Dissenting Council members were Council President Georgette Gomez of District 9, Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry of District 1 and Vivian Moreno of District 8.
Jacob Gelfand of Campland characterized the short-term lease as a win-win for all stakeholders. He has claimed it will not prejudice the City’s ongoing De Anza Revitalization Plan, which seeks to reimagine, repurpose and revitalize the northeast corner of Mission Bay Park.
Environmentalists criticized Gelfand’s plan’s financing, while arguing the new short-term lease will further delay the long-awaited wetlands restoration for Rose Creek and the Kendall-Frost Marsh. Only about 5 percent of wetlands remain of Mission Bay’s original 4,000 acres.
“This short-term proposal does not interfere with long-term plans for De Anza and would result in removal of hazardous materials and abandoned homes that poses a serious liability for the City,” said Gelfand. “Campland with its expertise can take over seamlessly in the short-term.”
Gelfand’s short-term plan includes: a five-year lease to take over camping at De Anza RV; a 24-month timeframe to do asbestos abatement and remove abandoned mobile homes; re-opening the scenic coastal bike and pedestrian path around De Anza peninsula; adding 150 more RV campsites to the existing 260, as well as a shuttle between De Anza and Campland; and extending Campland’s lease.
Environmentalists saw it differently. During lengthy testimony, one opponent labeled Campland’s lease proposal as “a nightmare addressed as a daydream.”
Another, John Heatherington, characterized Campland’s plan as “serving a privileged few and creating a private beach.”
“If you give anybody a lease, it should be a one-year lease,” argued Deborah Knight.
Denise Friedman of Pacific Beach decried Campland’s proposal as “subsidizing a private enterprise at the expense of the public.”
Chris Redfern of San Diego Audubon argued the lease proposal is not exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, and that action on it should be postponed until further environmental analysis is completed.
Council members weighed in on Gelfand’s plan.
“There’s two conversations here, a short-term and a long-term conversation,” said District 2 Councilmember Dr. Jennifer Campbell. “We must find a balance. The short-term lease will not prevent, or delay, the long-term conversion to marshland. The abandoned De Anza mobile home park is full of material that can contaminate the environment, and that must be removed by state law. Campland has generously offered to do that.”
Before casting her vote, Bry said, “I’m committed to a public process analyzing all the alternatives before we decide on long-term uses for this beautiful park.”
“I’m torn a little,” admitted Gomez, before voting against the Gelfand plan. “We’ve been kicking the can down the road for many years. This lease is doing that again.”