The Encinitas Parks & Recreation Department Creates Unlimited Outdoor Opportunities
Encinitas is known as a highly active, involved community and on any given day, it’s not hard to find something to get out and do. There has been an explosion in the amount of recreational opportunities in Encinitas over the past 10 years, both from the increased offerings from the Parks and Recreation Department, and from the amazing amount of events and activities offered by the local community and business groups. Whether you are at the beach, on the trails or at a park in Encinitas, it is safe to say you will have a great day experiencing the outdoors. There is a lot that goes into making the outdoors that cover over 19 square miles in the five unique communities of Encinitas so inviting. The Parks and Rec team share the history, the passion and the exciting things happening out and about at the beach, around the parks and on the trails. It’s always the perfect time of year in Encinitas to experience the outdoors. See you outside.
What is the history behind Encinitas Parks & Rec?
The City of Encinitas has only been incorporated since 1986, but the history of the area goes back much deeper, much like the rest of Southern California. The Parks and Recreation Department staffed with 21 full-time employees was previously called the Community Services Department. The Department serves the five unique communities that take pride in their own distinct personalities. “Old Encinitas” occupies the Highway 101 Corridor that parallels the beautiful beaches and ocean. “New Encinitas” centers on El Camino Real. “Cardiff-by-the-Sea” is made up of quaint homes dotting the hillsides overlooking the sea. “Leucadia” is famous for its giant eucalyptus trees that line the main thoroughfare on the Coast Highway. “Olivenhain” (which means “olive grove” in German) boasts plenty of open horse country, pastures and a rural way of life.
The Department inherited a number of existing parks and beach facilities from the County of San Diego and later entered into a lease agreement with the State for the operation of Moonlight Beach. In the years that followed, with the support of former mayors and city councils, the Department increased its programming and developed additional parks, beach amenities, viewpoints and developed trails under a new trails master plan.
In the past, the Department did not have its own facilities to hold programs and relied on use agreements and partnerships with a number of Encinitas schools, churches, libraries and even operated some of its recreation programs out of City Hall. Today, the Department has the Encinitas Community and Senior Center (ECC) which was built in 2001. The ECC allowed the department to quickly double in size and expand the number of classes, camps and other recreational opportunities and services to the community. Around the time of the opening of the ECC, the Department changed its name to Parks and Recreation and soon created the logo you see us use today.
Over the years, the Department has expanded its programs from just a handful to now almost 1,000 different activities offered each year, as well as a calendar of major special events, including the popular Holiday Parade, Spring Egg Hunt, Summer Concerts by the Sea, the Encinitas 5K Run and more. Now, as we get into summer programs, enjoying our newly remodeled Moonlight Beach, and are nearing halfway through construction of our future Encinitas Community Park, we couldn’t be more excited about the future of Encinitas Parks and Rec.
What are the projected long term projects that are in the works to implement to community parks, trails and beaches over the next few years?
Encinitas Community Park (ECP) is currently under construction and we anticipate finishing the park in 2014. Weekly updates are posted on the City’s website.
ECP is a 44-acre park located on the west side of I-5 between Santa Fe Drive and Birmingham Drive. Park amenities include an urban plaza skate plaza, children’s playground and designated picnic areas, a dog park, three multi-use fields (3 designated multi-purpose field – two baseball and one softball), and a landscape buffer around the perimeter of the park and a six foot masonry wall which surrounds the majority of the park. Five paved parking lots (418 spaces – 23 accessible) will be distributed throughout the park to allow ample parking for every element. A beautiful dry creek which meanders with boulders, dense landscaping, a decomposed granite pathway and alcoves, along with paved walking paths and benches areas are located throughout the park will complete this community park design. The loop around the park is approximately 2/3 of a mile.
From May through July 1 the Parks and Recreation Department sponsored an Encinitas Community Park paver program which provided the community the opportunity to leave a lasting impression and become a permanent part of Encinitas history by securing a personalized paver for the new park. Look for these personalized pavers at the grand opening in 2014!
The Community and Senior Center is a very popular place for old and young alike. What are some of the most popular programs at the Center?
