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There is a doozy of a donnybrook over usage of the southwest corner of Fiesta Island. It’s a real bitch. Or a real beach. Well, actually, those two words capsulize the battle: dog owners who want to exercise their pets leash-free are in a rasslin’ match with paddlers who want to launch their boats from a small portion of the beach.

In 1972, the City reached a contentious consensus to ban people with pooches from beaches. There was a compromise: the canines and their owners could use Dog Beach in Ocean Beach and Fiesta Island. Later, the dog owners lost a chunk of their leash-free land on Fiesta Island. Now, they are happy with 165 unfenced leash-free acres and roughly 95 fenced acres. But the City wants to take about 10 percent of the fenced area for a public beach, launch ramp, parking lot, and road to accommodate San Diego users of nonmotorized boats such as outriggers, Chinese dragon boats, canoes, and kayaks.

In 2002, when SeaWorld got permission to expand into public parkland, the California Coastal Commission said that the Mission Bay Park Master Plan should mandate park improvement at Fiesta Island and South Shores, just across the bay. The paddlers had been trying to get a launch location for 30 years. The City asked them if they could find one on Fiesta Island. They suggested that small stretch of the dog-running area.

The commission says improvements should be for aquatic purposes. The dog lovers say that some of their pets are water dogs who swim in the bay. And the dog lovers have an organization, Fiesta Island Dog Owners (FIDO), and a website. “We have 3,500 members and over 6,000 signed letters to the mayor,” says Dr. Jean Spengel, a veterinarian who founded FIDO. The group claims the paddlers are the obstinate ones: “If this continues, we will go to the city council. There will be 500 dog owners yelling and screaming,” she warns.

But Les Hopper, spokesman for several boat clubs, says there are probably more than a thousand people who use Mission Bay for a variety of paddling activities. Sneeringly, he says that “At peak usage, there are only about a hundred dogs at the Fiesta Island site — an acre per dog.” And “the majority [of owners] do not clean up their dog poop.”

But Spengel rejoins that if every recreational area were judged on dogs or people per acre, how could one justify a golf course? Moreover, the dog-exercising area “is used 365 days a year, from 5:00 a.m. to dark.” She admits that 10 percent of dog walkers may not clean up poop, “but FIDO is now doing regular cleanups once a quarter. We had 130 people out there one day.”

“We are good citizens,” says Hopper. Each year, the paddling clubs sponsor programs for people in wheelchairs and with spina bifida and other disabilities, says Judith Moore. The paddlers plan to launch their own group, Fiesta Island for All, and set up a website, says Debbie Miller, who, like Moore, is active on behalf of the paddlers.

A year and a half ago, the plan for paddler accommodations got approval from the Mission Bay Park Committee. “The vote was 8–5 — hardly a ringing endorsement,” snorts Carolyn Chase, environmental activist who has taken up the cudgels for the dog lovers. “More than 300 people attended with metaphorical pitchforks.”

“It got very unruly,” agrees Mike Singleton, principal at KTU+A planning and landscape architecture firm, which is honchoing the project. Several months later, the plan got approval from the Design Review Committee of the City Park and Recreation Department board.

The dog lovers say the paddlers belong across the bay at South Shores. But there are environmental problems there, says Singleton. “You can’t do any grading” because of toxicity of the landfill, he says.

Steve Levon is a former boardmember of the Mission Bay Boat and Ski Club, which for two decades has claimed a spot at South Shores on the master plan. “During World War II, the Navy was burying barrels of paint in the general area,” he says. If the toxicity problem were overcome, the boat and ski club would have first crack at South Shores, well ahead of the paddlers. The boat and ski club has “a lot of members, and the club would be a revenue producer with a bar and restaurant.” The paddlers would have no such advantages. Levon says there is a small area at South Shores that might accommodate the paddlers, but there would be no security for the boats, which are expensive.

“There are miles of underutilized beaches where the paddlers could use their boats,” says Chase. FIDO has scouted several Mission Bay areas that supposedly have what the paddlers need. In addition to South Shores, they are Mariner’s Basin and the north and south coves of Vacation Isle.

But Hopper says that they don’t fit his groups’ needs. “The canoes and dragon boats need calm, flat water. The outriggers are looking to get out into the ocean,” he says. The southwest corner of Fiesta Island is ideal for those specifications. Also, the paddlers need safety. They want room to store the boats, which cost $5000 to $12,000. And they don’t want to be too far from the water, because the boats weigh up to 1200 pounds.

“We haven’t specifically evaluated all those other sites,” says Paul Jacob, associate civil engineer in the City Park and Recreation Department, who is the project manager for the southwest Fiesta Island plan that has degenerated into a scrum. The paddlers’ usage of other sites would be incompatible with the Mission Bay Park Master Plan, the conditions of the SeaWorld permit, and the coastal act, says Singleton.

