Access to Reservoirs

BOS Meeting Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Agenda Item #7
On motion of Supervisor Joel Anderson
Report back to the Board by May 16, 2022

SUBJECT: PURSUING PARTNERSHIPS TO INCREASE RECREATIONAL ACCESS TO RESERVOIRS (DISTRICTS: ALL)


OVERVIEW

San Diego’s reservoirs provide much more to the region beyond storing water. They give thousands of citizens an opportunity for recreation. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that outdoor activities are essential for everyone to enjoy exercise in a safe environment. The region’s 24 reservoirs allow for fishing, boating, hiking, picnicking, and more. Due to budget constraints, several reservoirs throughout the region that are owned and operated by various agencies other than the County of San Diego are not open to the public during several days of the week. For those that have a longer drive to access the Pacific Ocean, this presents a hindrance to enjoying the water resources of the region. For example, five reservoirs managed by the City of San Diego located within the unincorporated County have been closed an additional day each month since July 2019 due to budget reductions. This is in addition to the regularly scheduled days when they are not open. El Capitan Reservoir-located in the unincorporated Lakeside community and operated by the City-is closed to the public every Wednesday and Thursday, and the first Friday of each month. Though it can be understood that municipal budgets are not unlimited, the nearby residents dependent on these public resources deserve to have reliable access to recreation. Access to publicly owned land is vitally important for the overall health of our communities. Outdoor recreation can provide stress relief, socialization, and nature appreciation through physical interaction with the natural world . In times of crisis or disaster, outdoor recreation also provides an important means of coping. Loss of access to outdoor recreation opportunities inhibits individuals’ abilities to engage with restorative natural environments and escape the pressures of the crisis . Today’s action calls for the County of San Diego’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to begin discussions with the public entities that manage reservoirs in the unincorporated area to determine the feasibility of providing operational support for the recreational use of reservoirs on a permanent basis. This includes, but is not limited to, the City of San Diego, the San Diego County Water Authority, and the Sweetwater Authority. The County DPR team has an established track record of providing quality access to the region’s recreational assets and is well equipped to begin the process of engaging our valued regional partners to determine how to maximize the use of these treasured recreational resources.

RECOMMENDATION(S)

SUPERVISOR JOEL ANDERSON

1. Find that the proposed actions are not subject to CEQA per Section 15060(c)(3) of the CEQA Guidelines because the action is exploring the feasibility of operational hours of existing reservoirs used for recreation is not a project as defined in CEQA Guidelines Section 15378(b)(5). Pursuing partnerships for additional recreational activities is an administrative exercise, and any agreements, plans, funding, or additional approvals will be reviewed consistent with the CEQA Guidelines at the appropriate time.

2. Direct the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation to coordinate with the City of San Diego, San Diego County Water Authority, Sweetwater Authority, and other valued regional stakeholders, to determine the feasibility and costs of the Department of Parks and Recreation providing operational support for the recreational use of reservoirs located in the unincorporated area on a permanent basis and report back to the Board in 180 days (May 16, 2022).

EQUITY IMPACT STATEMENT

Improving recreational access to the San Diego region’s reservoirs will enhance the quality of life for County residents and visitors of all ages. Recreational access promotes health and wellness, safe communities, and civic pride for all walks of life within the region. Expanding the opportunity to access nature and recreational opportunities near water can improve the physical, intellectual, social, and emotional health for our residents.

FISCAL IMPACT

There are no fiscal impacts associated with this action. There may be future fiscal impacts associated with future recommendations included in the report back to the Board, resulting from the direction to staff to coordinate with the City of San Diego, San Diego County Water Authority, Sweetwater Authority, and other regional stakeholders, to determine the feasibility and costs of the Department of Parks and Recreation providing operational support for the recreational use of reservoirs located in the unincorporated area on a permanent basis. Any such recommendations would need to return and be approved by the Board.

BUSINESS IMPACT STATEMENT

The proposed actions will help businesses and workers in San Diego County through the advancement of potentially expanded recreational programming opportunities at the reservoirs.

ACTION:

ON MOTION of Supervisor Anderson, seconded by Supervisor Fletcher, the Board of Supervisors took action as recommended.

AYES: Anderson, Lawson-Remer, Fletcher, Desmond

ABSENT: Vargas

11172021sop.pdf