Save Kayak & Paddle Board Access to Mission Bay!

posted by Dwight Arnold -

Activist websites for this include:

http://www.keepmissionbaypublic.org/ 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/People.Against.Bahia.Land.grab/about/

Those of you know me, know I am a water person. I love sailing kayaking and paddle boarding.  Most of my paddle boarding and kayaking is done from the parking lots adjacent to the Bahia hotel and right on Mission Bay.

Thanks to Peggy Beattie for this update on a threat to that public land:

While cyclists and walkers have access to 100% of Mission Bay, people with non-motorized watercraft have less than 25% access. Bahia represents the only real beach where one can park next to grass, walk their boats down to the water on sand and safely launch. As you know people picnic there, set up pop-up tents, have family events, etc. all summer long. There's no logical reason his hotel improvements need to eliminate the parking spaces on Gleason Road. The Mission Bay Master Plan specifically dictates that Gleason Road must stay, and that water users maintain access to the water.

The following is Peggy's letter to the Senator addressing the issue (There is A LOT to read here..but it is IMPORTANT)

Dear Senator Toni Atkins, January 29, 2018 I’m writing about an issue of grave concern to the water-loving, taxpaying citizens of San Diego. This is a horrific case of corporate greed vs. the People. It is about the privatization of public Park and Recreation land being railroaded through committees stacked with appointees friendly to the applicant, and without proper public input or review. You know me as a champion for the rights of those who don’t have money to buy influence. This is important! The applicant, Bill Evans, a hotelier you know well, who owns the Catamaran Resort and the Lodge at Torrey Pines also owns the Bahia Resort, a rare leasehold set on public Park and Recreation land. He has submitted a proposal for expansion that takes possession of the public Gleason Road, removes the public restrooms and removes the 250 public parking spaces that allow citizens access the waters of Mission Bay Park, an aquatic park, with their watercraft, to park beside a grassy strip, set out their boats, bbqs, picnic gear, and launch safely. The majority of Mission Bay is inaccessible due to other resorts (like his), private homes, marinas and the intense rock rip-rap lining the shoreline. He wants to add a second swimming pool and 300 additional rooms to his resort. Two swimming pools next to the bay and the ocean is ridiculous. The applicant wants a private peninsula that he controls, on public land. Period. We now have a strong mayor form of government, and thus far all the committees that have heard the applicant’s presentations have been appointees by mayor Faulconer. Convenient. They have all greeted the applicant with “Hi Bill, so nice to see you again.” Steve Alexander, chair of the Mission Bay Park Committee, spent ten minutes joking with him about how we, those with water craft, should all take über down to the beach with our 20’ long boats. Disrespectful. At the end of that meeting, a meeting convened without public notice and without the agenda being published beforehand, a city employee stood up and proclaimed that the Coastal Commission had read and approved the proposal. Unfortunately he lied. The Coastal Commission has reviewed and NOT approved the proposed renovation because, as was written in an email by Deborah Lee of the Coastal Commission, to city officials two years ago, that “launch and water access must be maintained,” and she was disturbed at the suggestion of the “privatization of public lands.” But because of the untruthful statement by the city staffer, suggesting the Coastal Commission approved the proposal, the Mission Bay Park Committee approved Mr. Evans’ proposal. There are several places where the proposed development conflicts with the Mission Bay Master Plan, a 20-year-old document that needs to be updated to reflect today’s increased water craft use, traffic and the need for more parking, not less. The hotelier knows full well that relocation of parking according to their plan will result in a private beach environment for their hotel guests, to the permanent exclusion of the citizens of San Diego. And make no mistake, there is no trial period to see how it works out. There is no going back from this. This would be a permanent, major blow to the general public’s ability to access one of the best, most enjoyable, safest beach resources in all of Mission Bay Park. In addition to the inadequacies of the Master Plan for this area, the proposal appears to violate some essential provisions of Council Policy 700-08. As you are probably aware, Council Policy 700-08 was adopted in October, 2000, and relates specifically to development  policies for the park. Significantly, this Council Policy was adopted 3 years after this Master Plan, so it would supersede any Master Plan statements. I would like to quote a few of the pertinent passages in this council policy. From the BACKGROUND: “The use of Mission Bay Park has increased to a level where it is prudent to delineate specific remaining development and uses of land and water areas in the park in order to ensure quality oriented recreational opportunities.” POLICY STATEMENTS: A GENERAL, 1:“It is the policy of the City Council to develop, operate and maintain Mission Bay Park as an aquatically oriented recreational resource for the use of the general public.” 