There is a huge question: money. The battleground project in the southwest corner of the island will cost $20 million to $30 million, says Singleton. “This is what we have been saying,” says Spengel. “Why should a city that is broke put in roads and parking lots that will be accessed by a couple of hundred people? Why not save the $20 million? If I were in a neighborhood in which they were closing rec centers, I would get mad to learn that the City is spending the money on Fiesta Island.”

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Comments

Steve_West Feb. 5, 2009 @ 9:27 a.m.

Obviously the writer is not a dog person, nor do they understand dog people. There are many other sites on the island for the boat folks. Come out on Sunday and see for yourself just how responsible the majority of dog owners are!

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 11:36 a.m.

Response to post #1: At any given time, our family consisted of two dogs, five cats, two children, and my wife and myself. We had five dogs (two died young) during the period our children were growing up. I love dogs. People who read the column before it ran thought it was balanced between the two disputants. Best, Don Bauder

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Poncho Feb. 5, 2009 @ 12:03 p.m.

I've been a paddler for 8 years and have had a dog in my family for 3. I understand the needs of both groups. The paddling community wants a space where we can secure our equipment and safely get to the bay and ocean. The proposed location is the best spot in all of the Mission Bay Aquatic Park to house the equipment of all the clubs and it provides the best access to the bay/ocean, while being secure -- secure because Fiesta Island is closed overnight.

It's unfortunate that this issue is being portrayed as a battle between paddlers and dog owners. It's not. The paddling community wants a little bit of space, the FIDO group (not all dog owners btw) does not want to give up any, not even 10%.

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 12:08 p.m.

Response to post #3: While I was doing reporting for this column, the interviewees on both sides would assure me that this was not a battle between dog lovers and paddlers. Then they would turn around and throw insults at the other side. Best, Don Bauder

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kbendel Feb. 5, 2009 @ 1:58 p.m.

FIDO believes FI is working well for all users & should be available to all users. FIDO has offered to work w/paddlers to find a more suitable location but doesn’t change the use of the area by existing users. Boaters & paddlers will always have water access; but those of us who like to exercise w/our dog in an open space, not worry about cars, will lose the last open natural off-leash park in San Diego. Not only does the plan call for a road, fencing & parking lots in the 93 acres of off-leash area, it adds a bisecting road thru the center of FI, adding another intersection for bikers to be concerned. FIDO supports adding bathroom facilities for all users, but why add another road, fences, grass turf during times of water shortages where all users do not benefit.

FIDO has started research on 5 possible locations for Paddle groups. Mariners basin ranks #1 based on req. set by paddlers. Boaters have given input that this area would not conflict with their activities. It is a large cove, flat water, short access to ocean, short access to Sail Bay for paddlers, existing bathrooms & parking lots, & could easily secure boats. The matrix of locations is available, please let us know if there are inaccuracies. www.fidosd.org/pages/paddlersitesv3.pdf

Clarifications: 1 The project manager did have contact w/the paddlers & we have copies of his email to them.
2 Consultant has refused to meet w/FIDO regarding their needs sighting Parks 'n Rec staff did not approve. We have this e-mail. 3.There would be no dredging required at South Shores & no conflict w/Boat & Ski Club moving there some day. 4 There is no security at FI. 5 Paddlers need flat water close to the ocean. Beach location in the off-leash area is in the 5 mph channel. It would require major grading of multiple acres & tons of sand to build the beach out of the tidal zone to be suitable for paddlers. 6Quote: "The paddlers' usage of other sites would be incompatible with the Mission Bay Park Master Plan, the conditions of the SeaWorld permit, & the coastal act". Recreational boating is allowed by permit in the Mission Bay Park Master Plan, is explicitly compatible w/Coastal Act & SeaWorld permits are irrelevant. 7 There will not be more sludge mitigation funds & there are many other needs on FI for remaining funds -< $2 million after spending $500k on this plan which has been shoehorned into the process. 8 Blaming delays on dog owners is irresponsible. The consultant met w/all other users (OMBAC, Paddlers, etc.) & refused to meet w/the largest group, the dog owners. We are just making our needs heard because we were not allowed in the original process.

FIDO has been asked to compromise in every way, but another group who already has available locations has been given carte blanche. As a person who is new to working within the gov’t process, I find, it abusively political & non-democratic. If this plan goes through, it will waste millions of taxpayers dollars.

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 2:44 p.m.

Response to post #5: FIDO has stated its position, and why it thinks the paddlers are blowing smoke. It's up the paddlers, the consultant and the City's project manager to hit back. Best, Don Bauder

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kbendel Feb. 5, 2009 @ 3:06 p.m.

