FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2023
SAN DIEGO – While recreation users and environmental advocates have been portrayed as being in conflict over the future of Mission Bay restoration, recreation and environmental advocates are in broad agreement on each other’s concerns and goals, and seek to facilitate mandates set out by the City of San Diego in its 1994 Mission Bay Park Master Plan.
That understanding is demonstrated, in part, by new language included within the City’s revised draft wetland restoration plan and agreed upon by ReWild Mission Bay, the Mission Bay Youth Field Association and Pacific Beach Tennis Club. The new language addresses the implementation of proposed “buffer” areas along Rose Creek, which were not part of the original ReWild Mission Bay plan, but included by the City as part of its De Anza Natural wetland restoration proposal in March.
“If environmental funding is found and the wetlands restoration project is commenced,” said ReWild Mission Bay project director Andrew Meyer and chairman Billy Bonelli of the Mission Bay Youth Field Association, “the Rose Creek buffer zone from Mike Gotch Memorial Bridge to Garnet Avenue will not be disrupted until replacement youth fields and tennis courts equal to or better than the affected facilities are constructed in their new permanent location within the De Anza Natural planning area.”
Rose Creek buffer areas will improve water quality, and protect habitat and park assets from storm surges and sea level rise. Biannual King Tides often demonstrate in real time the extent to which daily high tides can be expected along the lower Rose Creek corridor as sea levels increase.
Made up of the Pacific Youth Soccer League, Coastal Bay Softball and Mission Bay Youth Baseball, the Mission Bay Youth Field Association facilitates year-round youth sports at the Bob McEvoy Fields in Pacific Beach.
“Among our three-member organizations there are over 1,000 kids playing soccer, softball and baseball every six-month season at Bob McEvoy Fields,” said Bonelli. “If the City is going to add buffer zones along Rose Creek, affected athletic facilities must be relocated by the City to a new, permanent location prior to the installation of the buffers. Court and ballfield recreation interests would not, and ReWild Mission Bay believes they must not, lose their space within the Mission Bay Park footprint.”
The Pacific Beach Tennis Club has also come on board with the agreement. “Continuity of the existence of the racquet sports facility at its current or larger size is critical. With its 500 tennis members and hundreds more pickleball players, the P.B. Tennis Club has been located in De Anza Cove for over 60 years, and must also continue to have a home within the De Anza Natural planning area,” said P.B. Tennis Club board member-at-large Joanna Hirst. “The Tennis Club, ReWild and McEvoy Fields join in seeking improved water quality and restored natural habitat as outlined in the City’s and ReWild’s plans.”
According to Andrew Meyer, who also serves as conservation director with San Diego Audubon, “The ReWild Coalition has shown why we all need restored habitats in the northeast corner of our bay, but there’s space for neighborhood and coastal-related land uses to go right alongside this protective and accessible habitat. Multi-use soccer, softball and baseball fields, and racquet sports should stay in our park, and there’s space for it. We’re happy to say that’s clear with the Mission Bay Youth Field Association and P.B. Tennis Club.”
The Mission Bay Park Committee is expected to consider a recommendation on the city’s De Anza Natural Plan on July 11th, following several weeks of weekly meetings of the De Anza ad hoc Committee. San Diego City Council is expected to consider approval of the De Anza Natural Plan this fall, but it has not yet been docketed at council or at the city’s Environment Committee.
As indicated by the City of San Diego in its De Anza Natural proposal, “The City will work with community-serving public recreation facility operators to plan for the future of the facilities and will design and phase development in a manner that minimizes disruption to active recreation access. Buffer zones and other land uses proposed for the site of existing recreation facilities should be implemented after these facilities have been modified, moved, or replaced for continued use.”
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ReWild Mission Bay is a project of the San Diego Audubon Society and our coalition partners to enhance and restore wetlands in the northeast corner of Mission Bay, thereby creating new opportunities for wildlife to thrive, and for San Diegans to enjoy nature in our collective backyard. The surviving wetlands of Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve sit on the unceded territory of the Kumeyaay, who maintain their political sovereignty and cultural traditions. We acknowledge their contributions to our region and thank them for their stewardship – past, present and future.