City seeks public comment on Fiesta Island dog park plans
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 05/18/17 - 02:33 PM | 4834 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dogs have fun on the beach at Fiesta Island dog park.
Dogs have fun on the beach at Fiesta Island dog park.
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The city is kickstarting its long-delayed public process for planning the future of Fiesta Island, which makes Fiesta Island dog owners happy. But only if the city ultimately adopts “Option B,” which, quite literally, is a line to be drawn in the sand – or not.

The City defined two options in its recent public notice on resuming the Fiesta Island planning process. "Option A" would divide the area with a road and reduce access for off-leash users. "Option B" would keep the area intact and increase the fenced, off-leash area. 

“Option B keeps the fenced-in dog park intact, increasing its size,” said FIDO president Carolyn Chase. “Option A, which was what was leftover when the city (planning) process fell out in 2011-12, puts a road down the dog area, while Option B keeps the dog area intact.”

FIDO is a community-based nonprofit with more than 14,000 members dedicated to preserving Fiesta Island's leash-free recreation area. The organization was created in 2006 as a response to a massive development plan unveiled then, which originally proposed removing or moving the leash-free area.

Chase said the process to re-conceptualize Fiesta Island including its fenced-off, off-leash dog area dates back to 2006. 

Why did it fail initially?

“It was a combination of an unfair process – and it ran out of money twice because the consulting firm involved was not in a position to resolve the conflicts coming up,” Chase said. “FIDO made every effort to try and resolve the conflicts. The conflicting interests fought to a stalemate.”

Chase pointed out the “politics” of the situation changing over time also had a hand in Fiesta Island's planning process ending the first time around.

“It became a matter of getting the resources in the planning department to actually do the process,” she said.

A public meeting on Fiesta Island long-range planning is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 23 at Mission Bay High School, 2475 Grand Ave. The city is also soliciting public comments in writing for the future planning of Fiesta Island due by June 8. Comments should be emailed to PlanningCEQA@sandiego.gov. Those commenting must put “Mission Bay Park Master Plan Update – Fiesta Island Amendment” in the subject line.

From the City’s public notice: "The intent of the options is to develop a plan that respects long-term existing uses on the island, reduces environmental impacts, reduces the acreage of developed parkland thereby reducing water use, and is economically feasible to implement.”

On its website, FIDO maintains that “the environmental impact report should conclude that Option B fulfills this better than Option A. We will be submitting comments asking that the City analyze the options against this stated intent in addition to requesting that other technical analysis take place.”

FIDO suggests these ideas to consider on Fiesta Island planning: 

• How often have you used Fiesta island off-leash area? 

• Is your access to the Mission Bay shoreline important? 

• Is the size important? 

• Is getting rid of and managing the foxtails important? 

• Do you want it to stay intact for your exercise and recreation and not divided by a road, fences, or an amphitheater?

“The time for your public comment is now,” concludes FIDO.

When significant changes are proposed to public lands, the California Environmental Quality Act allows for public input on what should be considered when analyzing the impacts of proposed projects. That input is then considered in the preparation of the resulting environmental impact report that will be presented to the City Council. In addition, Mission Bay Park is in the California Coastal Zone, so the process will ultimately be reviewed at the California Coastal Commission. 

A manmade island in Mission Bay, Fiesta offers off-leash areas for dogs to run and play on the sand and in the water and picnic and bonfire facilities, and is a haunt for recreationalists of all types. The island is also home to various water sports and features 27 miles of beach.

About a year ago, Fiesta Island was nominated by the pet-friendly travel website BringFido.com, beating out nine other dog parks from around the country to receive the Reader's Choice Award for “Best Dog Park in America.”

Dog park meeting

What: Fiesta Island long-range planning meeting.

Where: 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23.

Where: Mission Bay High School, 2475 Grand Ave.
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