Hit back? The rational and responsible response is to perform due deligence and determine if it is in the tax payers interest to move the paddlers to an existing location that already has the majority of the requirements met. Also, determine, should we spend taxpayers dollars to accomodate the storage of their boats. FI is currently enjoyed by all and not storage of people's property. The process should ensure the right plan is implemented, not a quick rubber stamp move it thru plan. The project manager and consultant have ignored the off-leash precedence set on FI. Why? If you look at the matrix provided at the link in #5 it becomes obvious that there are better economical areas that better fit the paddlers needs. Then it becomes more obvious the process does not ensure the right thing is done with the taxpayer's dollars; and in this case thousands of taxpayers life style will be changed forever if we lose that open natural park as it is today.

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 3:09 p.m.

Response to post #7: I think the key question is whether the City will be able to afford to accommodate the paddlers at FI. The project may not be ready to go for four years, but I personally doubt that San Diego will be in any kind of shape to spend $20 million to $30 million then. Best, Don Baudre

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JohnnyVegas Feb. 5, 2009 @ 3:14 p.m.

Kick out the cry baby paddlers.

Dogs rule!

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kbendel Feb. 5, 2009 @ 3:22 p.m.

I think the key question is should they. I support the paddlers having a location, but don't believe it should be at the expense of thousands of existing users.

There are areas around Mission Bay that allow beach storage for boats with a permit. Both Mariner's point and Southshores have room for the paddlers, with existing infrastructure and the paddlers could be given permits to store their boats there. It would be an awesome setup and would not be a detriment to the budget. The last outrigger event ended at mariner's point, which is a great venue for them. There doesn't need to be a rub between the Paddlers and Dog Owners. If the process protected taxpayer's dollars and was designed to ensure the right thing is done, this would not have escalated.

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Alise Feb. 5, 2009 @ 3:37 p.m.

Your right kbendel. This should not be a fight and there is an easy and cost effective way to resolve it. The Matrix makes it clear and easy to see a better solution and it should be implemented asap. There is room for all in Mission Bay without one group having to give up what they love to do for another group. This is a new political era and we need to focus on solutions and work collaboratively in this new age. This problem has an easy solution, we just need to get everyone focused and committed to the goal - which is finding and creating a proper home for everyone in Mission Bay.

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Alise Feb. 5, 2009 @ 3:44 p.m.

Poncho #3 please check the matrix link -you will see some far better locations for the outrigger canoe and dragon boat storage and launch. This group could have a great home, and far faster than the 4 years it is projected for the Fiesta Island project to take - if it even ever goes through. If I was a member I would be really excited to see that we could have what want quickly and without costing the city 20 million dollars! These alternate location are doable and the dog owners want to help make this happen. Everyone could be happy easily.

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 6:20 p.m.

Response to post #9: Dogs have always ruled our family. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 6:22 p.m.

Response to post #10: But the paddlers say that the locations that FIDO found for them aren't suitable for a variety of reasons. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 6:24 p.m.

Response to post #11: The paddlers say that a reduction of 10 percent in the fenced dog-running area is not so onerous. Best, Don Baudfer

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 6:27 p.m.

Response to post #12: I am still waiting for paddlers to defend themselves on this blog. The dog lovers seem to be much more aggressive. Best, Don Bauder

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sbc Feb. 5, 2009 @ 7 p.m.

Why do the paddlers want to take 10 percent of the "fenced" portion of the off-leash dog park? That would be a big reduction in the size of the fenced in portion of the dog park, especially if it means cutting through that portion of the dog park. I can't take my dog to the smaller 1 or 2 acre dog parks because she got hit on the head by balls one too many times. And this fenced portion affords me the ability to get a workout in along with my dog. I also do not take my dog to the unfenced portions of Fiesta Island because I'd rather not risk their lives on the off chance they do not come when I call them.

It seems the paddlers are just being stubborn. They refuse to look at other less costly options to store and launch their boats ... all at taxpayer expense. San Diego does not have the funds to build them their dream. Those funds should be going back to the recreation centers and libraries that the city has closed.

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kgordon3 Feb. 5, 2009 @ 7:17 p.m.

Poncho wrote: The paddling community wants a little bit of space, the FIDO group (not all dog owners btw) does not want to give up any, not even 10%).

However, as noted in Don's article:

  • In 1972, the City reached a contentious consensus to ban people with pooches from beaches. There was a compromise: the canines and their owners could use Dog Beach in Ocean Beach and Fiesta Island

  • Later, the dog owners lost a chunk of their leash-free land on Fiesta Island.

