Archives: Current Issues 2005
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CIVIL PENALTY NOTICE AND ORDER AGAINST POLO CLUB (7/8/05)

On June 9 the City of San Diego issued a five page Notice to the San Diego Polo Club on El Camino Real that they are in violation of the city’s Municipal Code and that the Club is subject to civil penalties. The Club denies any violation and is evidently challenging the Notice.

At issue is the Club’s maintenance and use of an area abutting the River as an exercise trail for the Polo Club horses. As pictured in photos taken by the Friends, the exercise area comes up to the river edge. Municipal Code requires a100-foot buffer as well as appropriate measures to prevent erosion and stop sediment and pollutants from entering the water.

A second issue is that the Club’s use of the area – a designated public trail - to exercise its horses precludes its use by residents for walking, hiking and bicycling. The San Dieguito River Park, which is developing a 55-mile coast to crest trail that includes this area, plans to develop a trail that can also be used by persons with disabilities.

The Polo Club leases 295 acres of land, which includes the polo fields, from the City of San Diego. Public Access Regulations in the Club’s lease agreement with the City designate the area of the horse exercise track as a public trail to “remain open to the public at all times.”

Chris Collins, a Director of the Club, says the graded exercise track is used by area equestrians and that walkers, runners, hikers and bicyclists can and do use the paved Polo Club Road on the north side of the fence. He says that he understands the property is open space to be made available to the public. (The lease also requires that the polo fields themselves are “open to the public during daylight hours for passive uses (i.e., spectating, picnicking) which do not interfere with use of the Polo Fields by Polo Club members practicing or playing polo nor…other normal operations of the Polo Club.”)

However, Collins also says the Municipal Code covering environmentally sensitive lands does not apply to the property because the code was enacted after the lease was signed. We hope the City continues to disagree.

 

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