Next year, the City of San Diego is expected to select which alternative plans for the De Anza Cove Revitalization Project will be included with its own for an Environmental Impact Report. The various stakeholders made their cases before the community at the Pacific Beach Town Council meeting, Nov. 14, at Crown Point Junior Music Academy.
Representatives from the San Diego Audubon Society, Beautiful PB, Mission Bay Gateway and Campland by the Bay gave brief speeches to a packed house of about 120 people before the meeting broke out into an exposition with each group exhibiting their specific plans at tables and answering questions.
Although the Audubon Society had recently released a preliminary feasibility study from its Rewild Mission Bay project, no new plans were unveiled and advocates used the occasion to reiterate their visions for the future of the northeast corner of Mission Bay and to drum up support.
First, was Campland by the Bay, which has been renting more than 800 low-cost campsites and RV spaces for 50 years, generating $2.8 million in revenues for the City last year alone, and employing 150 people.
With the most supporters in the audience, Campland's vice president of operations Jacob Gelfand made the most emotional appeal, while arguing that his company's plan makes use of the substantial infrastructure already in place from the former mobile home park rather than remove it, as the City plan intends.
"The reason you see so many campers getting involved in this process is because the experience of being able to stay right on Mission Bay in a tent or RV with a direct view of the bird sanctuary — this is an experience you can't find anywhere else," Gelfand said. "It's precious to so many families. It's the way so many young people have been introduced to the importance of protecting our natural resources and protecting our local environment."
Created by Scott Chipman and other private individuals with appropriate levels of professional expertise, the Mission Bay Gateway Plan not only uses, but also improves, existing infrastructure and sites, while creating 100 acres of marsh — 20 more than called for in the Mission Bay Master Plan.
Chipman touted the new facilities — a skateboard park, an amphitheater and an aquatic center featuring an Olympic-sized pool — in his plan, which are presently unavailable in Pacific Beach.
"Our philosophy is, we should not go through this huge land-use process — millions of dollars, several years — and then end up with less than we have right now," he said. "We should have the facilities that we currently have. We should lose nothing and we should gain many things."
Having conducted four public workshops to date to gather community input, Rewild Mission Bay has three alternative plans titled "Wild," "Wilder" (similar to the City's plan) and "Wildest," — the latter eliminating most artificial structures and returning almost all of the area to its former natural state.
Speaking on behalf of the San Diego Audubon Society, Andrew Myer noted that his group doesn't take a position on any of its three alternatives, but rather has conducted analysis to determine the viability of each.
"They're just alternatives that have been modeled and analyzed to see if they'll actually work in those locations," Myer said. "So it's a different kind of project than some of these other ones here, in that there's some technical analysis that says, 'yes, this will work and this is why it'll work. This won't work and this is why it won't work.' That kind of information."
Neither offering nor endorsing any specific plan, Kristen Victor of the EcoDistrict within Beautiful PB pointed out that foundation documents for the City's planning department are out of date and need major revisions if any plan is to be successful.
For example, she noted that the Mission Bay Master Plan driving the De Anza Cove Revitalization Project was written in 1991 and contains no mention of the climate change and accompanying sea level rise that will drastically alter the bay's current makeup.
"This is what the City is planning right now," Victor said. "They're planning our bay — they're doing active planning, overlay planning — and it's with an economic analysis from 1954 and a Master Plan from 1991. I think everybody in the room can agree that we need to reevaluate that."
The breakout session after the presentations lasted a scant 30 minutes, certainly not enough time for many in the room (including this reporter) to get greater details on all the alternatives.
Nonetheless, the meeting was just as instructive to the panel of planners and presenters as it was to attendees, according to Chipman.
"It's absolutely important for community members to get together and start talking, compare notes, compare opinions, ask each other questions: 'What do you think? How do you like that? What if we did this?' " Chipman said. "We've been informed by hearing forums like this. The Mission Bay Gateway Plan has evolved slightly and been dramatically improved by such forums."
The meeting also marked the last presided over by Greg Daunoras, who completes his two-year term as president of the PBTC at the beginning of the new year.
Under his term, the general monthly meetings were expanded from quick affairs lasting 45 minutes with reports from government agencies, to events featuring leading figures from the City and County addressing topical, and even controversial, issues garnering major media attention and often forced to end after one-and-a-half hours.
While accepting his role in the transformation, Daunoras credits the membership as the real drivers for the change.
"My biggest feeling of accomplishment is that we've become very popular and very respected, to the degree that we're having a little trouble managing this," he said. "We've gone from small meetings to overflowing crowds, and I don't see anyone complaining about anything. We run out of cookies, no one complains."
• Want to know more? See the City's De Anza Cove Amendment to the Mission Bay Park Master Plan at bit.ly/2I7mHNg
— The PB Town Council next meets 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019 at Crown Point Jr. Music Academy, 4033 Ingraham St. pbtowncouncil.org
De Anza Cove Park
• 3000 North Mission Bay Drive in North Mission Bay
• Volleyball area, tot lot, benches, picnic tables, path for jogging or bike riding
• Launch ramp for boats and jet skis, comfort station with showers. Swimming, boating and water skiing allowed. Lifeguard in summer months. Sandlot for over-the-line games nearby.
• Food allowed, but no glass containers. Alcohol is not permitted.
• Capacity: 750 people
• Hours 4 a.m. to 2 a.m.
• Permit center: (619) 235-1169
Source: City of San Diego