San Diego city residents who want to use their public parkland to exercise with their dogs HAVE compromised - and that's clearly noted in this article. But the simple fact remains, there is simply NOWHERE else in the city for for dog owners who want to exercise with their dog(s)to go.

This isn't an issue about dogs. It's about exercise and recreation. It's what people choose to do with their city parkland. Getting in a dragon boat or kayak and going out for recreation is just as valid of a recreational use as is running, walking, biking, or strolling with your dog along the one mile of coastland alloted for this purpose. Dog owners simply are not permitted elsewhere ... it's not a matter of a slightly lesser location, it's this or nothing.

It's also irresponsible to quote Les Hopper:

"Sneeringly, he says that “At peak usage, there are only about a hundred dogs at the Fiesta Island site — an acre per dog.”

What Hopper (and by default, you, Mr. Bauder) imply is that there are maybe 100 people a day using the area. What your article leaves out is that the dog owners have by far the highest turnover use of any use on Fiesta Island. The hundred or so people that are using the fenced dog area between six and seven AM each morning are not the same hundred that are there around noon and still a different hundred or so folks there around five or six. There are literally hundreds of dog owners that use the island each day, year round. To use this quote is to propagate a half (if that) truth. This is the reason that FIDO has thousands of supporters - because there are literally thousands of people that use this area of Fiesta Island.

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cheance Feb. 5, 2009 @ 7:33 p.m.

-cheance adair- head coach for San Diego Outrigger, head coach for Team Survivor San Diego Dragonboat Team; assistant coach to CAF (Challenged Athletes Foundation)’s Operation Rebound – a continuing effort to give disabled vets, and first responders (firefighters, police, etc) an opportunity to paddle and eventually race outrigger canoes. I’d love to respond to this blog, as Im sure many of our contingency would. We feel that a united front will best serve our purposes, and while you may not hear from all of us on this blog, note that there are many with fingers poised over the keyboard waiting for the green-light. We aren’t interested in waging “war” or taking any “strikes” to the opposition, as many of us feel that there should be no such thing. The consultants and developers have spent, as stated, hundreds of dollars reworking the development plan to appease a user group that cries the loudest. I wonder how Council will justify a decision to spend more money to research that which already has been exhaustively researched. And how will city tax payers and park users, and visitors to San Diego, who come here to use beach access facilities, feel when they find out that City Council has sided with dog owners and have usurped beach-use property from youth groups, cancer survivor groups, and challenged athletes? Our user group is not limited to those who already own personal paddle craft, or to pre-existing outrigger or paddling clubs. Our goal, our hope is to expand paddling opportunities beyond those limits. Those limits are pressed upon us due to the constraint of available, safe and user-friendly venues, such a venue would be provided under the current redevelopment plan. I use Fiesta Island every weekend to paddle with the cancer survivor women, and to walk my dog. I fully believe, as should everyone, that there is plenty of land available to share.

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sbc Feb. 5, 2009 @ 8:38 p.m.

cheance, you make is sound like there is only one option for paddlers. That is not true. Dog owners do not have as many and it seems they just keep getting smaller. And, whenever there is a triathlon at Mission Beach, dog owners lose access to Fiesta Island until the races are done. For two weekends every summer, when "Off the Line" comes to town the island is completely off-limits. For someone who lives in Carmel Valley, who does not have access to Del Mar Beach in the summer time (but have since stopped going there since my dog got tumbled in the surf and won't go back), it makes for more challenging times trying to keep my dog exercised.

Now, why can't paddlers share space with the camp that is on Fiesta Island? That area is already behind fences and they store boats over there. Crazy thing is that every time I've been over to Fiesta Island, which is two or three times a week, I've never seen any boats launched from there. Can't that place be expanded onto unfenced land at a cost that is far less than the $20 to $30 million being thrown around?

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PB92109 Feb. 5, 2009 @ 8:41 p.m.

As a disabled person and a dog owner that uses the off-leash area at Fiesta Island I am very saddened to see the paddler representative bring disabled people and cancer survivors into the discussion. Do we do a head count of how many disabled people, cancer survivors, children and families recreate in the different ways and whoever has the most wins? Be real.

The Dept of Parks and Recreation is to blame for all this by trying to take away a large, intact dog area that was established by ordinance in 1972.

Somebody in Parks and Rec. made the decision to do this without consulting anybody and told the consultant to design it this way. The rest is all window dressing. Parks and Rec. management has always been against off-leash recreation. It had to be forced by the City Council in 2000 to establish off-leash areas in the city.

At that time District 3 had 2 off-leash areas, due to the efforts of Chris Kehoe/Toni Atkins' but there were no others in the entire city other than Fiesta Island and dog beach. Those came from the 1972 ordinance banning off-leash dogs on all the beaches.

