Sinking City Savior Gets Spot; The John Parkin Pocket Park

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John Parkin Green Space on E 1st St. and Loma Ave. in Bluff Park, Long Beach.

Author: Joe Brizzolara / August 25th, 2018

A pocket park on 1st and Loma was recently named the “John Parkin Green Space”, after an esteemed petroleum engineer for the city and father of City Attorney Charles Parkin. Parkin died in 2015.

The green space, located in a median in the intersection, is pretty small. Previously, it held a sign labeling the neighborhood, Bluff Historic Park, and an assortment of vegetation.

The renaming was supported by the Bluff Park Neighborhood Association who has been “a driving force for it since the inception of the idea about a year-and-a-half ago,” says Vice President for Communications Michelle Murray.

They brought the idea to Bluff Park Councilmember Suzie Price who originally requested this back in April. It was referred to the Parks and Recreation Commission who sent it to Housing and Neighborhood Committee which approved it. Councilmember Dee Andrews chairs that committee and sponsored the proposal before the council.

Parkin is best known for devising a plan that dramatically affected the development of Long Beach. In the late 50s, Long Beach was literally going under. Pieces of land were sinking due to the huge amount of oil pumping that was going on, causing subsidence. Parkin, along with others, came up with the idea of pumping salt water in the land thereby reversing the effects.

We can also thank Parkin for the offshore oil drilling that still marks Long Beach’s coast. Fear of subsidence motivated Long Beach residents to reject a proposal for offshore drilling in 1958. In ‘62, after the subsidence had stopped, voters approved the initiative. It grants the city rights to control the rate of oil production and repressuring to counteract subsidence. The derricks are disguised as islands, with fake palms and waterfalls. By 2011, the islands had produced a billion gallons of oil.

Along with his accomplished career in petroleum (also working for the Signal Hill Oil Company and the Del Amo Energy Company), Parkin served as a member of the Bluff Park Neighborhood Association and lived there 33 years. He had a special fondness for this pocket park and actually wrote about it the BPNA’s Newsletter in September 2010:

“The irregular shaped intersection was at one time a part of the old PE [Pacific Electric]
right-of-way, long since abandoned. At the intersection there is a triangular shaped patch of pavement, approximately 30 feet on each of its sides, in the center of the intersection. It is this area that is scheduled for landscaping. Because of cost considerations there will be no irrigation system installed, which makes the project somewhat unique. After the city has completed the project, the neighborhood will have to step forward and nourish the planting until it is well established.”

The green space is currently tended to solely by residents of the neighborhood, including Parkin himself when he was still alive.

City attorney Charles Parkin delivered heartfelt thanks to the council, mayor, and BPNA for honoring his father.

“This space is actually right out front of where my grandma used to live, he was always tinkering with [the space] so this is kinda fitting,” said the younger Parkin.

“He was seen as an icon in the neighborhood who was admired by everyone,” said Price in her recommendation to the council.

A dedication took place on Saturday, August 18th.


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