5: “It is the policy of the City Council that the development of land areas of Mission Bay Park shall be designed to further the aquatic utilization of the park…" A 10: “It is the policy of the City Council that the beach areas of Mission Bay Park shall remain open and accessible to the general public at all times..” B 3: “It is the policy of the City Council that commercial lease boundary lines adjacent to the shoreline of Mission Bay Park shall not be closer than 75 yards to the high tide line...” The existing lease line appears to be already below this minimum at around 50 yards. A Master Plan Amendment at the very least should be undertaken to resolve these apparent conflicts with current City Policy. Of great concern to us, the People of San Diego, is the process thus far in reviewing this proposal has ignored Council Policy 600-33, dated January 28, 2016. The BACKGROUND states: “The purpose of the Recreation Element of the City’s General Plan is to “preserve, protect, acquire, develop, operate, maintain, and enhance public recreation opportunities and facilities throughout the City for all users. … These Projects may include design and construction of new park areas and amenities as well as expansion to and replacement of amenities at existing park areas.” And in Bulletin Definitions: D. Public Workshop: A gathering of members of the public, usually at a noticed Recreation Council meeting, to discuss the Project. Workshops must be placed on the Recreation Council’s agenda and comply with the Ralph M. Brown Act for open meetings. I’m sure none of the council members want to be in violation of their own policies. We have had no public workshops. We only caught wind of the first meeting on Jan. 2, 2018 by accident. And when we did hear, over 150 people showed up to oppose the plan. Meanwhile we are aware that Bill Evans, his executive committee and other employees have donated $1,000s to city councilmembers, especially Lori Zapf, over recent years. She even held fundraisers on his boat, so we hope she does the right thing and recuses herself from comment and from voting in this matter. We know he gave generously to Jerry Sanders, who secured the  initial lease for Evans, in a hurry, while councils were in transition, with no public input or city staff review. It’s all about money. The applicant has promised the city $5 million annually in tax revenue from his proposed 300 new rooms. Those must be pricey rooms!!! Park and Recreation Board members swooned when he mentioned $5 million in new revenue to the city. Again, “Thank you Bill for this new revenue, it will be so welcome across San Diego…” Then other board members told us it would be good for us to take the trolley down (never mind the trolley doesn’t go anywhere near Bahia Point or the beach, and how owe might carry a kayak or canoe on the trolley.). Another board member told us carrying our boats from father away would be good for us. More disrespect. How is it that the Bahia Resort is not required to supply parking for employees and guests within its lease footprint? Why are they permitted to use public parking spaces? When he builds a convention center, as he has proposed (and hasn’t mentioned in his presentations), how is the area to deal with increased traffic and need for yet more parking? Unless his guests all take über from the airport, this will heavily impact the area. We need an updated traffic flow study. Instead of taking over public parkland, removing green space and putting in concrete for parking, let him build within his existing footprint, forget the extra swimming pool and build a parking garage for his employees and guests. In the Mission Bay Master Plan, it specifically references access to the water. SHORE ACCESS As a water-oriented recreation area, the Park's shore should remain accessible for public use throughout its length. Public access to the shore should be secure and safe, providing sufficient visibility from adjoining facilities and allowing access by patrol and emergency vehicles. In addition, such access should be sufficiently wide to permit the Park’s landscape to flow through it, maintaining its continuity along the shore. Page 47, the Figure 12 map showing Bahia Point is annotated “Retain Gleason Road.” On page 69, section 45, the Master Plan states “The Park should contain a variety of beach launching sites for board sailors, kayakers, canoeists, and rowers. To this end, existing beach launching sites should be maintained…” In the Water Use section of the Mission Bay Park Master Plan Update; pp 61-62: “Nevertheless, over the past few decades, the Bay’s ability to meet the demands of all water users has increasingly been compromised by a growing population, the increasing diversity of water recreation activities and a deteriorating water quality. To ensure the viable use of the Bay waters, specific management an physical measures should be taken. As a goal… … Mission Bay Park’s water areas should be allocated and maintained to support the diverse aquatic interests of those visiting Mission Bay, ensuring adequate access to, and the safety and enjoyment of, the Park’s aquatic resources. In the interest of sustaining a desired level of recreation, the Park water shall be so used as to preserve an appropriate level of biological quality, benefitting both human activities and the interests of wildlife.” In the same publication, Water Use; p. 69: “45. Beach Launching: the Park should contain a variety of beach launching sites for board sailors, kayakers, canoeists and rowers. Board sailors in particular would benefit from a diversity of sites in order to capitalize on changing wind conditions. To this end, existing beach launching sites should be maintained, except where in conflict with proposed habitat enhancement areas…” The applicant suggests we launch through the swim zone. Clearly he has no idea of water safety. He suggests we “drop off” our boats, then go park elsewhere. Would you drop a $3,000 boat on the grass or sand and leave it there while you look for parking? And then do the same again when you are leaving? Please don’t be swayed by this greedy land grab of public park and recreation areas on Bahia Point, Ventura Cove and Bonita Cove! Don’t let him purchase your vote. I know your record of standing up for those with no voice against corporate oppression. I’m asking your help in our fight to preserve access to Mission Bay’s shoreline for those of us with human-powered watercraft. We can’t launch off a dock, we are tossed around in the back bay where boat speeds are high to accommodate jet skis and waterskiers. Bahia Point is all we have!

Below are pics from the recent protest.

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