Paddlers to protest against Bahia Resort’s expansion proposal
Published - 03/08/18 - 11:45 AM | 1333 views | 6 6 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bahia Point on Mission Bay.
Bahia Point on Mission Bay.
Mission Bay water enthusiasts are lobbying against Bahia Resort expansion plans on Bahia Point, which some claim threatens both public parking and beach access.

Concerned residents announced they will hold a “Bahia Point Paddle and Appreciation Day” starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 10 at Bahia Point.

“Bahia Hotel is proposing an expansion that will eliminate access and parking on Gleason Road and severely limit water and beach access to Bahia Point Park,” said opposition spokesman Greg Knight. “This expansion has been pushed through the city process without any true public input.”

Responding to paddlers’ comments, Bill Evans, owner of the Bahia and Catamaran hotels on Mission Bay, replied: “We are excited about the prospect of increasing public access and public amenities as part of our renovation and expansion of the Bahia Resort Hotel. In particular, we will be creating a bike and pedestrian pathway around the entirety of Bahia Point, adding lawn and picnic areas, as well as bocce ball courts.”

Knight said the opposition to the hotel’s plan includes a myriad of water users — kayakers, windsurfers, outriggers, canoeists, stand up paddleboarders, sailboats, kayak fishermen, campers and picnickers.

“They, and more, are unhappy about having this public access taken away,” Knight said exhorting people to “come together March 10 to protest and let the city know that this land will not be taken without our voices heard.”

Evans said he continues to be open-minded about public reaction to the hotel expansion plan.

“Although we strongly believe the project will continue to allow access to a wide variety of recreational users, we are sensitive to, and mindful of, the concerns of some groups,” Evans said. “The best way forward is for all interests to continue constructive dialogue, and Evans Hotels is committed to that.”

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 peninsula to other locations inland further from the shoreline.

Opponents claim the hotel expansion would deny public access to Bahia Point, a popular launching spot for small sailboats, kayaks and other watercraft. They argue proposed replacement parking further away from the shoreline would not only be an inconvenience, but a hardship, for boat owners.

Gary Cannon, a retired coastal planner and recreational paddler, cautioned that eliminating all parking along Gleason Road would be counterproductive. “[Officials] also have a mission to balance that with the needs of visitors,” Cannon said. “If you’re going to make changes at the hotel site, you need to protect the existing users.”

Cannon contends closure of Gleason Road, and the elimination of coastal access there “is an attempt to privatize the entire Bahia Point, and to minimize the public’s ability to recreate there.”

Of the proposed bike-pedestrian path, Cannon said, “The bike path is being used as a trade-off to eliminate public use of the area by eliminating the parking.”

“Bahia Point is highly used, and has become more highly used over the years,” said Cannon. “The critical thing for us is it’s a public park.” It’s also an aquatic park. This is about eliminating about a quarter-mile of beachfront on the bay preventing easy — and safe — access into the water.”

Referring to Bahia Point as “a very small area of land,” Evans reiterated his view that eliminating public parking along Gleason Road “is part of the overall Mission Bay master plan.” He added, “The master plan specifically calls for removal of all waterfront parking in Mission Bay Park — you can’t build anymore in the future, and you have to remove all parking spaces [on the fringe] of Bahia Point.”

Evans said plans to extend the bike path and walkway through Bahia Point would “put the walkway on top of the existing hotel building. So we’re going to move the hotel eastward.”

San Diego Park and Recreation Board’s Mission Bay Park Committee voted near-unanimously on Jan. 2 to affirm Evans Hotels’ proposed expansion and parking changes on its existing site at 998 W. Mission Bay Drive. 

Previously, Evans noted expansion plans at Bahia call for moving, not eliminating public parking. “Parking will be put in approximately three, 100-space parking lots replacing the 270 spaces on Gleason Road with 273 spaces,” he said. “The Mission Bay master plan calls for removal of waterfront parking, and having concentrated areas of parking off Gleason Road put in.”

