The Unified Port of San Diego has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Cities of San Diego and Imperial Beach to decide the future of Pond 20 in south San Diego Bay. Public comments are being accepted now, until the end of July, 2012.
Pond 20 is a 95.13 acre salt marsh wetland adjacent to the South San Diego Bay Unit of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Habitat restoration at Pond 20 could provide important habitat and foraging for threatened and endangered species of migratory and resident birds such as least tern, the snowy plover, and light-footed clapper rail.
It is with commitment and concern that we write in support of protecting the totality of the natural environment at Pond 20.
This project represents an excellent opportunity to involve the south San Diego Bay community in the protection and ecological restoration at Pond 20, to preserve the last remaining open space viewshed on the Palm Avenue corridor, and to facilitate public access to open space for healthy nature based recreation and nature appreciation.
We do not support the development of any retail, new housing, fill, or hotels at Pond 20.
Ideally, we would like to have the Port embark upon a project which supports ecosystem restoration for the rare Diegan Coastal Sage Scrub, salt marsh wetlands, and upland vegetation. The habitat at Pond 20 represents some of San Diego’s last best property for habitat restoration and mitigation. Pond 20 provides important habitat and forage for threatened and endangered species found in San Diego County and migratory species of international importance.
We support access to open space and healthy nature based recreational activities.
We respectfully ask the Port to protect this property for its open space values, which include passive recreational and educational opportunities for the underserved communities surrounding the site. We are amenable to the removal of the chain link fence that currently surrounds the property, to be replaced by a walking and cycling trail accessible to those with disabilities. This trail could also incorporate wildlife overlooks, interpretive signage focused on the historical and ecological components of Pond 20, and benches and walls suitable for wildlife viewing and resting. Any public art components which could be incorporated into these amenities would be of benefit to the community as well. The trail would ideally connect to the western end point for the OVRP and the existing Bayshore Bikeway and 13th Street Bikeway Village Project.
Further, we request that the Port work towards a proposal that incorporates the following management components for the future of Pond 20:
Restore the ecosystem and wildlife habitat at pond 20, overseen by representatives of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Support The Port and U.S. Navy draft Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP) to improve the habitat value of the shoreline infrastructure, reduction of armored shoreline in exchange for natural, more biologically functional shoreline.
Explore the potential for a habitat mitigation bank to be established. The Port and Cities of Imperial Beach and San Diego may be able to realize income from the sale of wetland and other credits
Adhere to the recommendations of the California Coastal Commission letter of February 28, 2011 that states the “best and highest use of the site would be habitat restoration.”
Direct any business related development towards redevelopment of existing urban and retail space in the surrounding communities
Respect the spirit of the Otay Mesa-Nestor Community Plan that designates Pond 20 as a Special Study Area of significant ecological importance, and (the Port) to address it’s biological resources, habitat value, and hydrology
As Pond 20 is within the 100-year floodplain, maintain the natural floodplain, and adhere to the most up to date scientific data that explains the dangers of sea level rise in the next 100 years
Retain Pond 20 as mitigation land for “water dependent” activities (i.e.: docks)
Preserve the open space amenities currently available at the site
Preserve the current viewshed at Pond 20
Permit public access to the perimeter of the site and explore opportunities for the construction of a multi-use path that rims the property for passive recreation, education, and wildlife viewing
Construction of small, wildlife viewing overlooks, historical and ecological interpretive signage for the purpose of public environmental learning
Removal of the chain link fence surrounding the property, to be replaced by a low sitting wall and/or benches constructed of recycled materials and designed by local students and artists
Explore Capital Investment Project funds to implement the above-stated projects
We hope that the Unified Port of San Diego, and the Cities of Imperial Beach and San Diego do the right thing, to work towards protecting open space, providing pubic access and recreational opportunities, and to restore the wildlife habitat at Pond 20. Thank you for taking our public comments.