Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool? title=
The previous Ortega Park kiddie pool that was later filled with cement
Reads 3426

By Victoria Valente

Please attend the Ortega Park Community Meeting on April 24 from 1-3 pm, at Ortega Park. Honor the culturally significant murals and voice your concerns regarding the City’s Master Plan to destroy the murals, the mature trees, the pool, and to build a skate park in a residential area. In attendance will be skate park advocates, aquatics supporters, City Parks & Recreation, and last, but not least, murals advocates. Members of the community will be given two minutes for public comment.

Recently I have become aware that the City plans to renovate Ortega Park, yet they do not intend to fund the replacement of the pool that will be demolished. Instead, they plan to leave this section of the park barren and undeveloped.

I have only recently become aware of this because the City Parks & Recreation Department failed to perform effective community outreach throughout the process. While they did post on their Parks & Recreation page (who regularly checks the City website?), they did send mailers to property ”owners” within a 300-foot radius of Ortega Park, they did advertise on the radio (KIST & KSPE), and they did post ads, they say, in an Eastside newspaper (who reads this paper?), the notices only appeared once, or for a short period of time. So, few people knew about the project, and even fewer participated in the workshops.

Most community members attending the workshops found out about them through word-of-mouth. 

Some people, for example, several Goleta skateboarding enthusiasts, have attended every workshop that has been held. Clearly, efforts to reach out to the skateboarding community were flawless. This outreach included two “Ortega Skatepark” workshops next door to Skater’s Point with outreach posters displayed on site. No effort was made to reach out to the aquatics community at Los Baños, let alone providing their own aquatics-oriented workshops.

To fund the renovation of Ortega Park, the City has applied for an $8.5 million grant and will set aside millions to build a skate park, without setting aside a single penny to replace the pool facilities — including the wading pool that was filled with concrete in 2005.

City's Master Plan that includes the new skate park, mature trees removed, and the aquatics facilities that won't be built

With the elimination of the Ortega Park pool, there will only be one public pool in Santa Barbara. The Los Baños pool, however, is maxed out with its existing program options, and pool space is not accessible to the majority of community members.

Are any other community members outraged by the City’s plans? 

Would you be further outraged to learn that the City’s plan to replace the demolished pool facilities, involves residents taking responsibility for the fundraising?

Does that sound fair to you? And should the City even be demolishing the existing pool without plans to use grant funding to build a new one?

Would you be even more outraged to learn that professional skateboarders and marketing consultants for a Goleta skateboard company — the founders of the Goleta Skateboarding Movement — were instrumental in ensuring that the City of Santa Barbara build a multi-million skate park rather than use grant funds to replace the pool?

Doesn’t it sound like the voices of outside special interest groups have more influence over our City parks than its residents do? How do you feel about this?

Public pools offer many opportunities for the community: opportunities for youth, for recreation, and for the betterment of public health.  A skate park can be built practically anywhere. Choosing to build a skate park, rather than a pool that all community members can enjoy, short changes our residents.

Is your outrage growing? Mine is too.

Many residents don’t know that the City has already admitted that the Ortega Park Master Plan failed to plan for the historic murals and lacked the necessary public outreach. It calls for their complete demolition. They also may not know that on April 24th at 1pm, the City is hosting another murals workshop, this time at Ortega Park to ensure that the necessary outreach is conducted.

Yet today, the City refuses to reconsider the decision it made on the pool facilities — despite the lack of outreach to the aquatics community, despite the well-documented need for more (not less) public pool facilities, and despite the fact that an outside special interest group, with the full support of the Parks & Recreation Department, secured a skate park using the City’s free grant money. The City allowed this to happen, rather than ensuring that the pool facilities were prioritized. 

If you are as outraged as I am, and want the City to prioritize the pool facilities in Phase I of the Ortega Park Master Plan, please check out and sign the Change.org petition (below). Additionally, please consider sending the Mayor and City Council an email [email protected] insisting that the Ortega Park Master Plan stipulate that pool facilities be prioritized using the $8.5 million grant, rather than planning for just a pool on paper without any commitment by the City to build it now, rather than years from now, provided that the residents can raise the funds.

For more information on this issue, and to hold the City accountable to the residents of the City, rather than the residents of Goleta (or those with financial, business, or other conflicts of interest), please read and sign:

Sign the Petition

Do you have an opinion on something local? Share it with us at [email protected]. The views and opinions expressed in Op-Ed articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of edhat.


Login to add Comments


Show Comments
VinSB Apr 22, 2021 10:08 PM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

Who knows what their intentions are.. However they SAY that they are opening up the pool design to community input - at a later date. This will be AFTER the design of the rest of the park has been set in stone, not leaving much space for aquatics facilities. In addition, the $8.5 million grant funding will have been earmarked for such amenities as the skatepark. Jill Zachary has repeated several times that the grant funds won't be used for the pool, and that they don't have funding for the pool. The City is indicating that the public will be responsible for fundraising for the pool.

bosco Apr 22, 2021 02:35 PM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

The pool/splash park was always in the design, so what gives? When I moved to Santa Barbara I was shocked to see how few public pools existed. My whole childhood revolved around pools (public and private). I want my kids to have the same experience (or at lease the opportunity). The pool must be front and center for this project. I just hope the pool is not a victim of muralgate.

a-1619376104 Apr 25, 2021 11:41 AM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

I agree that the pool should be front and center for this project. This is what our community needs the most. There is plenty of space around the murals, south of the soccer field and where the small pool is now. Heck, there is space for four pools!

a-1619376390 Apr 25, 2021 11:46 AM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

The City of SB is "in bed" with the skating community, that is, the skateboard corporation in Goleta, and the skateboard industry, via their professional skaters and marketing consultants. Evidence abounds. Therefore, the "Ortega Skatepark" was prioritized and the aquatics center became "not part of the $8.5 million project."

