The Council joined four other previous governmental bodies in selecting dog friendlier Option B over Option A, which was espoused by the non-motorized boating community including kayakers and paddlers. Only the City Planning Commission chose Option A over Option B.
Both options were proposed as an amendment to the Mission Bay Park Master Plan to update the land uses and vision for manmade, 470-acre, multi-use Fiesta Island.
Option A would have divided the island with a road, which would have reduced access for off-leash dog users, in favor of providing storage and beach access for personal watercraft. Option B keeps the island intact and undivided, while increasing the fenced, off-leash area, which would have been bisected by a road if Option A had been chosen.
City staffer Sarah Osborn told Council members both options being considered were meant to “preserve natural resources and improve both water access and road circulation.” She added both options also “formalized much of existing uses on the island.”
Public testimony at the Council hearing was stacked heavily in favor of Option B advocated by the Fiesta Island Dog Owners group. Only two people testified in favor of non-motorized more boat-friendly Option A.
Kathy Archibald of San Diego Outrigger Canoe Club noted members of the non-motorized boating community who “come in all shapes and sizes and from every demographic just want a place to get to the water.”
Kathy Parrish of FIDO countered that Option B would benefit more island users.
“Tens of thousands of people use this space free at Fiesta Island 365 days a year from dawn to dusk, rain or shine,” she said. “We don’t need more roads and fences. Don’t pave over paradise.”
FIDO president Carolyn Chase read letters for Option B supporters from every City Council district. “This is the most affordable and sustainable plan for most users and most uses,” Chase concluded.
Following public testimony, District 2 Councilmember Dr. Jennifer Campbell noted both options improved Fiesta Island, “especially the path and the bicycle area around the island making them safer. I’m a strong supporter of keeping Fiesta in its most natural form. I’d like to move certification of the environmental impact report, and amending the Mission Bay Master Plan to include Option B.”
District 7 Councilmember Scott Sherman reiterated his stance that a non-motorized boat launch and area for personal watercraft would be a better fit at the existing South Shores Boat Launch, which he described as “incredibly underutilized.”
District 8 Councilmember Vivian Moreno credited both sides for being passionate, producing photos of dogs that people favoring Option B had emailed her.
“I’m the mother of one dog and I take her there to run on the sand and play in the surf and I understand why so many people go there,” she said. “I don’t see the need to destroy the experience of thousands of dogs and their families, and that’s why I’m supporting this motion.”