Categories on poster board with most red dots next to them indicated the highest priorities
As people decided what they want to see the city do with De Anza Cove at a meeting held Thursday (June 16) at nearby Mission Bay High School, a recurring theme emerged: "Save Campland, whether at its current location or in a new one," said a representative from the Over the Hill Gang. "Campland gives us a space every year and we are so grateful."
While the Over the Hill Gang looks ahead to holding their 44th annual Streak Car Show at Campland in May of next year, others talked about spending summers there, sending visiting friends to stay there, and how the campground shares its resources with the community. Having such a place, for recreational vehicle, tent, and cabin camping, made the top-five list of priorities for the De Anza Cove redo.
All of this became possible with the March settlement of a pair of long-running lawsuits over the city's attempts to boot the longtime residents out of the best-located mobile home park in San Diego.
The city has launched public discussions about what to do with the 76 acres empty land, incorporating it into plans for the area north and east of there, where there is currently an 18-hole golf course, an athletic center, and, across the Rose Creek Inlet, Campland on the Bay. Habitat restoration also made the public's top-five priorities list; nearby resident Sandy Skewes was pleased by that.
"There's a real need for a thoughtful restoration — this was a salt marsh," Skewes said. "You could create a couple of nodes of habitat in the bay with connectivity, and you could end up with an area where you'd have synergy."
Many who favor habitat restoration also want trails through the area so that people can be in touch with the origins of the bay.
"There's a whole part of the Mission Bay community who spend a lot of time at the Kendall Frost Reserve," Skewes said. "This community sees real value in habitat protection."
The remaining sure-thing priorities — preserving the golf course, a new restaurant, and making the whole area safe for bicyclists, walkers, and runners — have already made the cut with planners, facilitator Glen Schmidt explained.
What the nearly 200 attendees did at the Thursday-night meeting was help sort out the next tier of priorities, which includes swimming and water-play spots with sandy beaches, a boat ramp, and many other options.
City planners had gathered more than 1400 online surveys and another 200 comments from an earlier meeting. A list of nearly two dozen ideas was set up on an easel and attendees, given five red-dot decals each, were asked to apply them next to their favored priorities. Attendees quickly rejected an off-leash dog park.
Boardmember Vicki Granowitz, a retired psychotherapist who serves on many city boards, discredited the off-leash dog-park idea.
"I think it's really easy for Carolyn Chase [of Fiesta Island Dog Owners] to get people to go online and vote for an off-leash dog park and not show up here at the meeting," Granowitz said to applause. She noted that nearby Fiesta Island has lots of off-leash areas. "I see no reason at all for an off-leash park to be considered." But another boardmember pointed out that the nearest off-leash area was a two-mile walk from the neighborhood adjoining De Anza Cove, to a smattering of clapping.
Other planning-board members said the responses were too micro-focused.
"Mission Bay is a park where people go out on the water and we're only looking at the land," Karin Zirk said. "I'd like to see more pictures of people kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and canoeing — and we have no mention of that here."
The lively conversation went on for two hours, with city staff and consultants taking copious notes. "We'll come back to the public with an updated plan based on your comments and thoughts in September," Schmidt promised people. "There have been a lot of good ideas and informative comments, and we are paying attention."