The Boulders may soon be in Mission Trails Regional Park
  • The Boulders may soon be in Mission Trails Regional Park
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At the April 17 meeting on the Mission Trails Regional Park master plan update, speakers included rock climbers, mountain bikers, and property owners. Topics for the first two groups included access and the Quail Brush power plant. Property owners talked about land proposed for addition to the park. A landowner considered it notable to mention that the meeting occurred during the week before Easter.

The draft EIR (environmental impact report) scoping meeting included overviews of the update and the multiple species conservation program (MSCP) developed concurrently with the plan. The update covers the nearly 5800-acre park and additional land in two areas.

The approximately 1360-acre West Sycamore land was designated part of the park when the San Diego city council approved the Sycamore Estates Development Agreement in 2001.

Also eyed for addition to Mission Trails is the approximately 2500-acre East Elliott area, which is bounded to the east by residences in Santee, to the south by SR-52, and to the north and west by Miramar. According to the update, 850 acres of that land is in private ownership. The other 1650 acres includes some 648 acres owned by the city and the 693-acre Sycamore Landfill.

In 1997, the MSCP identified most of East Elliott as multiple habitat planning area, and the East Elliott community plan was changed to designate the area as open space.

Property owner Stephen Goldfarb said the MSCP would have given the city 75 percent of the land "at no charge." In return, property owners could develop the remaining 25 percent, "but someone in the city decided they wanted all the property."

Jack Zarour said the week was "special" because it was Holy Week. After speaking about his faith, Zarour said his father bought East Elliott land in 1982. He said the city made an offer in 2010 and "then took the property out just before Christmas. [His father] lost hope; he stopped eating" and died in February 2013. "There needs to be proper compensation."

Also on private property is the Boulders, a climbing area on Mast Boulevard in Santee. Property owners allow access, said Adam Kimmerly of Allied Climbers of San Diego. He said climbers want access to remain open if the land is added to the park.

"Climbers have been excellent stewards of the land," he said, adding they were honored by the Santee City Council for removing graffiti.

Jason Showalter of the San Diego Mountain Biking Association recommended that the update "address how the trail plan and EIR work together."

Mark Schulze, who climbs and bikes in the park, urged people to contact the California Energy Commission about Quail Brush. He and speakers including Stephen Houlahan of Save Mission Trails objected to Cogentrix's request for a second-year suspension of their application to construct the plant on Sycamore Landfill Road. (The deadline for public comment is April 23.) Houlahan also recommended "stronger language against industrial zoning" in the plan.

Furthermore, Cheryl Martin, who lives near Cowles Mountain, said she was "very pleased" with an update recommendation to add parking on the Barker Way side of the mountain.

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