We offer a wide array of sports, classes and activities for people of all ages, interests and abilities. We always enjoy seeing what people are in to and lately that’s been high-energy classes like Zumba and many of our adult and senior fitness classes. We have always had very popular tiny-tot activities that incorporate music, play and dance. Our youth basketball league and our senior dances always have great participation. In the summer months, we offer dozens of different youth camps at the Community Center – everything from Lego Camp to indoor soccer.
How is everything funded? Are you in need of additional funds to continue with short and long term goals? Do you have a community sponsor or sponsors who assist in providing funding?
The City of Encinitas City Council is very supportive of Parks and Recreation in our community. The Department is funded by the City’s General Fund. In addition to General Funds, many of our Department’s programs are supported by program fees. Occasionally we do fundraising to support projects which are not built into our operating budget or project plan. We are just completing our park paver sale program, which will fund additional amenities, including “Pathways for Play” equipment and a dog park gazebo for the upcoming Encinitas community. We host our annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Aug. 26 to raise funds to support Senior Center events and a pancake breakfast in February to raise money for youth sports scholarships. We regularly partner with our business community to provide resources for programs and events and offer sponsorship opportunities as well.
Do you have a core group of volunteers to assist with Parks and Rec activities? Are you in need of volunteers?
Volunteers are a big help at our major special events, and always contribute to our success. Volunteering is a great way give back to the community and to connect with others. If anyone is interesting in volunteering to help out at an upcoming event, we encourage them to contact our office at 760-633-2740 or by email at email@example.com.
What specific parks do you manage in the City?
I currently manage all of the parks in Encinitas. Our other Parks Supervisor, Bob Keeley supervises all of our beaches and trails. The Parks, Beaches and Trails Division of the Parks and Recreation Department rotates areas of supervision between our two Parks Supervisors every few years to keep things fresh and so that we continually learn and grow as park professionals.
Tell us about amenities at the parks that are offered to the community.
Encinitas has a wide variety of parks, from passive use spaces like upper Encinitas Viewpoint Park, a great place to relax with nothing more than a bench, trees and a great view, to sports parks like Ecke or Cardiff Sports Park, which are constantly busy with activity. In between those lie a number of neighborhood parks with smaller features, and larger parks like Glen Park and Oakcrest Park, which feature more amenities like large playgrounds, courts and restrooms.
Are there any parks that are in progress to revamp or build in the community?
Our primary focus right now is the construction of Encinitas Community Park and planning for its operation and maintenance.
What sets your parks apart from other community parks?
Encinitas parks generally fit their part of the community very well. Their design and the way we maintain them serve to fit their surroundings and that particular community’s character. The plants used in a park in Olivenhain might look a lot different than a viewpoint park on the coast. Also, Encinitas, named “Tree City USA,” prides itself on the quality of its parks and has a number of awards to show for it.
Do you have any upcoming events at the parks you would like to share?
The next large City event in our parks will be next year’s Egg Hunt Festival. The summer is our busiest time of year, when pretty much every one of our parks stay busy every day.
Moonlight Beach Fest
The City of Encinitas Parks and Recreation Department will be presenting the Moonlight Beach Fest which includes the 22nd Annual City of Encinitas 5K and the Clean Water 1K on Saturday, Oct. 12. The City of Encinitas 5K and Clean Water 1K offers a flat, fast, USA Track and Field certified course and an custom t-shirt for participants. After the race, hang out and experience the Encinitas Health and Fitness Expo that will feature healthy and active vendors from Encinitas and San Diego County, along with activities for kids and live music. Experience all that Encinitas is known for…good health, great beaches and downtown, fun events and an incredible community.
What trails are managed by the City?
All the recreational trails are managed by the Parks Division of the Parks and Recreation Department. Many of the trails are developed within or nearby communities. To view the recreational tails maps visit the Parks, Beaches and Trails pages at www.EncinitasParksandRec.com.
Are there any unique aspects of the trails in the community?
The Trails within Encinitas offer users opportunities to “just get away from it all.” The most unique aspect is the diverse settings. The trails within the Olivenhain community provide the experience of being in a rural country setting but within a few miles of Downtown Encinitas. These trails provide the most diverse use and are open to equestrians, hikers and cyclists. Many of these trails loop and connect to various developments within Olivenhain and several of the trails have connections to neighboring communities of Carlsbad and future connections to San Marcos and the county.
