Environmentalists win another battle over fate of Mission Bay Park’s northeast corner
RV park retreats from De Anza Point proposal after Coastal Commission raises concerns
Environmentalists have won a battle over recreational vehicle owners regarding the future of Mission Bay Park’s northeast corner, which is slated to become a combination of marshland and added park space.
The ongoing fight over how the land will be divided among those two priorities took a potential turn toward marshland last month, when opposition from the state Coastal Commission prompted a retreat by supporters of RV camping.
Environmentalists have harshly criticized a plan approved by the San Diego City Council in 2019 to allow the Campland on the Bay RV park to expand onto De Anza Point, site of a defunct mobile home park.
While the city-approved plan describes Campland’s use of De Anza Point as “interim,” environmentalists say it would give Campland a “foothold” and sway long-term decisions whether De Anza Point should be marshland or camping.
6-3 vote is victory for RV owners over environmentalists lobbying for marshland restoration
When the local chapter of the Audubon Society threatened to sue over the plan, Campland agreed to seek approval from the Coastal Commission, which had scheduled a hearing on the plan for May 12.
Coastal Commission staffers raised several concerns about the city-approved plan and recommended that the commission impose nearly a dozen conditions on Campland that go beyond any requirements imposed by the city.
Faced with those conditions, Campland decided to retreat and requested that the commission remove the item from its agenda before any public hearing could take place.
Jacob Gelfand, whose family owns Campland, said he remains committed to fulfilling the city-approved plan, which requires Campland to demolish 150 defunct mobile homes in exchange for the new RV sites on De Anza Point.
“We look forward to continuing to work closely with Coastal Commission staff to schedule a new hearing date as soon as possible and are grateful for the overwhelming support we have received from the public,” he said.
Regional water board OKs analysis of less recreation-heavy plan for park’s northeast corner
The retreat by Campland continues recent momentum for environmentalists regarding that fate of northeast Mission Bay Park.
San Diego officials want area upgraded for RV campers while studies continue on long-term solutions
Last year, city officials abruptly decided to shift gears and study a proposal to make much of the area marshland, which scientists say will help San Diego fight sea level rise and climate change.
Before that shift, San Diego had been moving forward with a recreation-heavy plan for the area that had been crafted by staffers based on four years of analysis and public input.
The new marshland study delayed any decision on the fate of the area until at least 2022.
The city-approved deal with Campland has been controversial since the council approved it 6-3 in spring 2019.
While environmentalists made their argument about giving Campland a foothold, RV supporters said the expanded reach of Campland would only be for the short term and wouldn’t block or delay any long-term redevelopment of the area.
Coastal Commission staffers said they were concerned that the plan would decrease public access and create the wrong image.
“The relatively isolated nature of De Anza Peninsula and continuation of fencing-off the portions that remain vacant in this comparatively isolated corner of Mission Bay Park creates the risk of the proposed RV resort expansion appearing to privatize this segment of park area and discouraging public access,” they said in a report.
They also complained that Campland’s proposal to boost a nearby bike path would still leave a large gap, and that the demolition of the mobile homes could pollute the bay if debris isn’t handled carefully.
Many supporters and opponents of the plan submitted comments to the commission.
“Approval of this improvement project will expedite the long-awaited cleanup of De Anza Cove, including the removal of the asbestos-filled homes, the repair of popular, waterfront bike and pedestrian paths, and help ensure greater access to affordable coastal accommodations,” Congressman Scott Peters said.
The Audubon Society disagreed.
“The proposed project will intensify private use of public lands in Mission Bay Park and pre-empt the outcome of the ongoing De Anza Revitalization planning process,” the society said.