Friends of the San Dieguito
River Valley
 

 
Safeguard Our San Diego Countryside!
posted 04/27/18

The Friends are supporting the “Safeguard Our San Diego Countryside” effort to gather enough signatures to place an initiative on the November ballot that would require voter approval of significant amendments to the San Diego County General Plan.  The Plan protects farming, open space and wildlife uses.  The Plan was updated in 2011 by the Board of Supervisors after 13 years of input from residents, environmental organizations, the Building Industry and County planning stakeholders and $18 million dollars worth of planning. Minor increases or changes required by state or federal laws such as providing affordable housing would be exempt.  According to initiative proponents a few developers and their investors are pursuing General Plan amendments that would result in huge density increases that undermine “smart growth” principles without going to the voters.  They cite the Lilac hills Ranch proposal as an example.  Endorsers of the initiative include Sierra Club, League of Women Voters and Audubon Society. The group has until mid-May to gather almost 70,000 certified signatures to either put the initiative on the ballot or go to the Board directly for approval.   FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO www.saveoursdcountryside.org.

 

LOCKED OUT
posted 04/16/18
Photo © Ann Gardner

It is noon on a sunny San Diego weekend; bicycles and hiking shoes come out, picnic baskets are pulled off the shelf, beach umbrellas are found and everyone heads outdoors.  But the gates at 120 acres of public open space at the corner of Via de la Valle and El Camino Real, in the San Dieguito River Valley just east of Del Mar, are locked.  The sign letting everyone know that the property is owned by the City of San Diego “for the benefit of the general public under a lease agreement with the San Diego Polo Club” has been taken down and has not been replaced by the new lessee Surf Cup Sports.  Surf Cup Sports, the lease holder since July, 2016, seems to have gone out of their way to make it clear that even though their lease requires public access during daylight hours when they are not using the field, they are blocking passive recreation on the propety.  As a result on a sunny, perfect field day in San Diego public non-commercial recreation such as walking along the river bank, Frisbee, neighborhood baseball and soccer games are locked out.

Photo © Ann Gardner

We are talking with the City asking that Surf Cup Sports open up the fields as stipulated in their lease, as required by the City Council in 1986 when the Polo lease was agreed to and as promised by Surf Cup in their promotional material when they were competing for a new lease.  What do you think?

If you would like to see this public Open Space used as the City and the original Grant Deed intended we urge you to contact your San Diego District representative on the River Park Joint Powers Agency Board.  They are Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry from the First District which includes Del Mar Terrace, Del Mar Heights and Carmel Valley and Mark Kersey, representing the Fifth District which includes Torrey Highlands, Rancho Bernardo and Rancho Penasquitos.


 
 WETLANDS DOOMED?
posted 03/06/18
Photo © Ann Gardner

The 24-acre site pictured above contains documented wetlands or more specifically "fresh water emergent wetlands" that attract migratory birds at different times of the year. It is also the site of a proposed 165,667 square foot residential care facility with 172 surface parking spaces that would require raising the site 12-14 feet to keep the buildings out of the flood plain.

The site, located between the Soccer Fields and Via de la Valle just across El Camino Real east from Mary's Tack Shop, is currently zoned for very low density, residential, open space, natural resource based park or agricultural uses, and is part of Prop A lands which require a public vote to alter the zoning. Furthermore intermediate care and nursing facilities are specifically not permitted on Prop A lands. However staff in the Development Service Department, City of San Diego, allegedly says this prohibition could be removed by an amendment to the Municipal Code by, evidently, the City Council.

We are concerned that documented wetlands, a Proposition passed by the voters to manage growth of urban development in non-urban areas, as well as zoning could be so easily tossed aside. In January 2017 the Friends provided information to the City that we feel must be considered in their Environmental Impact Report on the proposed project. As of March, 2018 we have yet to see a Draft EIR that is required to respond to all submitted concerns and make a determination whether or not the project is able to mitigate for what we see as irreversible environmental impacts in the San Dieguito River Valley.

 

Recent hearing before Judge Pollack on the Surf Cup Lease

posted 03/06/18

On February 16, 2018 there was a hearing before Judge Pollack pertaining to nearly 150 City documents, stretching back to the original grant deed for the city owned fields in 1982, which FSDRV wants to use in its case but which the City deems inappropriate.  Judge Pollack adjourned the session without making a decision.  

The hearing is the latest action in a lawsuit the Friends filed against the City of San Diego demanding that the Surf Cup's lease be set aside until an Environmental Impact Report is completed. For more details click HERE.

A summary of our position at the February 16th hearing is HERE.


San Dieguito Monthly Bird Count
posted 01/15/18
8 years of Data
courtesy San Dieguito River Park
January 2010 - December 2017

The San Dieguito Monthly Bird Count identified 103 species in December. No new bird species were seen this month, so the cumulative species total after 8 full years of bird surveys remains at 235.

According to bird count leader Jayne Lesley, some interesting birds seen were Loggerhead Shrikes in three areas; Clark’s and Western Grebes in the area east of the freeway and north of the river; Canada Geese, Snow Goose, Ibis, and a Cinnamon Teal in the Del Mar Horsepark and Surf Cup sports fields area; Horned and Eared Grebes in the tidal basin west of the freeway and south of the river; American Avocets and a Yellow Warbler in the area west of the freeway all the way to the beach; and Juncos and a Golden-crowned Sparrow in the Crest Canyon and Old Grand Avenue Bridge area. Data recorder Joni also noted a record 48 California Gnatcatchers were seen in 4 of the 5 areas.

Click here to view 8 years of data.
 
 
 
 

San Dieguito River Watershed

San Dieguito River Watershed.  Courtesy JPA
enlargement
 

From the mountains to the sea, the 55-mile-long San Dieguito River originates at Volcan Mountain in the Cleveland National Forest.  From there, it meanders through Lake Sutherland, San Pasqual Valley, Lake Hodges, the Del Dios Gorge and the San Dieguito Lagoon to the river’s mouth in Del Mar.  The river and its major tributaries flow through sensitive natural habitats, including oak/pine woodlands, sage scrub, and coastal wetlands, creating a network of critical wildlife habitats.

  

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