Are there plans to extend trails in the near future?
Yes. We update potential trail segments to develop as funds become available. In fact, we just completed a trail extension to connect two existing trail segments near Lone Jack Road. The newest trail development will be part of the Rancho Summit development in Olivenhain. No completion date has been set.
How do you ensure safety on the trails?
The most important thing is to keep the trails in a safe condition and address maintenance concerns and repairs quickly. Our trails contractor performs routine inspections during maintenance, coupled along with our park supervisor doing spot inspections throughout the month.
What is the beach span that the department oversees?
The Parks and Recreation Department maintains six miles of beach and six beach accesses, in addition to six viewpoints from Swami’s north to Grandview Beach. Everything south of Swami’s is operated by California State Parks.
How do you ensure safety measures are in place at all local beaches that you manage?
Our Parks and Beaches supervisors perform monthly site inspections of landscapes, general beach maintenance, as well as safety issues and concerns. These items are addressed in a monthly report and scheduled accordingly. All marine safety is handled by the Encinitas lifeguards.
What are the amenities at the local beaches you are most proud of?
I am most proud of our recent improvement to Moonlight State Beach.
What is the most popular event that occurs at the beaches?
Our most popular City event held at the beach would be our City of Encinitas Summer Sunday Concerts by the Sea, which are held on alternating Sundays in July and August at Moonlight Beach. The concerts feature different types of music from local bands from Encinitas and throughout San Diego County. The concerts are free to the public and run from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. This year’s concert lineup is as follows:
- July 7 – BetaMaxx
- July 21 – The Tilt
- Aug. 4 – Stranger
- Aug. 18 – Charlie Imes and the Hodad Surf
Tell us about the reopening of Moonlight Beach and what beach goers have to look forward to.
Moonlight Beach has always been the gem of Encinitas and the recent improvements polished it with a new shine! The first impression is that there is more sand and usable space on the beach than before. The new concession/restroom building is set back near the slope below the parking lot and has a contemporary/retro 60s look about it with the winged roofs, like in the movie Cars. The one improvement I feel is the coolest is the water bottle filler at the drinking fountain. What better way to reduce plastic bottles and encourage sport bottle usage?
Parks and Recreation Department Office at City Hall
Address: 505 S. Vulcan Avenue, Encinitas, CA 92024
City of Encinitas Community and Senior Center
Address: 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024
Staff size: 22 full-time employees, 2 part-time employees, over 49 contract employees
Main Phone: 760-633-2760
Community Center Phone: 760-943-2260
Mission: To make life better in Encinitas through parks,
beaches, trails and recreation.
The Department oversees:
19 square miles totaling over 466 acres
17 developed parks
3 undeveloped parks
3 open space sites
7 view points
45 acres of beaches & access points
40 miles of trails
The Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for providing a wide range of services that supports health and wellness, tourism and economic development. Services include Community and Senior Center operations, year-round citywide recreation programming, citywide special events, park, beach and recreational trail development and maintenance, streetscape design and maintenance, current and long range planning, animal control services, oversight of the Moonlight Beach concessions and administration of the Encinitas Ranch Golf Authority.
Parks, Beaches and Recreational Trails:
The Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for the landscape maintenance and repair of all park, beach and trail facilities including 10 miles of streetscapes, over 86 acres of open space, over 143 acres of developed/undeveloped parks, over 47 acres of beaches and over 40 miles of trails.
The Recreation Services Division is responsible for planning and administering recreation services for youth, teens, adults and senior citizens.
The Administration division handles leases, contracts, operating agreements, grants, budgeting, special projects, special event and special ceremony permits, and program registration.
Animal & PET Services
The Parks & Rec Department also handles dog licensing, emergency medical care for injured dogs and cats that are found without owners, adoption service, owner notification of lost licensed dogs, public education and information programs, rabies prevention, enforcement of local and state animal control and anti-cruelty laws, control of vicious dogs, spay/neuter referral and information, and kennel licensing and inspection.