Summer & Paradise Beach, What Are Your Thoughts?
By Todd Damiano
River Park is one of the safest neighborhoods in Sacramento, and it’s a wonderful place to live and raise a family. Our streets are fairly safe and quiet. We have a fantastic elementary school, some local businesses within walking distance, Civarella Field, and we have a park and public swimming pool nearby. So what is the problem? Late spring as the temperatures rise, River Park becomes the destination for those who want to party and leave their trash behind at Paradise Beach and Glenn Hall Park. Because the beach is isolated from the surrounding community it serves as the location for groups of young adults seeking to cool off and party. They arrive at all hours of the day, or even late at night when the park is closed (illegal), to drink alcohol (illegal), start fires or BBQ’s (illegal), and when the party is over simply leave the trash behind for others to clean up (illegal), then pile into their cars parked at Glenn Hall and drive home drunk (illegal).
Cooling off at the river and having fun with friends is fine, but when it turns into trashing the river &/or park and then driving drunk through the neighborhood, I find it difficult to ignore. I’ve spoken with a number of property owners near the park and along Carlson Ave about this seasonal havoc. I’ve heard their stories of car tire tracks left on front lawns, strangers urinating on their grass, empty/broken bottles strewn along the street, broken bits of styrofoam coolers left behind, the list is endless. And this has been going on for decades. I have the impression that apathy has set in with those who live closest to the park. After years of putting up with the annual chaos they are feeling powerless to do anything about it. This issue won’t just go away any more than the river or summertime Sacramento heat will just go away.
Over the years the city has made some improvements. The bollards along Sandburg drive were put in place many years ago to control vehicle access into the park. The electronic gate at the parking lot entrance that automatically closes each night was installed only few years ago. There are likely other measures taken in the past that I’m unaware of, but the problem still persists.
Law enforcement seems to be the obvious solution to this problem. But calling law enforcement is one thing and getting someone to respond is another. I’m certainly not pointing fingers at Sac PD. I believe they do an excellent job and take their job seriously, but there simply are not enough officers on the streets. On weekends, when things are at their worst, Sac officers are likely to be involved with more serious matters. Getting an officer into one of Sacramentos safest neighborhoods to roust a group of kids drinking by the river is unlikely when they could instead be chasing down a hit and run offender or an armed robbery suspect somewhere else on Sacramento streets. And the County Rangers who patrol the American River Parkway are so limited in numbers, they too are simply understaffed.
The purpose of this article is not to rant, lecture, or lay blame. I’m hoping this article generates a dialogue between neighbors in an effort to address what I believe is a longstanding community issue that needs attention. Or perhaps River Park residents don’t consider this a serious issue. Maybe this activity should be accepted as part of the price we pay for living near the river. The first step is to gain public sentiment on this issue. If enough River Park residents consider Paradise Beach a serious community issue, then perhaps as a community something can be done to address it. Do River Park residents have concerns about what takes place at Glenn Hall Park each summer? Do they consider it a problem, and if so, are they willing to make an effort to see that something gets done about it? You’ve heard my position on this. What does the rest of River Park think about what takes place here each summer?