This city is broke- haven't you been driving around lately on our pot-holed streets? If Park and Rec are bound and determined to develop Fiesta Island then don't take away space from the existing users; finding another economical location for new users only makes sense.

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Twister Feb. 5, 2009 @ 8:47 p.m.

A score of comments shows where the public heart lies. T E R R I T O R Y. aka division, not reconcilitation. Maturity?

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 10:06 p.m.

Response to post #17: How many people run their dogs in that unfenced area? There is a lot of room there. Will well-trained dogs stay close to their masters in that area? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 10:10 p.m.

Response to post #18: You'll notice in that column that after Hopper made the statement that you allude to, Dr. Spengel came right back with the same argument you use. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 10:14 p.m.

Response to post #19: The paddlers have stated that disabled people are a large part of their program. I would suggest to the paddlers, however, that they get organized and start making noise. The dog lovers are passing petitions, lobbying the pols, have a website, etc. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 10:16 p.m.

Response to post #20: I'm not sure the paddlers can use the area now used by scouts, if that is what you are alluding to. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 10:22 p.m.

Response to post #21: If Park and Rec made the decision without consulting anybody (and I don't know that it did), it sure can't do so now, particularly since the project can't go forward for another 4 years and, as you point out, the City is broke. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 10:23 p.m.

Response to post #22: The dispute is definitely territorial. Aren't most disputes? Isn't that what war is usually about? Best, Don Bauder

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PB92109 Feb. 5, 2009 @ 10:30 p.m.

Don Bauder, isn' t your role as writer to report the facts? I am shocked that you are lobbying for one group to fight another, and suggesting organizing tactics. Is this your responsibility as a reporter? Frankly I find it astonishing. Where is your integrity? You were once a voice in the wilderness. Now you appear to be nothing more than a shill provoking a fight.

Writing your column from Colorado-- hmmm, did you go to the site and see how the road right down the middle would bisect the area and destroy its integrity? Did you walk the area and see the topography involved?

Perhaps we could build a road through the middle of your back yard to the nearest boat dock. It would only take 10% of your lawn. No biggie.

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2009 @ 7:14 a.m.

Response to post #29: As the column reported, there is now an effort to re-route that road so it won't bisect the dog walkers' territory. Best, Don Bauder

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Jean Feb. 6, 2009 @ 8:35 a.m.

Response to post #30: At a meeting with Mike Singleton, the option of a 'shorter' road was discussed. When asked if there would be a problem if the dogs had access to the boats, the paddlers representative said 'that would be a problem'. So, the option of re-routing the road (ie,-shortening it) would not do anything to resolve the conflict. FIDO's position from the beginning is that we have no other place to go, so yes, we will fight for our 90 acre fenced exercise area. However, our intention has always been to find a compromise that would provide a space for ALL users, dog owners and paddlers included. We have never said that the paddlers were unwelcome or didn't deserve a space. However, their location within our area will require roads, fences and parking lots that will bisect our space and make it less usable and dangerous, not to mention the $20 million price tag. Their insistence on locating within our area remains a mystery to us as there are other existing locations within Mission Bay that fulfill the list of requirements that they themselves gave to the developer (KTU&A) at a meeting on October 4, 2006. These other locations already have roads, parking lots and other costly improvements in place. The paddlers seem determined to roadblock this project by refusing to consider these locations.
FIDO has no interest in delaying this project or taking this fight to council chambers (I think the city council has much more important issues to deal with right now) What we're asking for is a fair and equitable solution and to not be displaced from the only place in all of Southern California that allows us to exercise with our off-leash dogs. This is not about the dogs but about the 1000's of humans who want a place to go and exercise,- with their dogs.

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EarthDayMom Feb. 6, 2009 @ 9:29 a.m.

We could bring out our service dogs who work with the disabled 24/7 but why is that even factor? Is it incorrect that FIDO has not compromised. We have agreed to losing lots of space on the rest of Fiesta Island. There is room for the paddlers in many other locations yet they have refused to discuss rationally yet want taxpayers to subsidize at the most expensive location where existing users have no other place to go! What's UP with that? FIDO even offered to help prepare any plan amendments that might be required at any other locations. Yet the paddlers' response has literally been to sneer and refuse to even discuss. What's up with THAT? So far, they appear wanting more to fight than compromise all the while accusing FIDO of this - incorrectly. Why don't they sit down to discuss?

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2009 @ 9:43 a.m.

Response to post #31: FIDO has lots of good arguments, but the $20 million to $30 million cost is your best one. San Diego is broke, and won't be out of the woods in four years. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2009 @ 9:46 a.m.

