Monday, April 15, 2013

Another Set Back for the Tunnels/Del Mar Mesa

Del Mar Mesa is one of my new favorite open spaces in San Diego County. Your best view of it without actually being inside it is that wide open space south of the 56, behind the Mobil at the Camino del Sur exit. It's technically not open to the public, but that doesn't stop many people. Why should we care? I've heard stories of people being fined for being back there (but never firsthand), and of course we want the open space protected. And to that end, one concern I've heard from several people is that it's the residents of Del Mar Mesa holding it up, because they don't want the public there. My own paranoia is that these developers want some of this land to get freed up and we'll lose this open space, and the developers are causing these delays as part of that.

McGonigle Canyon, inside the open space. From the San Diego Mountain Biking Association.

I spoke to someone in Councilwoman Lightner's office today (so I'm actually breaking this news - but it's not hard to be ahead of the Union-Tribune) and they were helpful and responsive as always. The plan to give this open space some official status has been under discussion for over 10 years, and finally everyone recognized that it was good for all involved (including the local residents), and finally everyone thought it was about to go ahead - until the SD Development Services Dept. announced that the plan was subject to CEQA (California environmental rules) and specifically that there are two archaeological sites that need to be investigated first. Another delay.

My own suspicion is that private developers had some influence over this decision at Dev Services - these are the usual "customers" of this department - and they have reasons to want to delay what was otherwise a done deal to finally make Del Mar Mesa legit. However another source in city government circles says that developers aren't as powerful in SD as they've been in the past, so I might just be paranoid. And looking at it from a developer's point of view, delaying the official open space designation wouldn't mean reversing it. Either way it's frustrating for all involved, but if there are in fact archaeological resources to be protected, I hope this setback isn't for naught. And I also hope we can have official open space back there sometime this century!

*Not to be confused with the nearby small community park on the north rim of Penasquitos Canyon, which was just announced.


SDownhillBomber said...

Thanks for the updated information. There have been tickets handed out on Wednesdays the last two times I went out, so we stayed clear of the preserve. I hope that the developers don't have that much power, this area should be protected and made an open space similar to Penesquitos canyon. The people that want to use it for nature and not development need to unite somehow and make their voices heard before we lose this amazing area forever.

Michael Caton said...

Do you know which agency is handing out tickets? It's very strange that they have the budget to patrol it but continue holding up turning it into open space. I still can't figure out whose interest it's in to prevent it from being made official. But I'm really starting to think the delays are just too well-timed (and enforcement too suspiciously allocated) for this to be the result of mere bureaucratic incompetence.

Unknown said...

I took a reporter from the Carmel Valley News up there on Saturday to look around. He had a chance to get some opinions from bikers and hikers. He's looking to talk to someone who received a ticket in the area recently. If anyone is interested in speaking with him, please post or email me at The article will likely run in a couple of weeks.