Audit: 5 San Diego playground inspections in the last 23 years

SAN DIEGO - A recent audit of the San Diego Park and Recreation Department's playground maintenance program showed only five playgrounds in the city have been inspected over the last 23 years.

Team 10 first reported on safety issues at several San Diego parks in 2012. Team 10 toured area parks with a national safety expert, who pointed out problems from lack of ground cover, cracked equipment and metal slides.

Former Park and Recreation director Stacy LoMedico said in September 2012 that crews do daily site inspections and they must have missed the issues.

The newly released audit found issues with consistency, training and timeliness of inspections and the repair process. The audit found the park and recreation department conducted just five site inspections between 1989 and 2012.

City Councilwoman Marti Emerald questioned Park and Recreation Department staff at a City Council meeting over the lack of inspections and response.

One of the five inspections came immediately after a Team 10 investigation in 2012.

Emerald was with Team 10 when a national safety expert pointed out big problems with a neighborhood park in San Carlos.

"It was well known among park and rec staff that it had aging and old equipment, and it was allowed to remain open until the media reported on it. Then it was cordoned off the same day and has been unavailable for neighborhood children and families ever since. That's unacceptable," said Emerald.

The audit made three recommendations:

-- the first recommendation: enhanced oversight of its playground inspection process, which means staff will inspect playgrounds twice a month and turn in reports to document their work
-- the second recommendation: clearer performance standards related to playground inspection and repair, which means the guidelines on when inspections and repairs are made have to be made clear to staff
-- the third recommendation: a comprehensive and accurate assessment of its playground equipment. The audit finds the department doesn't have accurate or updated information on what equipment they have or what shape the equipment is in.

Read the full audit: http://www.sandiego.gov/auditor/reports/fy14_pdf/audit/14-001_%20PlaygroundMaintenance.pdf

Emerald said knowing there is broken or unsafe equipment in San Diego is a huge liability.

"This is malpractice; sending kids to what could be serious injury or death knowing full well that this equipment is out there," said Emerald.

Emerald agreed to take this up at her public safety committee meeting.

Parks and Recreation Department staff members are expected to make a full report on the inspections and changes in October.

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