Who's Park is it? Let them know it's yours!

You can help stop the bulldozing of Bahia Point in Mission Bay Park

by Mike Waters

t the Mission Valley Radisson on Friday, November 15, 9AM, the California Coastal Commission will consider whether to approve the City of San Diego's plans for Bahia Point Park, located on publicly owned land in West Mission Bay. The City spent four years preparing a Master Plan for all of Mission Bay Park, and the plan has enjoyed wide public support - except for the Bahia Point element. The plans for Bahia Point call for elimination of the public access road and all 250 parking spaces around the point. These facilities would be replaced by a bicycle path and expansion of the Bahia Hotel onto existing park land.

Bahia Point Park now supports a wide range of uses. It's a beautiful place for bay-side picnics and Is a popular launch area for small hand- and wind-powered craft. Fishermen abound. Parking is access for these users, and the city's plan for Bahia Point would eliminate their access.

Twelve million people a year and 80,000 on a peak day are attracted to the waters of Mission Bay Park and only 708 parking spaces are available. By last count, the Coastal Commission has received over 400 letters written by citizens objecting to the elimination of parking access. Each correspondent represents many more who share their opinion.

Who wants the parking to be eliminated? Well-financed representatives of the Bahia Hotel and commercially-oriented City Council Members who see potential income from the 10.5 percent occupancy tax the city would receive. No matter that other hotels are investing in large private expansions. No matter that the expansion should be built to accommodate sufficient public access. The hotel stands to gain near exclusive use of Bahia Point once public parking is eliminated. The hotel's desire for improvement is understandable, but is this a proper use of a public park?

Bahia Point was purchased, built and maintained by tax dollars: public bond money. Should the shared use of Bahia Point now be upset in favor of a private commercial development? Shouldn't commercial development defer to public uses on public park lands? Is the City so poor that it has to commercialize popular park land to make ends meet? Or is the City Council just willing cut favorable business deals with rich constituents?

The Master Plan went through an extensive public review process. The Planning Commission voted against the Bahia Point element of the plan. And the Coastal Commission's original approval of the Master Plan was invalidated by a Superior Court Judge as a result of undocumented communications between hotel representatives and three commissioners, two of which (Rick and Staffel) are still serving on the Board.

The proposed loss of access to a prime recreation area is mistake that deserves to be corrected. The Community Planners Committee, made up of representatives from San Diego's neighborhood planning groups, recently voted 14 to 1 to save the 250 public parking spaces of Bahia Point park.

The friends of Bahia Point Park ask your help to stand up against commercial encroachment further into Mission Bay Park:

Mike Waters for the Mission Bay Sunfish Fleet