Archives: NewIssues 2018


posted 12/12/18

The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the restoration of 141 acres just east of I-5 in the San Dieguito River Valley (outlined above), was approved by the River Park’s Joint Powers Authority at its November meeting. The restoration, financed by SANDAG and Caltrans as mitigation for the planned widening of I- 5, will supplement ongoing restoration work within the San Dieguito Lagoon.  The project includes restoration of 64 acres of tidal salt marsh, 15 acres of brackish/freshwater marsh and 5 acres of riparian habitat.  Restoration of additional coastal wetlands within the Del Mar Coastal area is expected to improve the ecological function of the whole San Dieguito Lagoon system.

Polo Fields Suit
posted 12/12/18

On August 29, 2016, FSDRV filed a suit against the City of San Diego, alleging that the 28-year lease of the Polo Fields to Surf Cup Sports LLC was illegal and should be revoked.  The lease had been negotiated the previous month following a public meeting of the City Council and a prior meeting of its  Smart Growth Land Use committee. FSDRV made presentations in opposition at both meetings. The claim of illegality was based on our assertion that the terms of the lease violated the California Environmental Quality Act. Dwight Worden and Adam Birnbaum submitted letters supporting our position. Sherri Lightner made a statement also in support at the Council meeting.

Various maneuvers by the City and Surf Cup have consumed more than two years of briefs and court appearances, but at last a decision by the court seems imminent.

The FSDRV case is described in “Second Amended Petition for Writ of Mandate,” 11 May 2018.  (A writ of mandate requests the court to order the City to correct illegal behavior).  

The case law and legislative statues supporting our position are given in “Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Second Amended Petition for Writ of Mandate,” 15 October 2018.  

The hearing before Judge Pollack is scheduled for January 28 2019, but before that can happen, the City response to our Memorandum is due December 19. Providing the City meets this deadline, the FSDRV counter argument is due January 11.

posted 11/16/18

Two inspiring tributes to the founders of the San Dieguito River Park are now available for you to watch and to visit.  A remarkable video documents how the 1972 vision of a few grew into the 55-mile long River Park beginning with the restoration of the San Dieguito Lagoon, and a sculpture park honors those visionaries.  See the video link below and go visit the exciting sculpture park set against a breath taking view of the restored lagoon.  Here in an original founder’s own words is the story of how it all began.

The Role of the Del Mar San Dieguito Lagoon Committee in Preserving and Restoring the San Dieguito Lagoon: Early History
By Nancy Weare 
October 19,  2011

In 1972, a group of local residents (including* Charles D. Keeling, Joe Lang, Margaret Porter, Rachel Reed, Stuart Resor, Walta Ross, Nancy Weare) concerned about the increasingly poor state of the lagoon, got together to discuss how they might reverse this trend. Their vision of a restored lagoon was brought to the City of Del Mar along with the request to become a standing city committee.
In 1974 the San Dieguito Lagoon Planning Committee was formed by the City of Del Mar with the purpose of preparing a plan for protecting, revitalizing and managing the lagoon ecosystem for the upcoming Coastal Act.  Local residents on the committee included*: Jack Bradshaw, Allan Carson, Don Coordt, Ed Coughran, Charles D. Keeling, Joseph Lang, Jeannie O’Toole, Margaret Porter, Herb Turner, Nancy Weare (chair), Gill Williamson and Jerry Winterer. In the same year (1974), the California Department of Fish and Game and the federal Fish and Wildlife Service recommended the San Dieguito lagoon for top priority acquisition. In 1976 the California Coastal Act was enacted and the lagoon was defined by the California Coastal Commission as a sensitive resource area worthy of special protection under this Act. 

full text in pdf format

Click on image to view video.
Founders Tribute Park
Map embedded in stone
Founders names engraged in stone pillar
Concrete Jungle for Profit
posted 07/20/18
Photo by Mary Stetson from her deck.

I live directly above the Polo Fields at Fairbanks Polo Club.  This weekend July 14 and 15th, there were so many cars going in and out of the fields that I could not exit on to Via de la Valle, or return.  I read that your organization has filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego and hope that you will be successful now that the City can see for themselves the damage  to the land and enviornment this for profit organization has done to our beautiful open space Just bringing 1,000 cars in and out every weekend is damaging the environment with pollution.

I have attached a photo from my deck.  Please let me know what I can do as the Surf Club has indeed turned this into a concrete jungle "for profit." 

from Mary Stetson

Fairbanks Polo Club Homes
posted 06/24/18

On May 11 our attorneys filed an Amended Petition (AP) pertaining to the lease of the Polo Fields to Surf Cup.  The AP primarily modifies our 5th cause of action (page 9) asking the court to find the City is violating the law by not following their own municipal code in regards to being a landowner of the Polo Fields property.  In a major advance in the case, the AP also asks the Court to add the Fairbanks Ranch Homeowners Association as a Party-in-Interest to this lawsuit (page 3).  Our main cause of action, claiming the City violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by omitting an analysis of the environmental impact of the lease is unaffected (page 8). Actions by the city and Surf Cup have caused the Aug 3 hearing date to be delayed to Aug 10.  Further delays in the case are expected.

Click here  to read the full Petition.

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.

Note:  The City has told Surf Cup that they "are on notice" to keep the gates open during daylight hours when Surf Cup events are not using the field.

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.

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