Hotelier Bill Evans said parking changes being proposed as part of Bahia’s redevelopment will reconfigure — not eliminate — existing onsite parking.
San Diego Park and Recreation Board’s Mission Bay Park Committee voted near-unanimously Jan. 2 to affirm Evans Hotels’ proposed expansion and parking changes on its existing site at 998 W. Mission Bay Drive. The board concurred with the hotelier’s view that that action would be consistent with the Mission Bay Park Master Plan.
“Parking will be put in approximately three, 100-space parking lots replacing the 270 spaces on Gleason Road with 273 spaces,” Evans said. “The Mission Bay Master Plan, which guides development in the park, calls for removal of waterfront parking, and having concentrated areas of parking off Gleason Road put in.”
The Jan. 2 park board meeting drew a crowd of about 200 water users of every type. Users argued the hotel’s expansion was a commercial land grab inconsistent with the park master plan which ignores the needs of countless aquatic recreationalists.
Bahia resort wants to nearly double its capacity expanding from 315 rooms to 600 rooms, while adding a 10-foot walkway and 20-foot grass area around Bahia Point park. That would necessitate shifting current public parking along Gleason Road on the Bahia’s peninsula to other locations further from the shoreline.
Opponents claimed the hotel expansion would deny public access to Bahia Point, a popular launching spot for small sailboats, kayaks and other watercraft. They argued proposed replacement parking further away from the shoreline would be a hardship on, and inconvenience for, boat owners.
Those contemplated moves upset neighbors and bay users alike, three of whom — Greg Knight, Mike Waters and Scott Andrews — representing boating enthusiasts, met with Beach & Bay Press to explain their displeasure with the hotel’s plans.
“When the parks committee voted yes, it literally was like a sucker punch to the stomach,” said Mission Beach resident Knight, a kayaker. “I think they were a little surprised to see how many people showed up in opposition.”
“I’m a sailor and a very large amount of the shoreline is rip-rap (rocks), which you can’t carry your boat across without at least risking a nasty fall,” said Waters, a sailboat owner.
“[Evans] has purposely blocked both ends of the cove so you cannot access it,” claimed Andrews. “He sees [Bahia Point Park] as his domain. Now he’s making the power play to get it all.”
“We want parking and traffic studies done,” added Andrews.
Evans said he has offered to put parking in on the existing Bahia Hotel site to accommodate boating users’ needs, adding he, and his hotel’s role are being misrepresented.
“I’m being depicted as a bad guy by people who haven’t read the park master plan, and that these changes have been generated by me and the hotel as part of some land grab,” Evans said. “Really, all of the proposed changes are in the park master plan document that was ratified by both the City Council and Coastal Commission (in the ’90s). Those are now legal documents guiding development in Mission Bay Park.”
Andrews insists the Mission Bay Master plan is dated, arguing it is an advisory document and “not the law.”
In response to the hotel’s recently announced expansion plans, Knight started a Facebook page to rally against the hotel’s expansion as proposed.
“We got 500 positive responses within two days of setting up the Facebook page,” said Nelson, noting there are literally tens of thousands of local and visiting boating enthusiasts who are supportive of the opposition.