The City Council will reconsider clarifying the definition of water and land in Mission Bay Park at 2 p.m. today.

City Councilwoman Donna Frye has sought to expand the definition of what areas in the park are considered water. Frye wants the definition to include wetlands.

The definition is important because a ballot measure voters approved in 1987 allows the city to lease out only 25 percent of the park’s land to hotels and other businesses, such as SeaWorld. If water or wetlands are counted as land, it increases the space that can be leased — at the expense of public parkland.

A 1968 survey of the park found 133 acres of wetlands.

A 2000 survey didn’t look for wetlands. It cut the park into two pieces: Land and water. The mean high tide line was used to distinguish land from water.

The council delayed voting on the item in May at the request of Mayor Jerry Sanders. A report since completed by Sanders’ office recommends the council oppose the change. Even if the park was fully built out as allowed by its master plan, it would not reach the 25 percent limit, Sanders’ report says.

The mayor’s report says:

The Master Plan’s intent is not to “reach the limit” of allowable dedicated lease area. Rather, lease areas are to be considered in balance with public recreation needs, environmental objectives, and revenue generation. … The proposed Ordinance, as drafted could actually have a greater impact to the amount of water area that could be leased. If marshland/wetlands areas are to be considered as water, the total amount of water acreage in the park would be larger therefore allowing more area of water to be leased.

We’ll have more on this later today.


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