Proposal for the Least Development at Fiesta Island Advances to Full San Diego City Council

by on June 10, 2019 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

The debate around the future of Fiesta Island in Mission Bay has been brought to a focus now that the San Diego City Council’s Environment Committee decided on May 23 to send their favorite proposal for its future to the full council.

That proposal – which was unanimously endorsed by the committee – is known as “Option B” and it would reserve much of Fiesta Island’s southwest corner for a fenced-in, off-leash dog park – which currently exists – but would be enlarged, it also includes parking areas at the north and east perimeters of the area, and walking trails.

“Option A” was a plan to include a smaller fenced-in, off-leash dog park; park road extension that cuts through the dog park; parking lot; boat storage area; and a park adjacent to a swimming beach.

City staff have been pushing Option A, which also includes upgrades such as turf fields, children’s play structures, picnic areas, a camping area, restrooms, public plazas, hiking trails, parking lots and a concession stand.

Whatever option wins out will become an amendment to the Mission Bay Park Master Plan, which guides future development of the largest aquatic park on the West Coast, which is visited by an estimated 15 million people each year. No date for the full council hearing has been scheduled as of yet.

As most San Diegans know, Fiesta Island is that mostly undeveloped 470-acre island in the middle of the bay, created by dredging in the 1940s

The current debate over the future of Fiesta Island has been going on since at least 2015, and the OB Rag has been providing a platform for that debate. Some of framed it as a “dogs vs kayaks” debate but there other sides as well. See these:

But at the moment, it appears Option B has the upper hand with the support that has been expressed for it. Councilwoman Barbara Bry – who is running for mayor – praised B:

“It’s important to preserve as much open space as possible. It doesn’t require any expensive infrastructure and, most importantly, will preserve Fiesta Island as a gem and a magical place for San Diegans for generations to come.”

Councilwoman Vivian Moreno also voiced support for option B, particularly among dog owners:

“I am confident that city staff will be able to find a permanent location for non-motorized personal watercraft in other locations in Mission Bay Park. But I don’t think we need to destroy the experience of thousands and thousands and thousands of dog owners who use Fiesta Island right now in order to do so.”

On the other side of the aisle, Councilman Scott Sherman said his office received roughly 30 calls and more than 300 emails in support of option B, due in part of members of FIDO posting his office’s contact information.

Former city council members have also come out in support of Option B, and they include Donna Frye, Sherri Lightner and Lorie Zapf.

One of the major proponents of Option B has been the Fiesta Island Dog Owners (FIDO), a community-based nonprofit with more than 14,000 members, who are dedicated to preserving Fiesta Island’s leash-free recreation area. Created in 2006, FIDO came in the form of the public’s backlash in response to the city’s then massive development plan, which originally proposed removing or moving Fiesta Island’s leash-free dog area.

Carolyn Chase, president of FIDO, said Option B favors the dog park more than Option A:

“The dog park is the number one utilized space in Mission Bay Park, day in and day out, 365 days a year. Fiesta Island is the only shoreline on any bay in the city of San Diego that is accessible to off-leash dogs.”

The Mission Bay Park Committee and the city’s Parks and Recreation Board each voted this winter to support keeping the dog park unchanged – Option B.

Whichever proposal is supported by the City Council, it would then go before the California Coastal Commission – perhaps some time this summer. Money to carry out potential upgrades would come from rising lease costs from SeaWorld, hotels and Mission Bay tenants.

Even though much of it is undeveloped, Fiesta Island still offers amenities to humans, dogs and birds. There’s a fenced-off habitat for least terns in the southern part of the island and a habitat preserve in the northern portion of the island. The central portion of the island would continue to host the annual Over the Line tournament each July, and the San Diego Youth Aquatic Center and the Fiesta Island Youth Camp would continue to operate as usual.

Stay tuned.

News sources:



San Diego Community News Group

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

micporte June 11, 2019 at 8:31 am

I vote for plan B, less is more. (less development, more savings)
I remember during the big wildfires of early 2000’s Fiesta island was a haven for people fleeing the east county fires with their horses and livestock…we wouldn’t be able to provide that emergency haven if we let the mafia developers pimp it out. Nice to see that San Diego leaders are finally realizing that San Diego is a natural wonder, not just a place to pour more concrete. Voting for Barbara too. Wouldn’t it be great if we also got the whales to come back and breed in our natural wonder of a bay like they used to before it became a polluted military-industrial complex.


micporte June 11, 2019 at 8:38 am

ps: a major improvement to the water quality of east Mission Bay would be to build a bridge to Fiesta Island to allow more better water flow instead of the landmass access. East Mission Bay is kind of nasty with no circular flow and Sea World and speed boat pollution. Let the developers build that, thanks. it would allow kayakers to circle around as well.


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