The City of San Diego community plan amendment fails to analyze the many negative impacts to the fresh-water riparian and salt marsh habitats in the Pacific Beach portion of Rose Creek leaving community activist no choice but legal action.
On October 9, the Friends of Rose Creek filed litigation against the City of San Diego to force the City’s compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) regarding the proposed zoning densification immediately adjacent to one of the last remaining coastal riparian zones in the area: Rose Creek.
The Balboa Avenue Station Area Specific Plan (Plan) is a community plan amendment to the Pacific Beach and Clairemont Community Plans that proposes increasing zoning density seven-fold in the area west of Interstate 5, east of Rose Creek, and north of Grand Avenue as shown in the map below. Additionally, it identifies the safe route to the trolley station will be using the Rose Creek Bike Path and that residents of the new high-density village can use Rose Creek for recreation.
According to the Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR), the adopted high-density plan as well as the analyzed medium density alternative will have significant negative impacts to traffic, air quality, biological resources, historical and tribal cultural resources, noise, and paleontological resources. This stretch of Rose Creek provides critical coastal wetlands for a wide range of year-round, migrating, and snow birds who feed along Rose Creek and in the Rose Creek Salt Marsh & Estuary.
The Plan relies on the “open space” of Rose Creek for parkland, despite Rose Creek not being designated as a park and not receiving park services. This area is currently designated as a Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP), Multi-Habitat Planning Area (MHPA) area. The Friends of Rose Creek are the primary caretakes of this amazing area.
The Plan relies on the Rose Creek Bike Path to provide safe ingress and egress to the trolley station for the entire Pacific Beach community and all individuals who will be using the Balboa Avenue trolley station to access Pacific Beach without addressing impacts to biologic resources or any plan to provide maintenance in an area already suffering from a lack of City attention. Furthermore, the Plan excluded significant analysis of potential impacts to Rose Creek by artificially drawing the boundary of the Plan area to exclude the creek and the bike path.
In fact, the Plan mentions the uses of Rose Creek and the Rose Creek Bike Path twenty times and over 200 times in the PEIR, yet the PEIR specifically excluded the impacts to Rose Creek despite numerous requests by the community to identify the impacts both during scoping and in comments to the draft PEIR. If the City wants to encourage more users in this sensitive habitat, then the City needs to provide park rangers, trash pickup, and other maintenance services to protect this rare coastal wetland.
The Friends of Rose Creek are disappointed that the San Diego City Council failed to act on this critical oversight of the City of San Diego Planning Department and provide the type of support all urban creeks need in order to thrive and create daily nature encounters for our children. We hope engaging the City through the legal process will rectify this tragedy.
About the Friends of Rose Creek:
The Friends of Rose Creek is an unincorporated association of residents and property owners within the City of San Diego who seek to preserve the aesthetic and environmental qualities of Rose Creek in the City of San Diego; who restore habitat and remove non-native invasives; and who seek to ensure accessibility, protect bicyclist and pedestrian safety, and otherwise protect the environment, health and safety of Rose Creek for residents, visitors, and businesses.
“Imaginary Lines, Real Consequences: The Effect of the Militarization of the United States-Mexico Border on Indigenous Peoples” by Joseph Kowalski, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law
In just three hours last month, more than 6,800 volunteers cleared nearly 145,000 pounds of waste and debris from streets, canyons, parks and the coastline in communities across San Diego County for the 35th annual Coastal Cleanup Day. The day’s environmental protection effort took place at 108 sites around the region and prevented the equivalent of six garbage trucks emptying their contents into the ocean.
Since Coastal Cleanup Day’s inception, plastic in all its forms remains the chief polluter collected throughout San Diego County. From food wrappers to cups and water bottles to fast-food containers, single-use plastics were found across parking lots, public parks, within canyons and around schools.
Some of the most unusual items found were: a zombie apocalypse kit, a library book from Kentucky, 64 pallets, Star Wars figurine, a stroller, and more!!
One of the cleanup locations was at Rose Creek in Pacific Beach.
The Friends of Rose Creek would like to send out a huge thank you to the 149 volunteers that attended Coastal Cleanup Day at Rose Creek. Volunteers fill up 1.5 40-yard roll offs full of trash and down trees with 1501 volunteers. Our total haul was over 3,000 pounds of trash.
