"We've found that we can leave the creek where it is and accomplish our goal through the use of tidal channels."
The group tasked with reimagining wildlife habitat along the northern edge of Mission Bay unveiled a new set of proposals on Tuesday evening (April 25).
De Anza Cove. "Mostly what we have here under the blacktop is what was historically marsh soil."
The three draft alternatives include new developments and some departures from a set of eight proposals that were unveiled last September.
According to Rebecca Schwartz Lesberg, project manager for ReWild Mission Bay, "The biggest change in getting down from eight alternatives to three is that some of those eight had footprints that were much smaller than what we see today – when we put them through our sea level exercise we saw that they weren't sustainable," Schwartz Lesberg continued
New at this week's presentation were map overlays for each of the plans showing expected sea level rise in 2020, 2050, and 2100; by the latter period even the most ambitious plans are expected to become nearly entirely submerged.
"There are two main ways that we can make space for wetlands here," Schwartz Lesberg explained. "The first is by excavating out fill material that was historically placed at both the Campland and De Anza sites, basically bulldozing those parking lots and lowering the elevations. The other piece is taking that material out and using it to build up shallows in adjacent areas."
The dirt built up to raise the former mobile home park and soon-to-close campground would be spread to fill in De Anza Cove, push the tidelands out farther directly from the current Campland site (extending the Rose Creek discharge in a more or less straight line), or both.
But cars, motorhomes, and people have long occupied these sites – wouldn't oil and other contaminants make this dirt a poor choice for building sensitive habitat?
"We don't have oil infrastructure, we don't have landfill activities, "Schwartz Lesberg reassured. "Mostly what we have here under the blacktop is what was historically marsh soil," dredged up when what was False Bay and 4500 acres of wetlands was converted in the Fifties and Sixties to create Mission Bay Park.
"The other big change," she continued, "is that some of the other alternatives had some pretty creative re-routing of Rose Creek. The idea was to get fresh water and sediment from the creek over to the Kendall-Frost Marsh. But we've found that we can leave the creek where it is and accomplish our goal through the use of tidal channels," smaller depressions that would allow the creek water to naturally disperse.
"De Anza can be tough – in terms of flushing, it's pretty stagnant," Schwartz Lesberg continued. "The whole northeast corner of Mission Bay has water quality issues. The residence time at De Anza Cove can be as much as 22 days," meaning it takes more than three weeks for water to escape the secluded nook and be replenished by fresh water brought in from the San Diego River channel.
"And there's something like four or five storm drains that empty into the cove. So by filling it in, we're able to stop that stagnation and restore some of the water flow around the bay."
ReWild's plan has drawn some of its sharpest criticism from patrons of Campland on the Bay, who have packed city council and ReWild meetings to advocate for continued overnight access to the bayfront. Earlier this month, the private campground's lease was extended for three years, as final plans for the site are still up in the air.
"The city's master plan definitely prioritizes keeping access to camping in the northeast corner of Mission Bay," Schwartz Lesberg says, emphasizing that her group is involved only with the habitat restoration of the project. "While Campland's lease is expiring, the city is working with them to figure out where on the east side of Rose Creek makes the most sense for them. It's really up to the city."