A Win for Coastal Access
n September 9, 2021, the CCC unanimously supported staff’s Recommendations and Findings for Consent Cease and Desist Order No. CCC-21-CD-01 and Consent Administrative Penalty No. CCC-21-AP-01.
The California shoreline belongs to the people of California, as guaranteed by our state Constitution and enacted law. The California Coastal Commission (CCC) was established in 1972
under the California Coastal Act (CCA) to protect coastal resources and provide maximum access and recreational opportunities “for all the people” of the state. Peter Douglas, the
former Director of the CCC, reminded us many years ago that the coast always needs saving and that the “job of environmental stewardship of the coast is never done.” Peter knew this to
be true from years of fighting for coastal access, protection, and restoration and he was right that the struggle continues today!
On September 9, 2021, the CCC unanimously supported staff’s Recommendations and Findings for Consent Cease and Desist Order No. CCC-21-CD-01 and Consent Administrative Penalty No. CCC-21-AP-01. These agenda items demonstrate that coastal access has been obstructed for decades in the northeastern corner of Mission Bay at Campland on the Bay and the Mission Bay RV Resort and that the public has been prevented from using the coastline in these areas. And they reinforce the public access that we should have had all along, with parking, bathrooms, interpretive signs, and more that supports us getting to our shared shoreline.
In 1945, the City of San Diego was granted these Mission Bay tideland areas by the State of California and they were to be held in a public trust which reserved to the people of the State of
California, among of the things, “the absolute right to fish in the waters of Mission Bay with the right of convenient access to such waters.” Contrary to these provisions, since then the City of San Diego has leased much of the northeast corner of Mission Bay (“the Leased Tidelands”) for recreational purposes to private commercial businesses known as Campland by the Bay and the Mission Bay RV Resort (the lessees), both owned and operated by related entities with the same president. These organizations, however, have obstructed public access to the coastline and are in violation of the CCA.
Guaranteed public access to Leased Tidelands coastal area is part of the agreement between the State of California and the City of San Diego, and all subsequent leases signed by the city.
The lessees of the Leased Tidelands are required not only to provide public access to the beach, but also, to give the public access to bike and pedestrian paths and a free large public parking lot in the area, and also to post signs notifying the public that access is available. But Campland by the Bay and Mission Bay RV Resort have refused to comply with the provisions of the leases they signed with the City of San Diego.
The violations are many. In addition to the above, the lessees have placed signs falsely stating that the Leased Tidelands are “private property” and that “public access is restricted.” They
have also placed physical barriers to block public access, by storing dumpsters, trailers, and boats at the coastal entry points and in the public parking areas, and they have hired private
security guards to prevent public coastal access. All of these actions violate the provisions of the leases signed with the City of San Diego and the CCA.
For decades the public has been tricked into thinking that the beaches in the Leased Tidelands are private and that there was no public access to these coastal areas.
Why has the City of San Diego allowed this to continue for decades and not acted on these violations before now? Why is the city not monitoring the terms of the leases it executes and stepping in when violations are occurring? It is time for the public to be made aware of these violations and for the government to protect the legal rights of its citizens.
For far too long the public has been denied access to the shoreline at Campland by the Bay and more recently, Mission Bay RV Resort. The coast belongs to all of us! Please make plans to visit these areas and do your best to hold our government representatives accountable for the work they are supposed to do. CCC Executive Director Jack Ainsworth and his staff work diligently to protect our access to the California coastline but they need your help!