De Anza Cove plans in Mission Bay met with skepticism from San Diego Audubon
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 07/12/17 - 01:57 PM | 2930 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
San Diego Audubon, spearheading a wetlands reclamation effort in the city’s ongoing De Anza Revitalization Plan, credited the city for backing habitat restoration — but claims it isn't enough.

“The City of San Diego’s De Anza Cove plans are driven by misguided priorities and therefore have a shortsighted approach to protecting Mission Bay,” said San Diego Audubon director of conservation and ad-hoc committee vice chair Rebecca Schwartz Lesberg. “Both of the De Anza Revitalization plans reconnect Kendall-Frost Marsh with Rose Creek, which will help the remaining 40 acres of wetlands survive. What is missing from both alternatives is the long-term view to ensure wetlands can continue to create cleaner water, buffer communities from sea-level rise, provide habitat for wildlife, and get people out in nature. If they (wetlands) disappear — so do those services.”

The conservation group's comments followed a June 29 city-sponsored workshop at Mission Bay High School. That was the first public meeting since November 2016, when the city unveiled three draft alternative restoration plans for De Anza Cove. 

ReWild Mission Bay is a project of San Diego Audubon to enhance and restore up to 170 acres of wetlands in the northeast corner of Mission Bay.

Wetlands including marshes, mud flats and riverbanks, which play an important role in San Diego’s quality of life, attracting wildlife, fostering a diverse ecosystem, improving water quality and protecting communities from flooding by providing a cushion during high tides. 

Today, only about 1 percent of the historic 4,500 acres of Mission Bay wetlands remain, making ReWild Mission Bay a critical and time-sensitive project for the area.

ReWild co-exists with the city of San Diego’s De Anza Revitalization Plan, which seeks to re-imagine, repurpose and revitalize De Anza and the surrounding area. The three-year De Anza program is developing conceptual revitalization plan alternatives that result in a preferred plan, an amendment to the Mission Bay Park Master Plan and an environmental impact report. The goal is to create an iconic recreation destination that balances recreation, environment and commerce.

Discussing De Anza Revitalization Plan Ad-hoc Committee's review of two alternative plans for De Anza Cove June 29, San Diego Audubon and residents gave feedback.

“The plans have come a long way since they were first released last November by integrating more wildlife habitat and water quality improvements, but clearly will not protect the integrity of the bay in the long run,” said Lesberg Schwartz. 

Audubon noted that, “while the De Anza Revitalization project is vital to safeguard the area from the impacts of climate change including the survival of the endangered species that rely on Mission Bay’s remnant wetland areas, it does very little to correct the bay-wide imbalance that has, for decades, favored commerce and recreation at the expense of the environment.”

“Over the past few months, city planners have engaged with the ReWild Mission Bay project team and have made a good-faith effort to include and configure habitat in their planning area,” said San Diego Audubon’s executive director Chris Redfern. “However, the direction given to them by city leadership to include both 40 acres of guest housing, and retention of an 18-hole (Mission Bay) golf course in the planning area, have left little room to accommodate habitat. As a result, the plans ultimately fail to adequately safeguard the area from the impacts of climate change.”

Audubon is insisting that, to adequately protect wetlands in Mission Bay, the city would need to dedicate at least 200 acres of this planning area — less than five percent of Mission Bay — to habitat. 

Plans currently only have around 30 to 40 acres at De Anza, and about 60 acres at Campland, set aside for wetlands, increasing the less than 2 percent of wetlands in the bay to only less than 3 percent. 

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