A huge thank you to Campland-on-the-Bay for Ice Cream for the volunteers. It was much appreciated after a long hot morning of physical work. Thanks to Monica, Jordan, and Josh from Councilmember Campbell’s office for joining us as well as Sarah and Adrian from I Love A Clean San Diego. Students and faculty from the Sweetwater Union School District, University of California, and the Circle K Club from San Diego State University were out in force. Amazing work everyone! We truly appreciate your support.
The Friends of Rose Creek is heart broken that San Diego City Council, despite multiple opportunities, declined to include park dedication for Rose Creek as part of the Balboa Avenue Station Area Specific Plan approval.
A huge shout out to Councilmember Chris Ward who added language to the Balboa Avenue Station Area Specific Plan to direct funding towards Rose Creek. We are grateful to Council President Georgette Gόmez and Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry for doubling-down on their questioning of City staff on why Rose Creek was excluded from the plan. Councilmember Monica Montgomery asked City staff to explain why Rose Creek could not be a park and City staff were unable to provide a substantive response. Councilmember Scott Sherman graciously offered to provided guidance to City staff on grant opportunities for Rose Creek.
While Rose Creek did not obtain the protections that are so long overdue, most of the public testimony, both for and against the Balboa Avenue Station Area Specific Plan, included an ask from City Council to dedicate the portion of Rose Creek in the Mission Bay Park Improvement Fund Zone (between Mission Bay Drive and Grand Avenue) as park. Rose Creek dominated the hearing and that is testimony to all the people in San Diego who truly care about Rose Creek. From the over six-hundred of you who signed the petition, to the multitudes who emailed and/or called City Council, and the brave souls who ventured down to City Hall today and spoke or ceded time for others to speak on why Rose Creek should become a park, I am proud to be associated with you.
Each and everyone of you are my heroes. I look forward to the day when our Mayor, and hence City staff, work for “we the people” instead of the development interests and create quality projects that enhance our communities.
Various members of the Friends of Rose Creek and the ReWild Mission Bay Coalition were interviewed by KPBS News, Channel 8 News, Fox 5 News, Beach & Bay Press, and KUSI news. Check out this great summary by ReWild Mission Bay.
Progress Continues on the Rose Creek Bikeway
Over the past several months, construction crews made significant progress on the Rose Creek Bikeway as they completed work on the pedestrian bridge south of Santa Fe Street and began construction of the bikeway on Santa Fe Street between the cul-de-sac at the northern end and the new pedestrian bridge at the southern end. Recent construction activities on the west side of Santa Fe Street included:
- Clearing of the roadway shoulder to make way for the new bike path
- Shifting chain link fencing further west on Santa Fe Street to accommodate the new wall and curb that will form the western edge of the bikeway
- Installing a wall and setting forms for the new curb
Other construction milestones achieved on the Rose Creek Bikeway project over the last few months included continued drainage improvements and utility work, railing installation, and paving of the trail at the I-5/Mission Bay Drive undercrossing.
While significant progress has been made to date, there are many critical items that need to be completed before the new bikeway will be safe to ride. SANDAG reminds potential users that the entire Rose Creek Bikeway project area is an active construction zone and trespassing on the path is prohibited. The project is expected to be complete and open to the public in mid-2020. To learn more about the project, please visit KeepSanDiegoMoving.com/RoseCreekBikeway.
The City of San Diego run De Anza Cove and Point planning efforts are underway. If the City grants the lease, then Campland would invest six million dollars in capital improvements on the De Anza peninsula. The Friends of Rose Creek, San Diego Audubon, Citizens Coordinate for Century 3, and other groups oppose this lease due to concerns about future potential options for restoring wetlands in the area. All these groups and many more support ReWild Mission Bay’s “Wildest” alternative to protect the developed environment against sea level rise, restore a fraction of the over 4,000 acres of wetlands that used to exist in Mission Bay, provide habitat for birds, create safe harbor for commercially important fish, and other benefits. Read the 12 page report in PDF format.
KPBS Evening Edition was with Councilmember Campbell at Creek to Bay Cleanup on April 27. While the piece focuses on Dr. Campbell, there is great footage of Rose Creek and volunteers in action.