Evans anticipates his plans to expand Bahia Hotel while moving, not eliminating parking, will be heard and decided upon by the City Council sometime this summer.

Bahia Point protest

What: Bahia Point Paddle

and Appreciation Day.

When: Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday,

March 10 at Bahia Point.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Mary Lynn Hyde
March 14, 2018
Remember our mantra: parking is access!
M Kirshner
March 12, 2018
The proposed hotel expansion vastly reduces access to the water for anyone bringing small watercraft, fishing equipment, or family picnics. How many people can carry those items on a bike or bus? People will be able to bike through Bahia Point, but that's about it. The hotel can be expanded without causing these severe impacts. It's just an effort to discourage public use. The people who own the park (you and me) are getting shafted.

Peggy Peattie
March 12, 2018
Evans has never been "open-minded" about opposition to his expansion. And why does he need TWO swimming pool at his resort when it's surrounded by the Bay, across the street from the OCEAN? Why aren't we talking about his expansion plans? What are the details? Committee meetings have never asked such questions. They just rubber stamp his proposals because they are all hand-picked by his friend Kevin Faulconer.

And why all this fuss about a tiny stretch of bike path? Bikes have access to 100% of the bay. Paddlers only have less than 20% of the water park that is Mission Bay.
March 12, 2018
There are so many downsides to this plan, and it should be pointed out that it was attempted before in the 90s.

The current plan would essentially create a semi-private beach for hotel guests, much like you can see at Paradise Point and the Catamaran. No citizens can be expected to carry their popup, coolers, food, and bonfire wood to the end of the point from the proposed lots, which shift 2/3s of the new spots 'away' from the hotel property. And does so in what is currently grass and tree covered areas of the bay over by Ventura Cove and across MB Drive at Bonita Cove. Popular for picnics and would now be pavement.

Also, if anyone thinks this is a "inconvenience issue" for paddlers, kayak fisherman, sunfish sailboat racers and windsurfers, (as if this is a lazy group of individuals who is whining about having to carry paddleboards a few extra feet), I would like to point out that personal watercraft can be up to 30ft long, and weigh up to 100 pounds, not to mention having lots of various components to them that would require multiple trips. There is no other spot on the bay that offers the quality of water, slow boat speed, and access as Bahia Point and Gleason Road.

As far as The Mission Bay Plan, it SPECIFICALLY calls for small personal watercraft access to be provided on the point. That is strangely not mentioned.

"Page 46: Access needs for small water craft users and the use of traditional picnic areas along the eastern shoreline shall be preserved as part of the specific redevelopment plan."

And finally, it is very bike friendly currently. And if that was such a concern, the hotel would not have planted spiky cactus plants blocking public access to the west side of the peninsula.

Learn more at
Leslie Bruce
March 12, 2018
I am horrified that Bill Evans is seeking to eliminate access by paddlers and small craft boaters to the water from the public park adjacent to the Bahia. While our boats are easy to paddle, they are hard to carry and parking proximity to the water is critical. My paddle partners are 60 and this access enables us to continue the sport to which we've dedicated ourselves for decades. I will no longer recommend the Bahia to out of town guests and paddlers!
Mary Lynn Hyde
March 12, 2018
I disagree with Bill Evans interpretation. The Mission Bay Master Plan says a lot of things, idealistic things. Many of which have not come to fruition, and may never come to fruition. Why now? and why this spot?

Elimination of waterfront parking is a new MBMP goal to me and would appreciate the page reference so I can read it for myself in the MBMP.

I do not believe that the MBMP goal was to eliminate small craft boaters & paddlers from one of the only launch spots in an aquatic park Eliminating waterfront parking at Bahia Point will do. Relocating parking is not an viable option.

Nor do I believe that the public will benefit from an extended bike path at this location or the addition of bocce ball courts. Both are landbased activities and don't belong in an aquatic park.