Response to post #32: If they refuse to sit down with FIDO (and I don't know if that is true), it's probably because they don't feel that the locations you cite are adequate. Best, Don Bauder

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Alise Feb. 6, 2009 @ 9:47 a.m.

Mr. Bauder, I am shocked to log back on here today and read your comments provoking both sides of this issue. I have dealt with many journalists in my time and have never met one who works so hard to try to stir up the pot as you have. Is this what The Reader instructs you to do? Your job is to report the news, not write provoking comments to bate each group on this comment page. Have you sacrificed your journalistic ethics to try to gain some sort of monetary bonus with the Reader? Or is it just in your nature to try to deflect people away from working together to reach a solution? Either way you should be ashamed of yourself. If you want to continue to be involved in this issue (not a journalists role btw) you should stop trying to further separate the two groups and start trying to bring them together.

Neither group needs the additional harm and strife you are trying to inflict. These two groups will work together to find a solution in the end, without people like you benefiting from the strife you try to perpetuate.

People of both sides, I suggest we take this discussion away from this forum, where the only possible benefit it is having is on Mr. Bauders career. Let's sit down and talk in person and sort out all the locations and issues and find solutions that work for everyone. Paddling is a team sport and dogs are pack animals - I know we all have the ability to work together, please let's make it happen now!

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Nalu Feb. 6, 2009 @ 11:18 a.m.

Don, I have always enjoyed your investigative pieces, but I don't think you did much research on this one. I am pretty sure the 20-30 million dollar project (if that is the cost) is for redevelopment of all of Fiesta Island, not just the southwest corner for the paddlers. If paddlers are excluded from the redevelopment project, the project cost is still going to be $20-30 million. As an ocean paddler, I would prefer somewhere closer to the ocean for access, but the redevelopment of Fiesta Island is the only project under consideration by the City. The Fido folks gladly suggest better locations for us, but I think they also know the environmental and public review process would be impractical for any other site at this time or even in the near future, at least Carol Chase knows that. When they talk about us refusing to meet with them, it is because they wanted us to meet and agree to go somewhere else. But Fiesta Island is the only game in town. Frankly, I think their ultimate goal is to prevent any development from occurring which is too bad because a significant part of the Fiesta Island redevelopment is the protection and enhancement of environmental habitat. We in the paddling community got involved because we have been left out of the planning process of Mission Bay for many decades and this became our first opportunity to secure a safe and designated location. It was a real surprise to see how much anger occured from our involvement. No one knows if this plan will ever go forward, but if it does it will require approval of the state Coastal Commission. Presumably, they will be a little more sensitive to the protection of habitat and expansion of multi-recreation activity especially as it relates to an ocean sports.

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kbendel Feb. 6, 2009 @ 12:07 p.m.

36 Actually 3 of the alternative sites have the least impact to the environment because the Paddle clubs could be setup without grading and can use the existing beach. All the beach in the off-leashed fenced area is under the tidal zone so the plans states a new beach will be built. This requires grading back acres of land, further reducing the size of the area and hauling in new sand. All this construction would be right next to the least tern area. During construction there would be a road right down the middle and the entire area would most likely be fenced off and useless do to safety concerns.

The $20 to $30 million dollars, is estimate for just the fenced off-leash area. The total island redevelopment was originally estimated at $200 million, then later lowered to ~$130 million.

Also, in the new plan dog owners lose 30% of off-leash access around the island so those users would now move to the fenced area further increasing usage.

We compromised on the 30% loss, but want to keep the off-leash fenced area intact.

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Nalu Feb. 6, 2009 @ 12:43 p.m.

Thanks, kbendel, that is the kind of information Don Bauder should have clarified. But I think my point continues to be on target: Even if Fido gets rid of the paddlers, the price tag for that corner is essentially going to be the same. Thanks again for the clarification.

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2009 @ 12:51 p.m.

Response to post #35: I am a columnist. My job is not to "report the news." That's what reporters do. I interpret the news. And my interpretation is that no matter how fervently both sides claim they would like to smoke the peace pipe and work toward a friendly solution, they dislike each other intensely . Remember, I have talked with several on both sides of the issue. The enmity comes through loud and clear. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2009 @ 12:55 p.m.

Response to post #36: At last! We hear from the paddlers. I will stick by the $20 million - $30 million figure until the consultant, my source, tells me there was a miscommunication. I don't believe there was. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2009 @ 1 p.m.

Response to post #37: Many of these numbers were mentioned in the original column. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2009 @ 1:02 p.m.

Response to post #38: I thought I had clarified most of that information. Best, Don Bauder

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PB92109 Feb. 6, 2009 @ 2:40 p.m.

The blame still lies with Parks and Recreation.

If the design consultants were told from the beginning that the people using the dog area constituted an existing user group that was not to be displaced then none of this would have occurred.

