What should Mission Bay look like? The City unveils 4 proposals

San Diego’s plan to turn the northeast corner of Mission Bay into a combination of swamps, campsites and recreation areas continued to take shape on Wednesday when city officials revealed four separate proposals they will analyze in depth this fall.

The first proposal, called De Anza Natural, is a revised version of a proposal Mayor Todd Gloria unveiled in January as his preferred plan for the area, which became available for redevelopment seven years ago during the lockdown. of a mobile home park.

Gloria’s revised plan includes 219 acres of marshland, 60 acres of recreation areas, 49 acres of low-cost camping, 26 acres of open parkland, 6 acres of swimming beaches, and 38 acres of upland dunes.

The mayor is prioritizing swamps because they will help the city combat rising sea levels by removing carbon from the air and acting as a coastal sponge during storms. Gloria’s Revised Climate Action Plan commits San Diego to add 700 total acres of marshland by 2035.

City officials say upland dunes are also important to combat climate change and sea level rise, as these uplands will slowly turn into swamps as sea levels rise and will submerge existing marshes under water.

Revisions unveiled Wednesday dedicate more acres to recreation — 60 from 45 — than the mayor proposed in January. To make this possible, the mayor reduced the amount of open parks in his proposal from 47 acres to 26 acres.

City officials say the changes were made in response to public feedback after Gloria’s plan was revealed in January. More minor changes include a bit more space for beach swimming and a bit less for camping and dunes.

The three alternative plans that were also unveiled on Wednesday all feature more marshland than Gloria’s proposal and less space for recreation, camping and swimming beaches.

These alternatives and Gloria’s revised proposal for the 400-acre area will each be analyzed in detail as part of an environmental impact report.

City officials said Wednesday they plan to complete that report early next year and let the city council choose one of four options — or a combination of elements from each — by the end of 2023.

Proponents of RV camping criticized alternative proposals Wednesday to reduce the number of acres for camping. One proposal would reduce camping space from the 50 acres currently available to 45 acres, while another envisions 40 acres and another only 27 acres.

“A reduction of what exists today would be a tough pill to swallow,” said Jacob Gelfand, whose family owns Campland on the Bay RV Park.

The proposal that reduces camping space to 27 acres would also provide no camping space directly on Mission Bay, limiting camping areas to just east of the Mission Bay Golf Course.

Gelfand said city officials should keep in mind that multiple community surveys have shown that camping is more important to local residents than other proposed uses.

“It’s abundantly clear that the community’s No. 1 priority in all of this is preserving the incredible, unique and precious experience of camping by the water,” he said.

Local environmentalists also criticized the city on Wednesday. They said the city should explore, as one of the alternatives, a bold plan called “the wildest” that calls for 315 total acres of upland marsh and dunes in the northeast corner of Mission Bay.

Gloria’s plan calls for 256 total acres of upland marsh and dunes, while alternative plans the city will analyze call for 264, 267, and 289 total acres of marsh and dunes.

“None of the plans match the acreage of the ‘wildest’ plan and that’s the gold standard,” said Andrew Meyer, director of conservation for the local chapter of the Audubon Society.

Meyer said city officials should at least study this alternative, even though some critics call it extreme, so they know how much of an impact it could have on climate change, rising levels of the sea and other environmental concerns.

“This is an opportunity for the city to be a world leader,” Meyer said. “It’s the best place and the only place where we can do wetland restoration because it’s on the coast.”

Meyer said the city’s proposals also didn’t consider areas where swamps could be combined with recreation, such as swamps where people could kayak or paddleboard.

Each of the four proposals includes enough active recreational land to keep the golf course in place. Conversion of the golf course to a marsh or other recreational uses was discussed during the planning process, but this does not appear to be under consideration any longer.

To see the proposals, go to sandiego.gov/planning/work/park-planning/de-anza.

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