The City Council voted 6-3 June 24 to allow Campland to do asbestos clean-up and existing mobile home removal within 24 months at the now-abandoned De Anza mobile home park. Under its agreement with Audubon Society, Campland will now place new campsites only in the northeastern corner of their De Anza Cove leasehold boundary.
Campland's plans call for adding 150 more RV campsites to the existing 260 while re-opening the scenic coastal bike and pedestrian path around De Anza peninsula as part of its five-year lease extension with the city.
“This agreement we reached in early October says Campland won’t put those 150 new RV spaces along the bank of Rose Creek, nor along the boot of De Anza,” said Andrew Meyer, Audubon Society’s director of conservation.
"We applaud Campland and the city for agreeing to site all-new RV infrastructure as far from the site of projected sea-level rise and future wetlands as possible. We think this is a win-win for the environment, and a win-win for future users of Mission Bay,” Meyer said.
During a recent tour of De Anza mobile home park, vacant since 2015, Jacob Gelfand, Campland’s vice president of operations, discussed the advantages of the lease extension with the city.
“If not for a partnership between a lessee and the city, [the mobile home park] just would continue to deteriorate and become a magnet for crime and other issues,” Gelfand said. “It’s unfortunate that the narrative that has emerged suggests there’s some sort of conflict between the needs of campers and the environmental community.
“For us as a lessee and a business, our business depends on having good water quality, a beautiful environment, and preserving a relationship between campers and wildlife.
“Campland has played an intimate role in protecting and helping to clean up the existing marsh providing equipment and staff and volunteer campers to help the clean-up efforts every year,” added Gelfand. “We’ve done everything we can to support all the different environmental organizations who work to protect the natural resources of the bay.”
Noted Gelfand: “Hundreds of thousands of San Diegans, about 50% of our business, and guests from all over the country use Campland as a staycation destination. It is the most affordable way for them to access Mission Bay, the largest aquatic park in the country.”
Gelfand pointed out Campland accommodations start at $65 a night, contrasted with high-end hotel rates, which can exceed $300 per day.
During the city’s June hearing on Campland, environmentalists argued the company’s new short-term lease will further delay the long-awaited wetlands restoration for Rose Creek and the Kendall-Frost Marsh. Only about 5% of wetlands remain of Mission Bay’s original 4,000 acres.
Tommy Hough, Audubon Society campaign coordinator, said the nonprofit wildlife group will keep a watchful on Campland’s clean-up and abatement efforts.
“The June deal between Campland and the city postpones implementation of the ‘wildest’ wetland restoration plan in northeast Mission Bay for up to eight years, undercuts the public planning process already underway, and SDAS remains concerned about lapses in California Environmental Quality Act steps taken by the city,” Hough said. “Audubon will not challenge the project's Coastal Development Permit (CDP) on the basis of new RV spaces, but remains free to oppose and challenge the CDP on any other grounds.”
Once regulatory permitting is secured, which likely won’t happen until 2020, Gelfand said Campland will then begin cleaning and removing the abandoned, asbestos-filled homes, repairing the waterfront bike and pedestrian paths around the De Anza peninsula, and repurposing existing infrastructure to expand affordable coastal access, as the City finalizes its Mission Bay Park Master Plan update for De Anza.
For more information on Campland on the Bay, visit campland.com or FriendsofCampland.org.