Civita Park makes a splash

Posted: May 12th, 2017 | Features, News, Top Stories | No Comments

By Jeff Clemetson | Editor

Community park celebrates grand opening of phase one

Speeches, live music, a lottery for community garden plots and a ribbon-cutting ceremony highlighted the grand opening of Civita Park in Mission Valley on April 29, which kept to a Civita tradition of holding events on Arbor Day weekend.

Chidren play in the water fountain feature at the Civita Park grand opening on April 29. (Photo by Jeff Clemetson)

For the last seven years, the Civita planned community has held an Arbor Day event to mark progress in its construction. Last year, the first tree was planted in the 14.3-acre Civita Park construction site. This year, Civita celebrated the completion of the 10-acre phase one of the park, which features a water fountain, seasonal waterfall feature, amphitheater and community garden.

“Our parks, our open spaces, our natural environment — that’s what defines us in San Diego and makes us special and to be here today with all of you to help dedicate this beautiful new park is a great day, not just for us here at Civita, but for the entire city,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “Parks are where we make memories. That’s why parks are worth fighting for and that’s why it’s important to have them done right.”

Marco Sessa, senior vice president of Sudberry Properties, the master developer of Civita, highlighted Civita’s growing community by acknowledging a group of residents who were wearing bright orange shirts that said “Save Civita” — a nod to the movement to block a proposed street connector through the development into Serra Mesa along Franklin Ridge Road.

A group of Civita residents wore orange shirts that read “Save Civita” to bring attention to a proposed freeway connector for Franklin Ridge road, which they oppose.

“For me, when I see that, it’s the fact that we’re creating community and folks are getting together over issues they care about and meeting each other,” Sessa said. “It’s one thing to get the concrete and the rocks and things that we built, but to get that social engagement is what really makes this community a community.”

Nicole Howard, one of the Civita residents wearing an orange “Save Civita” shirt, described the new park as “fantastic.”

“It really underscores the ideal of the county’s Live Well San Diego movement with its walkability, recreation facilities, gardening, social connectedness, so we love it and hope it remains a walkable community as it is presented today,” she said.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony: (l to r) Sudberry Properties senior vice president Marco Sessa, San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar, San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, San Diego Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders, park designer Glen Schmidt, San Diego Park and Recreation Department Director Herman Parker, City View Church Pastor Troy Singleterry, senior project manager for Sudberry Properties Mark Radelow, Pat Grant (Photos by Jeff Clemetson)

Howard moved to Civita two and a half years ago, when the park was just an empty lot. Now the public park that she lives next to has many features to offer, including:

  • An outdoor amphitheater with a stage shaded by a dramatic roof structure.
  • A lighted, recirculating, interactive water feature with 48 jets for aquatic play.
  • A large gathering space, dubbed Celebration Plaza, designed and engineered for a farmers market, car shows and large special events.
  • Picnic tables and outdoor living rooms that will be shaded with wisteria-covered trellises and a game area.
  • A dog park with separate enclosures for large and small dogs and exercise stations. The dog park is located at the north end of the park, accessible from Via Alta.
  • Multi-purpose fields for open play, two half basketball courts, five exercise stations, and extensive trails and walkways.
  • A tribute to the five branches of the military and San Diego’s military history.
  • A site-specific sculpture project by Encinitas sculptors T.J. Dixon and James Nelson that includes numerous rabbits and other animals lounging around the park.
  • Civita Falls, a waterfall that will be fed by runoff from Civita and parts of Serra Mesa during rainstorms. Civita Falls was designed by the late Hugh Hughes of Outside the Lines.
  • A community garden with 38 plots, including some raised, ADA-compliant – plots. The entrance to the garden features a mosaic by La Jolla artist Jane Wheeler and a restored 1956 red Porsche tractor.

A 1956 Porche tractor is on display at the entrance to the community garden.

“I love the animal sculptures and the tile mosaic wall,” Howard said. “One of our tiles is included in the wall so we’re super happy that we have a permanent connection to the park.”

Right now, Civita Park has developed only 10 acres. The remaining 4.3 acres will be built in phase two, which Sudberry representatives say should open sometime next year and will include two playgrounds, more fields, a bocce court, a “Mining Relic Terrace” with historic mining equipment and a Caterpillar D8 bulldozer, and three more gardens.

“Just like San Diego is a city of mesas and canyons, Civita Park is a canyon and open space that flows through the center of this community,” Civita Park designer Glen Schmidt said. “We hope that when you come here, you will enjoy the first phase — wait until you see what have in store for you in the second phase — and we hope that you will discover things every time you come.”

The Civita Park entrance sign

Besides the additions to the park, there are more housing developments planned for the Civita complex, as well.

“We have a whole bunch more stuff to come,” Sessa said. “We continue to work with San Diego Unified to get a school built. You guys are all sitting on beautiful green grass that we expect to maintain green forever because we will be building a reclaimed water treatment plant building that hopefully we’re going to start this summer.”

Civita Park is located on Civita Boulevard at Russell Parkway, just north of Friars Road. For information on events at the park, such as concerts, farmers markets, car shows, movies in the park and more, visit

—Reach Jeff Clemetson at

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