Yesterday’s Decision Advances Misguided De Anza Revitalization Plans

  • City of San Diego presented two shortsighted draft plans that fail to address sea level rise in Mission Bay
  • Mission Bay Park Planning Committee imprudently voted to advance one of the alternatives to an environmental review process 
SAN DIEGO, December 6, 2017 — Last night, a divided Mission Bay Park Committee narrowly approved a plan for the redevelopment of De Anza Cove over objections from hundreds of community members. Representatives from San Diego Audubon joined Campland on the Bay, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California State Coastal Conservancy in opposing the two proposed alternative plans offered by the City of San Diego. The Park Committee took action to approve “alternative 2,” which forwards the plans to a formal environmental review process with the City.
“Unfortunately, the two concepts presented by the City were driven by misguided priorities that ultimately fail to reach the goals of the Mission Bay Park Master Plan,” said Rebecca Schwartz Lesberg, conservation staff with San Diego Audubon. “It’s even more unfortunate that the Park Committee took action only after heavy lobbying from its chairman and misinformation by City staff.”
According to the City’s Mission Bay Park Master Plan, which serves as the guiding document for the City of San Diego’s De Anza Revitalization Plan, planning for this area must include wetlands restoration and improvements aimed at protecting those marsh areas. Schwartz Lesberg says the alternative selected does very little to correct the bay-wide imbalance that has for decades favored commerce and recreation at the expense of the environment.
She says to adequately protect wetlands in Mission Bay, the City would need to dedicate at least 200 acres of this planning area — less than five percent of Mission Bay — to habitat. The plan currently only has around 30 – 40 acres set aside for wetlands, increasing the less than two percent of wetlands in the bay to less than three percent.
“It’s disappointing to watch the City push concepts that are not resilient to sea level rise,” said Schwartz. “They are ignoring the inevitable. These concepts place the burden of responding to climate change on future generations and miss the opportunity to prepare our region for shrinking coastlines.”
Early in last night’s meeting, the Park Committee requested detailed modeling and cost estimates to guide its decision on the two alternative plans. Rather than pause the process to provide the necessary information for decision making, City staff led the committee to believe that the only way to learn more about the potential impacts of the plan was to approve one last night.
That is not the case, says Schwartz Lesberg. She is leading San Diego Audubon’s simultaneous and complementary feasibility study called ReWild Mission Bay, a nearly half-million dollar analysis of the costs and benefits of various restoration plans, which is funded by state and federal governments. This study, due to be released in early 2018, includes the kinds of hydrological modeling, engineering details, and cost estimates the Park Committee requested last night.
“We’re thankful that Park Committee Member Cynthia Hedgecock and several others repeatedly asked to slow the voting process to allow for necessary input from the ReWild Mission Bay assessment,” says Chris Redfern, Executive Director of San Diego Audubon. “We were stunned to see two people unravel that progress. There is no reason the Park Committee needed to take action last night in a vacuum of information.”
Hedgecock was joined in her request to slow the process by several committee members who voted to delay a decision by just two months, pending finalization of the ReWild study. That vote failed when the Park Committee’s chair voted, creating a 4-4 tie that killed the motion. Following the tied vote, and after additional lobbying by the Park Committee chair and City staff, the committee ultimately approved one of the two alternatives.
For more information about ReWild Mission Bay, please visit To learn more about the San Diego Audubon Society, please click here.
San Diego Audubon Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the protection and appreciation of birds, other wildlife and their habitats. Education, environmental recreation and conservation programs make San Diego Audubon a significant resource for the natural world in San Diego.