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.