An End-Run Around the Public Planning Process

By Chris Redfern

From remarks before the Land Use and Housing Committee meeting on June 12, 2019.

On behalf of my organization and the ReWild Mission Bay coalition, we urge you to NOT approve these lease agreements, and instead slow this process down and provide the community and stakeholders the opportunity to participate in decisions that will have long-range implications for land use in the northeast corner of Mission Bay.

Since early March, when the company managing the Mission Bay RV Park notified the City of their intent to withdraw from their month-to-month management agreement, City staff have met with the owners of Campland to negotiate a settlement agreement behind closed doors that includes approval of the lease agreements before you today.

The confidential nature of these negotiations have effectively silenced public participation in a very important land use decision for Mission Bay.

By allowing lease agreements to be bound up within a confidential settlement agreement, the City has been complicit in an end-run around the public planning process, and has disenfranchised valued stakeholders and the public at large.

San Diego Audubon, in particular, with the blessing of City leadership, has assisted the City with wetlands restoration planning for this area via grant awards of more than half a million dollars in state and federal funds. The outcome of this five-year public process, called ReWild Mission Bay, is now under threat, since now – in the short span of 90 days – the City has negotiated expanded RV use within the restoration planning area which would curtail wetland restoration options.

The environmental community has been accused of being rigid and uncompromising. We have been asked of late, what changes to these lease agreements could be made to accommodate us?

Our answer is this: Don’t approve these leases, slow down, and treat us fairly and equally with other stakeholders, and who knows what compromises we may be able to reach? At this juncture, we simply don’t know. We haven’t been invited to the table.

Chris Redfern is the executive director of San Diego Audubon.