Karin Zirk, spokeswoman for Friends of Rose Creek, said the preservation of Rose Creek for park usage is key to ensuring that one of the few remaining coastal wetlands in Southern California is not lost to development or paved over for freeway expansion.
“Funding agencies wanting to enhance coastal wetlands and provide recreational opportunities are more likely to invest in lands guaranteed to be around for future generations,” Zirk said. “Dedicating this section of the creek [from the southern end of Marian Bear Natural Park to Mission Bay Park] will provide San Diego residents and visitors a contiguous park that stretches from University City High School to Mission Bay High School and provides educational and recreational hands-on opportunities for children.”
Faulconer noted the importance that a healthy Rose Creek plays in the vivacity of the entire watershed and Mission Bay Park, saying he is committed to working with various city departments to clearly identify the specific parcels that constitute Rose Creek and move forward with dedication in the next several months.
“One of my overriding goals is to ensure that we dedicate these parcels, and I will ensure that we move forward collectively with my colleagues because it is in the public’s best interest to dedicate that,” said Faulconer during a Dec. 17 City Council meeting. “There are some questions that we have about some of the lines, where they fall and who [owns] that, but this is a problem that is entirely solvable.”
When the City Council approved the dedication of more than 6,500 acres of canyonlands and open spaces through the adoption of the “Declaration of Dedication of Land” on Nov. 27, portions of the Rose Creek watershed were not cleared for dedication by city departments because of questions about ownership and the potential for alternative uses for the sites.
Upon further evaluation, staff from the Park and Recreation Department and the City Attorney’s Office ex-plained to City Council members on Dec. 17 that not all of Rose Creek is within defined assessor parcel numbers and have legal descriptions. Certain portions of the watershed within Caltrans and railroad rights of way may conflict with stormwater and transportation maintenance programs in the area, and other portions of the property are simply not owned by the city, according to the city attorney’s report.
“I understand that protecting Rose Creek is a complex undertaking with a host of logistical and legal issues,” said Zirk during the meeting. “While I may not leave here today with exactly what I was hoping for, I hope we can carry this effort into 2013 and beyond.”
Faulconer emphasized the importance of proactive communication among community groups and stakeholders to bring this issue of dedication back to the City Council in the coming months.
“I do want this to come back to the City Council, probably through the Natural Resources and Culture Committee, and that the city actually survey those properties,” Faulconer said. “I’m confident we can do that and I will push for that to make sure that we have all those questions ans-wered.”
San Diego Canyonlands, the nonprofit organization that spearheaded the mapping, planning and public vetting for the Rose Creek preservation movement, initially proposed the dedication of nearly 10,000 acres of city-owned open space as protected parkland. Due to inconsistencies between the Canyonlands’ proposal and the city’s policies, the City Council dedicated 6,550 acres of the proposed land as dedicated open space on Nov. 27 and vowed to re-address the issue of dedication for other city-owned parcels, like portions of the Rose Creek Watershed, which was initially acquired by the city for flood-control purposes.
According to San Diego Canyonlands, the purpose of dedication is to provide reliable, open-space preservation and recreational opportunities within communities, providing a framework for future planning as the city grows.