A proposal to replace the De Anza Cove mobile home park with wetlands, recreational facilities and campers.
Scott Chipman does not consider himself a patient person. “Persistent” is more like it.
It’s also the word he uses to describe the efforts he has made during the past three years to create and implement a plan to turn part of Mission Bay into an environmental, educational and recreational joint-use project.
Chipman needs persistence, given the history of Mission Bay and one of its quirkier features: a mobile home park on De Anza Cove. The park’s lease with the city ended years ago, but residents have filed legal challenges that have allowed them to remain.
Chipman, a Pacific Beach resident who is on the neighborhood planning commission, wants to use that land for part of his Mission Bay Gateway Project. That plan would affect Mission Bay High School, Mission Bay Golf Course, Campland on the Bay (a privately run campground that leases the site from the city), Rose Creek and the Kendall-Frost Mission Bay Reserve.
The concept is to move Campland on the Bay from the west side of Rose Creek to De Anza Cove, on the east side.
Most of the land that makes up Campland would then be restored to marshlands. The project would also include the refurbishing or reconstruction of the Pacific Beach youth fields, new restrooms for the Pacific Beach Tennis Club and a joint-use aquatic center for the community, visitors to Campland and Mission Bay High School students. They would be allowed to use each of the other facilities.
“My natural inclination in terms of planning is to look at the whole area and try to identify what synergies are between all the elements,” Chipman said. “It became very clear early on that there could be a benefit to every constituent group that was using those facilities if we had a master plan.”
While Chipman has a clear view of what he wants the finished project to look like, he also has a a plan for funding it. The marshalnd resotoration and expansion can be paid for with mitigation funding from other environmental encroachments by entities such as SANDAG, the California Department of Transportation or port authorities, he said.
Coastal wetlands are the most valuable for mitigation and those agencies aggressively pursue such endeavors, he said. The recreational joint-use facilities on the east side of Rose Creek would be built and paid for by the leesee of the camping facility (presumably Campland) as part of its negotiated 50-year lease, he said. No city or Mission Bay Park funds would be needed.
If he had his way, vetting and public input on the project would have wrapped up by the end of last year. Negotiations and lease agreements between developers and the city would finish by the end of 2014. Construction would start in 2015 and last through 2017, when all the facilities would finally open to Mission Bay High School students for athletics practice and outdoor classes, as well as to tourists, residents and Campland campers.
But everything hinges on the removal of the mobile home park, which sits on 76 acres of prime Mission Beach land. It’s so desirable, the city once eyed putting hotels there. Residents’ leases were up in 2003, and the city says the folks, many of them elderly, need to leave. But haven’t. They say they need to be compensated adequately so they can afford alternative housing.
The legal back-and-forth with De Anza Cove residents has lasted for years. Even so, City Councilman Kevin Faulconer said he’s ready to start planning for the future of Mission Bay. And to him, Chipman’s plan very well could play a big role in it.
“It’s a great concept and it’s in keeping with many of the goals of the Mission Bay Park master plan,” Faulconer said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that once we get past the litigation issues in De Anza, that we should move full-speed ahead. … Any way you look at it, the public is going to benefit from increased access to the park and the environmental benefits of expanding the wetlands.”