Another solution would have been found that works for the paddlers.

This whole situation shows the disdain that Parks and Recreation holds for people whose chosen form of recreation is running/walking off-leash with their dogs.

We were told by them years ago to GO TO FIESTA ISLAND when we attempted to establish more neighborhood dog parks in PB. After following their directive they now tell us too bad, we are going to develop the area you use to run with your dogs into parking/roads/fences etc. I find the whole thing despicable.

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kbendel Feb. 6, 2009 @ 2:57 p.m.

Response to #39: As far as enmity, there are many of us who have dogs and paddle, take this situation away and there is no rub.

According to one of the e-mails provided by the city, the paddlers were told to choose from two areas on FI which included the off leash area, so they selected the area that is now in dispute. I really doubt anyone involved understood that area had been used as off-leash for over 10 years.

It points to a broken process: why didn't the city do their homework and stop many of the issues that plagued this project from the beginning. Why assign the project management position to a paddler putting that employee in a conflict of interest position and subject to attack. I doubt he knew the level of use that area has. Why approve building a $20 to $30 million beach next to the least tern area and in the middle of an off-leash area that has been in use for well over 10 years.

This should never have happened nor gone this far.

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Fred Williams Feb. 6, 2009 @ 5:11 p.m.

It's actually looking like the city, with it's weird ways of doing it's strange business behind closed doors has been behind these exaggerated costs and unnecessary conflicts.

At the same time, they're considering privatizing Balboa Park.

Paddlers and dog runners both, I hope you use this opportunity to go around those jokers downtown and find a real solution.

After all, dogs and boats aren't incompatible. I'm sure there's a way for this to be worked out, as long as you get the officials from the city out of your way.

Best,

Fred

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Helen McKenna Feb. 6, 2009 @ 5:55 p.m.

I agree with PB92109 in #43. The 1972 law making Fiesta Island leash-free should have been honored by Park and Rec. Mr. Bauder -- $20-30 million isn't the best argument for dog owners. The above fact is.

The "disdain" that PB92109 mentions Park and Rec. having for dog owners is familiar to me. I come from Hudson County, New Jersey. It was one of the most corrupt counties in the country. I was literally surrounded by racketeers, Mafia mobsters and crooked city and county officials.

After 6 years dealing with Park and Rec. on off-leash dog areas, I got the same bad taste in my mouth I had in New Jersey. Talk about disdain for the people. I expected more, maybe because of all the pretty sunshine. Naive I guess. But the pretty sunshine seemed to clash with all our city corruption.

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2009 @ 8:19 p.m.

Response to post #43: Your opponents, the paddlers, say they are taking only 10 percent of your space, although the road may expropriate more. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2009 @ 8:21 p.m.

Response to post #44: If true, this is not the first example of a broke process in San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2009 @ 8:24 p.m.

Response to post #45: Are you suggesting Fiesta Island be privatized? Wouldn't be unusual. I understand the Over the Line contestants often show their private parts. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2009 @ 8:26 p.m.

Response to post #46: We can make a movie about the similarities of mobbed-up New Jersey and the San Diego government. The title: The Dogfather. Best, Don Bauder

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Helen McKenna Feb. 8, 2009 @ 1:58 p.m.

Don: Great title. Unfortunately I'm in the midst of writing another book of comedy right now, doesn't include World's Finest City. Will have to put Dogfather off for now. Speaking of superlatives, I just read this morning that New Jersey was voted most corrupt state in the country. Louisiana came in second. Helen

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sdbeaches Feb. 8, 2009 @ 4:55 p.m.

It is always sad to hear that we are benefiting by paving parkland and ruining open space on Mission Bay and San Diego parks.

I have seen the city bull doze parkland before when they expanded the Dana Inn and Marina. It was for "our benefit" because they could raise more tax dollars. There are many other examples like the proposed highway at Trestles where we are being led to believe that paving parkland is a good thing.

What a lot of people do not understand is that the humans need walking as much if not much more than the dogs do.

It just so happens that this is one of the few spots where dog owners can walk for 45 minutes and get some fresh air and take the dogs with them.

In a day where at least 2/3 of the population is obese or over weight the more spots people have to walk the better. It just so happens that "walking the dog" makes for a good incentive for both people and dogs to walk at the same time.

I am suprised that the article did not mention the deal the Boy Scouts have in one of the most wind protected sections of the bay. The last I heard they have been sub leasing the space to to other groups anyway. How is it that the boy scouts can get one of the most wind protected sections of the bay and the public cannot use it.

Instead of bull dozing more parkland with pavement and spending 20 million dollars, why doesn't the city get the Boy Scouts to share their space with the general public and let both groups use the space.

