Monday, April 16, 2007 | I saw your piece on Fiesta Island and realized again that there are a lot of us in San Diego who would prefer that they leave the island alone. All of the current users — dog owners, bikers, runners, OTL, rocket club, etc — have supported fixing the roads and cleaning up the bay water but would prefer that they not change the character of the island.
Unfortunately, we are being told that “progress” is inevitable due to a master plan that was developed 50 years ago. There are many of us who are working very hard to steer the development in the direction of minimal change but it is a difficult and frustrating path.
In regards to maintaining some leash-free areas, I am working with two groups. I’m a veterinarian and am serving as the liaison to the board of directors of the San Diego County Veterinary Medical Association on this issue.
I’m also working with FIDO, which is the Fiesta Island Dog Owners. We have been able to get some changes regarding the off-leash usage but it will never be like it was. To me it’s particularly frustrating as the dog owners are the biggest year-round user of the island and will ultimately lose the most.
We have been told that there are no promises for the future and I suspect that over time more acreage will be lost to dog use. (There are currently 40,000 acres of public parkland in San Diego. If you exclude Fiesta Island, there are only 40 acres available for off-leash use. That’s not a lot of space for the county’s 700,000 dogs.)
I also find it rather curious that the city plans to spend millions of dollars on this development in a time when we can’t even fix the holes in our streets. They state that they will get the money through grants and bonds but how will Park and Rec maintain the island once it’s developed?
Will they close more neighborhood swimming pools and rec centers so they can maintain Fiesta Island?
Any proceeds from the leases within Mission Bay have long since been swept into the General Fund. Do they think they will get that money back?