Mayor’s Legacy Overstated

I enjoyed the Angry Poodle’s story in the August 4 issue about John (Jack) Rickard, late former mayor of S.B. and Superior Court Judge. For a number of years I was acquainted with the judge via historical organizations. His term as mayor had ended by the time I began working for the City Planning Department in 1961. He was the first president of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, in 1963.

I found a few discrepancies with a portion of your list of Jack Rickard’s accomplishments. In the fourth paragraph, where city parks were discussed, you used the phrase “Under Rickard’s tenure, City Hall secured the real estate that would become . . .”

Jack would have been a young child when the Chase Palm Park land was secured, because the main park portions were acquired in 1903, 1904, 1925, 1927 and 1931. Parma Park was acquired in 1973, but Jack Rickard may have influenced the gift. Ortega Park was acquired in 1902 for a “public dumping ground.” The area is known to have been the site of discarded 1925 earthquake debris used as fill. In 1930 the block was dedicated as a city park, named Ortega Plaza, and later in the decade improvements were installed. A citizen made a large donation in 1952 for a playground. That would have been while Jack was city attorney. Orpet Park (called Hillside Park until 1963) was acquired by the City in 1919 to provide open space for the newly developing Riviera section. It was planted and developed in the 1920s and 1930s. The efforts to save the land that is now Shoreline Park are a good memory of my early years with the city because at that time park planning was done in the Planning Department. The bond issue was approved by the voters in 1964 and the property was purchased in 1966. Jack Rickard may have been a member of the citizens’ committee that campaigned for the bond issue. I’d have to do research to confirm that.

The publicly owned lands that later became the Municipal Golf Course and MacKenzie Park were acquired by the city in 1956. That was during Jack Rickard’s term as mayor.

Mary Louise Days is a retired planner and historian for the City of Santa Barbara

Editor's Note: We stand corrected, assuming you're right. The Poodle's account was based on old News-Press clips on file at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.

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