Paving parkland and ruining some of the last open space on Mission Bay is not the answer. The city is in no position to spend 20 million dollars for boat owners when there are plenty of other places to launch boats on Mission Bay.

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Don Bauder Feb. 8, 2009 @ 5:53 p.m.

Response #51: The recession has gotten so bad that in New Jersey, the Mafia has laid off 12 judges. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 8, 2009 @ 5:57 p.m.

Response to post #52: Could the City fence in the area that is not leash-free? It's a lot of acreage. It would give the dog-walkers much more room. Best, Don Bauder

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lenny Feb. 8, 2009 @ 6:26 p.m.

I'm a dog owner and kayaker. It was and always will be Feces Island to me. I can't stand the smell of any of the Dog Beaches. If my greyhounds take a dump by the time I get near the spot there are so many piles I can't identify mine so I keep them leashed until they are empty. That goes for any dog park in San Diego. The locals in O B have a special knack for looking the other way.

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Don Bauder Feb. 8, 2009 @ 9:16 p.m.

Response to poset #55: FIDO says it is having big cleanups. Have you had this Feces Island impression after those cleanups? Best, Don Bauder

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Helen McKenna Feb. 9, 2009 @ 5:11 p.m.

Don - #54. Like so many great jokes, based on truth. And fighting city hall is almost impossible when city has upper hand, so no level playing field. I got burned out.

Speaking of fighting city hall, last night I dreamed of Mike Aguirre. I was helping him on some project. Why was he in my dream? Must have been a mistake, some kind of wires crossed and it was an old Mayor Sanders nightmare.

To #55 Lenny: Maybe we could get somewhere if everybody promised to be scrupulously, sickenly honest and self-critical. Ha ha. That means forget all the dog poop exaggerations. Helen

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Don Bauder Feb. 9, 2009 @ 7:31 p.m.

Response to post #57: Sanders is a cause of nightmares for some. The nightmares will get worse. Best, Don Bauder

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pawsinsd Feb. 10, 2009 @ 9:29 p.m.

Years ago I testified at Land Use and Housing in front of Harry Mathis when they wanted to make Fiesta Island into a golf course. I said that this was the San Diego that tourists don't see, that is a free place for dog owners and many others to go. I said that to turn it into a place where 144 white guys could hit a little ball would be a disservice to all San Diegans.

Since 1995 I've worked to gain legal leash-free areas for dog owners. While gaining some traction, Fiesta Island was never up for grabs until I moved away. See, I promised my dog a leash-free area and she died awaiting it. I worked in the inner circle of leash-free advocates and even served on a park board because I believe in parks, not just in dogs and their owners. I had to fight to join my rec council because they governed our park but we were not allowed to be represented, so I pulled out my "taxation without representation" speech and threatened another Boston Tea Party.

Dog owners have worked so hard over the past 15 years, for so little gain. Fiesta Island was ours until it was nearly taken away and we had to fight for it again. Now paddlers think they can come in and take all these years of work away. Do unto others comes to mind. Dog owners scratched to get part of what they were granted by law and now newcomers are here scratching for a part of that.

Did anyone paddle in the last decade? If so, where were you? Now you come and demand access and if you throw the City Council a hundred dollar bill they'd probably give you Fiesta Island and more. Its a sad state for my city.

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Don Bauder Feb. 11, 2009 @ 6:53 a.m.

Response to post #59: Paddlers only want to take a corner of dog lovers' land. However, a road and parking area would discommode the dog walkers. I have suggested that more of the unfenced area now used for dog walking be fenced. Best, Don Bauder

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Helen McKenna Feb. 11, 2009 @ 8:51 a.m.

Don: Why mess with the present or fencing some of current unfenced area when there is question I have going way back. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but has anybody or anything changed the 1972 law that made all of Fiesta Island leash-free? And dog beach in Ocean Beach?

And simultaneously, the 1972 law was enacted so all other beaches could be closed to dogs. This was the trade-off. And closed not only to leash-free dogs, but dogs period. City closed not only the sand, but the shores, the sidewalks, land that's yards and yards away, hardly defined as "beaches". (Forget the tiny bit of few hours on leashes now allowed--insignificant.)

Maybe this is where we need to go now, back to where it all started in 1972 and start all over again. If we look around, we see miles and miles of beach and bay area in our city, all closed to people with dogs. Other cities, that don't brag about being "the Finest" do not have such ignorant Draconian restrictions on people exercising their dogs, or running WITH their dogs. Finest, my foot. Helen

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Don Bauder Feb. 11, 2009 @ 10:14 a.m.

Response to post #61: In the debate over this Fiesta Island matter, a revisit to the 1972 disagreements might shed some light on the matter. Best, Don Bauder

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