Lorax Apr 22, 2021 04:21 PM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

This is outrageous and unfortunately typical City Politics. A small influential group gets going, of course in Covid with no public meetings excpept on zoom that excludes many.
Follow the $$ Grant was for skatebord park! No way, they have talked about an aquatics center on the East side for years, at one time they looked at the Armory. People not even in the City of SB all the Goleta skatebord advoctes hijacking the park! We don't want another skate board park there is one on Cabrillo. The Murals are important to the community as is a place for families to recreate with Los Banos so inpacted. Shame on the Council for allowing this underhandedness. Is this the future, who ever brings a grant to the table rules the project?

Minibeast Apr 22, 2021 05:20 PM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

Okay. I emailed the Mayor and City Council. Thank you, Victoria, for bringing this to our attention. If the attendance at the Oak Park kiddie pool is any indication, a pool at Ortega Park would be most welcome.

RHS Apr 22, 2021 06:43 PM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

The indignation of this commentary is just. It is great that the chicanery (deceit) of the city planners has been exposed. Time and again we find that the city staff make decisions based on questionable input from real estate developers or private companies (such as the electric bicycle nonsense). The city council and mayor are happy to let this go on behind their backs and to duck responsibility for leading. We need to change the city manager and elect members of the council that actually listen and participate in these things. Being an elected official should not be a photo op only.

a-1619195873 Apr 23, 2021 09:37 AM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

This move in SB Park plans to remove mature trees (also mentioned in East Side Neighborhood Park plans) is not wise, considering that solar intensity and the temperatures in [California] are only going to become more dangerous and higher in years to come (see Australia and sun exposure). Any plans should not touch existing trees.

VinSB Apr 24, 2021 08:35 PM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

The existing trees, most of them, are beautiful mature trees and should be saved at all costs! The right tree in the right spot = All of them, almost. Pine trees in the pool area & play area don't fit the bill though.

a-1619196938 Apr 23, 2021 09:55 AM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

Wow, thank you for such a thoughtful and informative piece. It is crazy how lobbying happens at such an extreme level even within little SB. I wish I understood why the murals are such a big deal to remove/replace. Must every piece of past art be so sacred as to prevent development to serve future generations? There are companies that do high quality art scans to preserve their history, the murals could be printed in high quality on canvas and hung in the Eastside Library or in nearby schools. But, it is not my heritage represented and clearly I do not understand the significance or whether that is an appropriate suggestion. I hope everyone can come to agreements on all issues, the neighborhood deserves some quality upgrades that represent what that community wants and needs - not what greater SB thinks it needs.

VinSB Apr 24, 2021 08:41 PM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

The City could have worked the design around existing items of value, for example the murals, the trees, and the soccer field. Even the playground is in good condition - like new. Somehow they thought bulldozing everything and starting over was the best option. Duh.

Always_Running Apr 23, 2021 12:11 PM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

From what I’ve heard from in insider, the reason the pool won’t be rebuild is cost. The city would rather redirect fund to other “community projects” rather then pool chemicals, lifeguards salaries, insurance, overhead, etc. Overall the city wants 100k+ off their budget. Good ol’ Cathy. Same reason most trees will be remove. Cost of having old trees is getting expensive and the city is frustrated with residents parking under weak trees and the cost of damaged caused.

a-1619368950 Apr 25, 2021 09:42 AM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

Public pools are part of a community's infrastructure. The 2003 Aquatics Complex Feasibility Study concluded that there is a severe shortage of pool space in Santa Barbara. $ has been earmarked in the annual Capital Improvement Program every reporting period, but this has been ignored every year. In 2008 the Infrastructure Task Force deemed a Major Aquatics Complex (at Los Banos or Elings, for example) a HIGH PRIORITY PROJECT. The City of SB has ignored this for too long, in favor of projects that are more politically favorable.

Transparent Apr 23, 2021 07:53 PM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

The outrage is a bit over-placed in this instance. The pool is in the park's master plan.
Grant funds need to be spent on specific things... and these aren't for the pool. I'm really happy this park is getting an outrage. But yes, we should keep pushing on council to ensure we get a great pool replacement and they make good on the master plan promises.

VinSB Apr 24, 2021 08:45 PM
Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?

According to the grant application and phased planning, it's more than likely that the pool will never be built. Parks & Rec could have prioritized the pool. Instead, we'll be getting a noisy skate park that brings more riff raff and crime to the area.

Please Login or Register to comment on this.