The Coast News Group
Community Commentary

Budget cuts to regional park need to be reinstated

Mayor Faulconer’s proposed budget for the city of San Diego cuts $254,100 for a major 92,000-acre Regional Park, the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority (JPA), which has been in existence for 25 years.

Logan Jenkins, of the San Diego U-T once wrote, “ …the San Dieguito River Park, an ambitious conservation project stretching from Del Mar to Volcan Mountain, will be considered one of the San Diego region’s most noble achievements.

Our grandchildren will judge us not by what we sell, but by what we save.”

Thousands of San Diego residents are huge supporters and users of the Park and the 70-mile Coast to Crest Trail.

This is a significant deletion that, if not reinstated, will disenfranchise the important environmental, ecological, educational and recreational San Dieguito River Park.

The River Park includes the recently restored San Dieguito Lagoon, next to Interstate-5 by the Fairgrounds, which is used by hundreds of school children each week for educational purposes.

Families, hikers, equestrians and cyclists enjoy open areas and miles of trails at Del Mar, Del Dios,Lake Hodges, Rancho Bernardo, San Pasqual Valley, Pamo Valley, Santa Ysabel and Volcan Mountain.

All that changes if the budget remains as proposed.

Many acres in the Park are actually owned or leased by the city.

Will the trails and lands through these areas still be accessible to the public?

The San Dieguito River Park JPA was formed as a separate agency on June 12, 1989, by the county of San Diego and the cities of Del Mar, Escondido, Poway, San Diego and Solana Beach.

Now, the city of San Diego not only deletes its funding but so far has not renewed the agreement to ensure the JPA exists. All other entities have done so.

The city of San Diego funding is vital for the success of the River Park.

Richard Louv, nationally known author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle has stated,

“The future will belong to the nature-smart — those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”

In this high-tech America’s Finest City can we really afford not to have the San Dieguito River Park!

Peter M. Shapiro is president of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy.