Eastside Costa Mesa residents are very fortunate to have a new neighbor: a little park called Perez Park at the corner of Santa Ana Avenue and University Drive. The new "tot lot" with playground equipment is a welcome upgrade from the fenced off lot with overgrown plants that it replaces.
The park just opened, and I've already taken my 1 year old son there 4 days in a row. With the Coronavirus pandemic making indoor play dates off limits, the new park has created the Covid-friendly outdoor space that people crave right now.
But as grateful as I am for the new community gathering place, it has a big problem. The park is less than 20 feet away from two busy streets, but there are no gates to keep children from running out into the road. It's horrifying to think that in just a few seconds a toddler could run out into the road and get hit by a vehicle (University Drive is an OCTA bus route).
Parents need to be attentive to their kids. But unlike most parks where there's a grassy area separating the play area from the road, giving parents time to catch their speedy toddler before he makes it into the road, the tiny size of this park and the very short distance between the play area and road make it much more dangerous.
Child safety needs to be priority one, and installing gates is critical to make the park safe for our kids. We cannot wait for something terrible to happen, and then respond only after it's too late.
Perez Park was constructed by the County of Orange at a cost of nearly $2,000,000, and the City of Costa Mesa has assumed maintenance responsibilities. Installation of gates at each of the two entrances to the park should not cost more than a few thousand dollars.
With child safety at stake, not to mention the significant liability that both the County of Orange and and City of Costa Mesa could face if tragedy were to strike, installing entry gates at Perez Park should be a no-brainer.
UPDATE (2/26/2021): I am happy to report that this article and the attention it received made its way to the Costa Mesa City Council. I spoke with Mayor Katrina Foley and District 6 (Eastside Costa Mesa) Councilman Jeffrey Harlan and they both agree about the importance of child safety gates at Perez Park. It turns out that the County's plans for the park actually included gates, but for unknown reasons they were not constructed. The Costa Mesa City Council is now working with the County to get child safety gates installed at Perez Park!
Costa Mesa personal injury lawyer Blaise Patzkowski is an advocate for child safety and the rights of injured pedestrians in Southern California. If you or your family member was hurt in a car accident, please contact Mr. Patzkowski for a free consultation.
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