Environment Committee favors fido-friendly option for Fiesta Island
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 05/25/19 - 09:05 AM | 5415 views | 1 1 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Julia Gray runs with her dog Whiskers at Fiesta Island. / Photo by Kathy Miller Gray
Julia Gray runs with her dog Whiskers at Fiesta Island. / Photo by Kathy Miller Gray
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Dog owner’s tails were wagging as the San Diego City Council Environment Committee May 23 voted 4-0 for their preferred option in redeveloping Fiesta Island.

The issue will now go to the full City Council Monday, June 17 at 2 p.m. in council chambers. It will also have to pass muster with the California Coastal Commission.

Government agencies have gone back-and-forth on choosing between two alternatives: Option B favored by Fiesta Island Dog Owners, and Option A espoused by non-motorized boaters including kayakers and paddle boarders.

Option A would divide the manmade island with a road and reduce access for off-leash dog park users, while providing storage and beach access for personal watercraft. Option B would keep the island intact and undivided while increasing the fenced, off-leash area, which would be bisected by a road if Option A is ultimately selected.

Either option is proposed as an amendment to the Mission Bay Park Master Plan to update the land uses and vision for 470-acre, multi-use Fiesta Island.

City staffer Sarah Osborne told the council committee that either option would “amend and update the Mission Bay Park master plan with a new vision and conceptual plan.”

Emotions ran high on both sides during lengthy public testimony. Speaking for Option A, James Gonzalez said, “It’s about sharing, not someone winning or losing. The solution can be a win-win for all.”

Added Gonzalez, “There are 17 off-leash dog parks in San Diego. … We are dog owners too. The paddling community needs a permanent home.”

“The San Diego Audubon Society supports Option A,” testified Andrew Meyer.“

“Tens of thousands of people use this open space 365 days a year from dawn to dusk,” testified Kathy Parrish of FIDO for Option B. “We come from every demographic, every ethnicity and economic circumstance. Please don’t pave our paradise.”

“This is not an issue of taking versus sharing,” testified FIDO president Carolyn Chase arguing if Option A is chosen, “You’ll be turning seven acres of multi-use today over to exclusive use by one group forever.”

How many of you love Fiesta Island the way it is?,” asked another speaker.

“I’m in support of doing everything we can to keep Fiesta Island as natural as possible,” said committee chair Dr. Jen Campbell of District 2, who moved to approve dog lover’s Option B.

Committee member Councilman Scott Sherman, a dog owner, said he’s been going to Fiesta Island since he was a kid. “Being a boater and a paddler as well, I like to try and find a compromise,” Sherman said proposing an alternative for non-motorized boaters. “The nearby South Shores boat launch is both underutilized, and the best place to practice. This can be a win-win for everybody,” he said.

“I appreciate that we had two options and the passion and commitment on both sides,” said committee member Barbara Bry of District 1. “This is a most opportune time to preserve Fiesta Island as a magic place to San Diegans for generations to come.”

Pointing out her pooch, Luna, is frequently mentioned on her Facebook page, committee member Vivian Moreno of District 8 said, “I truly understand why so many dog owners use Fiesta Island.”

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