Those opposing perspectives clashed at Mission Bay Park Committee’s June 4 meeting at Santa Clara Recreation Center. It was a Campland “home crowd,” as the meeting was packed with residents in yellow shirts who were supporters of the year-round, 40-acre Mission Bay destination RV resort with 500-plus RV sites.
Once again, environmentalists were pitted against commercial interests vying for influence in the City’s ongoing De Anza Revitalization Plan. That plan seeks to reimagine, repurpose and revitalize the northeast corner of Mission Bay Park.
The 166-acre, bay front project area identified in the Mission Bay Park Master Plan includes De Anza Cove Park, Mission Bay Golf Course, the Mission Bay Athletic Fields, the Pacific Beach Tennis Club and the Boat and Ski Club.
Pierre Saladin, of the City’s Real Estate Assets Department, told MBPC De Anza Mobile Home Park’s current operator noticed the City that they were “terminating their operating contract effective June 30.”
Saladin said the City’s proposed, short-term lease with Campland would be “four years initially, with one-year extensions that automatically take place if the lessee completes public benefits within a 24-month period.”
Jacob Gelfand, vice president of operations for Campland, made his case to MBPC during a 15-minute slideshow presentation. He argued the dilapidated and asbestos-contaminated former De Anza Mobile Home Park constitutes an emergency health threat.
“Overgrown brush and trees also pose a hazard, and the bike and pedestrian path going all the way around the peninsula are in need of repair to make it safe and accessible,” said Gelfand. “The bad news is, it’s going to take a minimum of five years for the City to move forward on its long-term revitalization plan. The good news is, we (Campland) can address some of these challenges during that interim period, without prejudicing the outcome of that long-term plan process.”
Added Gelfand, “If anything, it (short-term lease) is going to accelerate the timing and dramatically reduce the cost and complexity in moving forward with whatever (redevelopment) plan is ultimately selected and approved.”
MBPC board member Chris Redfern, representing District 2, asked, “Any reason why the City hasn’t looking into a month-to-month lease on the site?”
City real estate reps replied that the short notice given by the former mobile home park’s current operator precluded that option.
Gelfand’s plan includes: a five-year lease to take over camping at De Anza RV; a 24-month timeframe to do asbestos abatement and remove abandoned mobile homes; re-opening the scenic coastal bike and pedestrian path around De Anza peninsula; adding 150 more RV campsites to the existing 260, as well as a shuttle between De Anza and Campland; and extending Campland’s lease through 2026.
Not everyone agreed with Gelfand’s plan, with some critics questioning its motivation.
“We’re looking forward to moving ahead with wetlands restoration that was identified 25 years ago in the Mission Bay master plan,” said Karin Zirk, of Friends of Rose Creek. Warning of the potential for legal challenges, Zirk added, “I do not want a lease to be granted that would end up in litigation, where everyone loses.”
PB activist Scott Chipman spoke in favor of the Mission Bay Gateway Plan, missionbaygateway, which calls for balancing recreational, educational and environmental needs in Mission Bay Park redevelopment.
Kristen Victor, representing C-3, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the region’s built and natural environment, said: “We believe a holistic plan needs to be provided. There’s no current emergency here.”
“We are at a unique crossroads where the City has an opportunity to revitalize Mission Bay into a world-class water park with guest lodging, recreation, education, mobility and accessibility for all,” said C-3 prior to the June 4 meeting.
“Yet, piecemeal planning and short-term interests threaten to diminish this historic opportunity… the City has proposed a short-term development deal for a portion of De Anza Cove. If the proposal is approved, commercial land uses will become further entrenched, limiting the ability to revitalize Mission Bay Park into a world-class destination with greater bay front access.”
Gelfand’s plan is expected to be heard by the City Council later in June. The Coastal Commission would also have to sign off on it at a later date.