Conservation through Beautification in South San Diego

Evaporation Ponds, Lagoons, wetlands, San Diego, California

WILDCOAST attended a fantastic panel put on by C3 this morning and discovered that San Diego is a budding “tactical urbanism” hot spot.  What does this mean?  Roughly tactical urbanism encompasses temporary, urban projects to make streets more open, lively and enjoyable.  Often these projects aim to influence long-term change.  Just look at all the projects going on in East Village and the parklets in North Park, increasing walkability and open space for San Diego residents.  How can we fit this into coastal conservation?  Can we consider conservation or improvement of green space in urban areas ‘tactical conservation’?

WILDCOAST has a long history working in the Otay River Watershed and the South San Diego Bay, both of which are important coastal ecosystems existing in a fragile balance between urbanization and conservation.  The Otay Valley Regional Park, the western part of the watershed, was historically used for dumping and mining and is now a restored urban river parkway with trails for biking, while the salt ponds of South San Diego Bay are slowly being restored into beautiful wetlands.

Girl Scout Troop 5912 working to restore open space in the Otay Valley Regional Park.

The Port of San Diego has come out with new fence designs for the Palm Ave. corridor along Pond 20, a somewhat contentious parcel of Port tideland sitting along the City of Imperial Beach’s bay shoreline.  Beautifying ugly fences that are falling into the bay or inhibiting access to conservation areas, improving Palm Avenue’s walkability, and restoring the amazing coastal resources that sit along Imperial Beach’s shoreline all fit into this process and Pond 20 is the perfect place to start.  The catalyst to protecting and improving these resources is public input and engagement.

fence port

Improving the South San Diego bay Shoreline through smart, innovative planning and design concepts that can give the public free access to our coastal resources and make our streets more enjoyable requires extensive community input.  The restoration of the Otay River Watershed would not have been possible without public input and what will happen on Pond 20 will hopefully echo the sentiments of the surrounding communities, which call for restoration and beautification.   WILDCOAST is continuing this process with a Scenic South Bay Vision, which is a comprehensive plan with public input for the South San Diego Bay (and Pond 20) as a nature based conservation and recreation area that will enhance and improve these public spaces and our communities.

Call it what you will, but these short-term projects such as fencing improvements, as well as community engagement through stewardship events, will help improve walkability and quality of life in communities around these conservation areas.  Ultimately, it will influence long term change that will make South San Diego Bay a beautiful conservation area to be enjoyed by all.

Check out the fence designs and make sure to give your input and comments to the Port of San Diego.