Campland contract area in Mission Bay Park. Image via Louis Rodolico

On June 4, Pierre Saladin, a representative of the City of San Diego’s Real Estate Assets Department, and Campland representative Jacob Gelfand made presentations describing how Campland on the Bay is proposing to spend $8 million to improve the southern section of the De Anza Peninsula.

These took place at the Mission Bay Park Committee meeting at the Santa Clara Point Recreation Center.

The existing management company has given the city notice that it intends to terminate its agreement June 30. Campland has proposed improvements that that include asbestos abatement and repairs to roads, bike paths, sidewalks and utility pedestals. It is a four-year proposal with the possibility of a one-year extension if all the improvements are completed in two years.

This 260-space RV section of the property is generating revenue for the city, but the current management company is not required to make any of the improvements to the property that Campland will implement under this proposed lease. This is an opportunity to use the property. The city has agreed to $8 million in rent credits.

In 2018, Campland generated over $3 million for the city between rent and the transient occupancy tax, so they are a good candidate to revitalize this property. The starting point minimum rent for this portion of the De Anza Peninsula will be approximately $591,000, based on the past three years of gross revenue generated at the site.

The lease doesn’t actually guarantee anything for Campland, but will make it easier to implement whatever plan is chosen for De Anza by cleaning up the site. However, the 1994 Mission Bay Park Master Plan Update recommended that Campland be relocated to the De Anza Peninsula, citing several reasons why it would be a sensible location to replace Campland’s existing site.

This should help the rewild project since the relocation of Campland can occur seamlessly. Campland supporters invited Audubon, the Sierra Club and all other conservation groups to join them in cleaning up the site. Conservation groups balked, stating that there should be contracts for all the improvements. However, this would delay the process allowing the abandoned site to remain a local blight.

Campland managers are familiar with the site and are certain that they can accomplish the work required to meet the city’s schedule. The city Planning Department also stated at the meeting that the Coastal Commission would not have any objection to these improvements given they are for a use that the Coastal Commission has already approved.

Having spoken with several of the players, I see the disagreement revolves around who will have access to the shoreline. Conservancy groups want Campland inland near or on the golf course with little or no access to the shoreline. Campland would like to continue to have a beach associated with its family friendly facility.

Louis Rodolico

Personally, I am skeptical that conservancy groups can properly design and fund the rewild process, given the northern Kendall site adjacent to Campland has remained a blight for years, with unfinished grading and an ugly chain link fence.

Conservancy groups should have moved to improve this area years ago to demonstrate both their capability and good faith. Unfortunately, with corporations paying less and less taxes it is becoming more difficult to find corporate sponsors looking for tax benefits.

With community support, we can do both things — we can help conservancy groups figure out how to find private, corporate and government sponsors for the rewild project and we can support a good partner like Campland by the Bay.

Louis Rodolico has been a resident of University City since 2001 and is a candidate for San Diego District 1 City Council. Jacob Gelfand contributed to this piece.

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