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Crescent Beach, the stretch of sand along the northwest shore of Mission Bay, doesn’t look much like a beach. Indeed, events there have instead called to mind one of those trick birthday candles, those which you blow and the fire seems to go out but a few seconds later the wick mischievously explodes into flames again. People in Pacific beach keep huffing and puffing, trying to extinguish the last spark of controversy surrounding the area, but the heat just won’t die down.

For a long time, controversy revolved around the Crescent Beach Piers, 27 privately owned structures at which area residents docked their boats. Pier owners, such as former newspaper publisher Clinton McKinnon and former city councilman Bob Martinet lined up on one side of that battle, with anti-pier people drawn mostly from the ranks of the PB Town Council. After countless rounds, the anti-pier interests seemed to win the struggle when the San Diego City Council ordered destruction of the piers last June (only a handful of the piers have been removed as yet). Then last week, when it seemed as if the pier controversy had barely died down, a new issue exploded.

Igniting it was the unexpected appearance at a town council meeting of about two dozen Crescent Beach residents including McKinnon, Martinet, former county supervisor Lou Conde and PB Business Association president Vern Taylor, and new members who don’t normally attend the meetings. They demanded that the group reconsider the feasibility of a proposed public bike and walkway which would wrap around the entire bay and bring people into the Crescent Beach homeowners’ backyards. Stunned, the town council leaders protested that the bikeway (which had been scheduled for consideration by the city council yesterday had been planned for Mission Bay for about 17 years.) Why hadn’t Crescent Beach homeowners objected before? They asked.

“It’ll be several years before any plan can be implemented,” retorts McKinnon, who grouses that the bay shores would have to be built up to accommodate a bike path, a sore point for him since the pier owners and the city shared the tab for dredging part of Sail Bay in 1960. “Mission Bay was created for marine sports and I don’t feel a bike path is appropriate,” McKinnon continues , “A bicycle path along here could probably bring in quite a bit of disorder and lawlessness.”

McKinnon complaints notwithstanding, the PB town council rejected his motion just barely. However, the city council yesterday postponed thier plans for the Crescent Beach/Sail Bay area, McKinnon indicated he and his neighbors may try the same thing again at the next month’s town council meeting. Town Council president Eve Small says she’s worried about that, but also about the possibility the action might be part of a broader move similar to the coup which overthrew the PB planning group committee last spring. “They want to castrate the town council,” she complained, “the same way they did the planning committee so we won’t be able to get anything accomplished.”

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