’t allow them to return unless the parent is present to supervise. If this fails to provide intended results, ban the child. EXCELLENT DETERRENT for bad behavior. BTW swimming pools are not a know gathering spot for criminals, so those of you who think that the Ortega Park Pool will become a hang-out for street gangs, IT’S NOT LIKELY.

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