De Anza Cove plans pit recreation against restoration

Meeting Tuesday will help shape park's future
Posted at 7:00 AM, Dec 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-05 10:00:44-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Environmentalist groups say plans to revitalize De Anza Cove prioritize commerce over nature, and they want the city to rethink the future of the popular park on Mission Bay.

"These plans are really bad for wildlife and ignore sea level rise," said Rebecca Schwartz Lesberg, from the San Diego Audubon Society.

"What the city tried to do is take much too many uses and smash them into too small of an area, rather than make hard choices about what to prioritize," she said.

Plansshow a pair of options for the park. Both add a walking and biking trails, restaurants, picnic areas, volleyball courts, camping, open grass areas and increased habitat/wetlands area. The main difference between the plans is where it's all located. One has the new amenities on the north side of the cove, the other on the south.

Both leave Mission Bay Golf Course alone, and expand the baseball/softball field and tennis courts north of the cove.

"It's a resource that a lot of people want to get out there and experience," said Alyssa Muto with the City Planning Department.

That wasn't always possible for the last few decades, as the southern end of the park was covered with dozens of mobile homes. The city bought the homes a few years ago and evicted the owners. They plan to demolish the homes to make way for the new parks.

City officials admit the plans are ambitious.

"We like to say we're trying to fit 50 gallons into a 5 gallon bucket," said Muto.

But environmental groups say that's the biggest part of the problem with the plans.

"The city has tried to take much to many uses and smash them into too small of an area, rather than make hard choices on what to prioritize," said Lesberg.

Audubon San Diego and ReWild Mission bay revealed their own visionfor the park, with an emphasis on restoring wetlands.

"If you care about the environment, know that climate change is real and want California to protect public lands, come out and make your voice heard," said Lesberg.

The city says the new wetlands they plan to build in De Anza Cove are part of a bigger, 10 year project to restore the Bay, with a focus on water quality and animal habitat.

They'll show all of that at a meeting Tuesday night with the Mission Bay Council. It's at 6 p.m. at Mission Bay High School and is open to the public.

Once the city settles on a final plan, they'll have to do an Environmental Impact Review. It could still take 18 months before a final plan is presented to the City Council for approval.