Archives: Current Issues 2007
back to list
POLO CLUB'S APPLICATION CLOSED AND ILLEGAL GRADING REFERRED TO NEIGHBORHOOD CODE COMPLIANCE (8/7/07)
The San Diego Polo Club's application to use a public trail in the San Dieguito River Valley as an exercise track for their polo horses has been closed by the City of San Diego, and the issue of illegal grading referred back to City's Neighborhood Code Compliance Division.
The City stated their concern in a May 29, 2007 letter to the Club:
"Staff is not in support of a horse exercise trail in the present location. Staff will support a multi-use public trail with a horse exercise trail separated from the public uses but cannot commit to supporting the trail in its present location as environmental impacts caused by the illegal grading ...have not been determined at this time."
Major issues noted were:
Biological Impacts - The illegally graded track is within the wetlands and flood plain and is subject to the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Regulations. A new (since the original approval for the Polo Fields did not include any plans for grading) California Environmental Quality Act document is required.
Trail Use and Location - The trail must be a public multi-use trail designed to City Trail Standards. The current disking operation across the entire width of the trail does not meet these Standards and is not acceptable. The disking for a horse exercise track to prevent injury to horses makes the public trail difficult to navigate for hiking or bicycling and may be causing indirect impacts to the wetland habitat.
A Civil Penalty Notice and Order was served on the Polo Club, located at 14555 El Camino Real, June 9, 2005. At that time the Club was notified that the property was in violation of the San Diego Municipal Code and subject to civil penaties because of the grading adjacent to protected wetlands and outside the leasehold property line for the Polo Fields.
A hearing was conducted and on December 23, 2005 the hearing officer ordered the Polo Club to "immediately cease surface grubbing and grading at the property." And further, that on or before February 28, 2006 the Polo Club shall "...submit a completed application for a...grading permit for the restoration of all grading at the horse exercise trail...(to) include plans for the restoration of vegetation in the areas identified..." or "Respondent shall make application for a grading permit and a site development permit to developt the horse exercise trail in the area referenced.."
The Polo Club submitted an application that was considered incomplete due to failure to submit plans that would separate the exercise trail from the public multi-use trail and failure to address biological impacts caused by illegal grading in the wetlands. The City extended the deadline of Feb. 28 at least twice.
The property leased by the Polo Club is public land, deeded to the City of San Diego in 1983 to mitigate for development in the River Valley that exceeded the allowed uses. The designated public trail is part of a 55-mile long San Dieguito River Park that begins at the beach in Del Mar and ends at Vulcan Mountain near Julian. In 1986 the City Council approved a lease with the Polo Club with the understanding that only polo related activities would be allowed on the property and that the public would have access to the property when polo was not scheduled. The lease specifically excluded from the leasehold, and use, a designated public trail running along the southern border of the property and the northern riverbank. In about 2003 neighbors began complaining to the City regarding the many non-polo related activities being held at the property, the noise and traffic, and the Friends hired an attorney to communicate our concerns regarding the lease violations. The lease expires in 2012.
Ann Gardner 8/7/07