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Earlier this week I signed a letter to the mayor urging him to save Fido, er, Fiesta Island. It was somewhat unusual behavior for me as I avoid, as a rule, signing on to petitions and proposition campaigns because I think people are being asked to make decisions they’re not qualified to make. But the Fiesta Island issue is pretty clear to me and it’s a quality of life issue that is entirely relevant to San Diego Dollars & Sense.

You’ve probably heard that city-contracted developers have come up with a great plan to turn Fiesta Island — the dusty paradise I love — into Ski Beach or one of those other Mission Bay parks that always look overcrowded with RVs and campers and boats.

You can check out the city’s Fiesta Island General Development Plan here.

The proposal calls for significantly reducing the off-leash dog space on Fiesta Island, and completely eliminating beach and water access for dogs. The city planners also want to add restroom buildings, boat docks, grass and parking lots. When I first heard my fellow dog owners getting riled up about Fiesta Island, I was skeptical about their concerns. Would it be such a bad thing to add some grass and picnic tables? No. And a kayak dock would be kind of cool.

But it would be terrible to turn the rustic, natural beauty of Fiesta Island into another one of Mission Bay’s overcrowded tourist attractions. Why can’t the planners just add a kayak dock and some picnic tables without taking away from the great beauty of this last wild place in the city of San Diego?

It’s not just dog owners who are upset by the plans.

Cyclists and runners also take advantage of the low traffic at Fiesta Island.

Today’s Fiesta Island is a respite from development.

It’s a great place to ramble with or without a dog because it’s so big. I go there several times a week with our dog and, although we see dogs running across the great expanse of land, we don’t always cross paths.

You can climb up and down the bluffs, watch crew teams race across the bay and, enjoy the great empty park in the middle where wild grasses make great nesting materials for Fiesta Islands vast bird population.

And I know Fiesta Island is manmade so don’t write to tell me how it’s not natural, or beautiful or wild, because it is all those things. Don’t believe me? Just go take a walk there. Dog or no dog, you’ll love it.

Or head over to the final public meeting on the subject at Balboa Park tonight.

CATHERINE MacRAE HOCKMUTH

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