Friends of the San Dieguito
River Valley

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More Wetland Restoration
posted 08/02/2020

The San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority (JPA) unanimously approved adding a 13-acre site to the larger restoration plan known as the Lagoon W-19 Restoration Project. Approximately 129,000 cubic yards of material will be removed from the new site, known as the W-6 site, and disposed of at the W-19 disposable site.  Approximately thirteen new acres of tidal wetlands will be established. The addition is consistent with the River Park’s longstanding support of restoration of wetland habitat within the San Dieguito River Valley. SANDAG is responsible for funding the planning, permitting and construction of the project while the City of San Diego is responsible for funding their mitigation portion.

Outlined in red, thirteen acres are added to River Park's
restoration project just east of I-5 at Del Mar.

Freda Reid Tribute
posted 06/14/2020

Freda Reid, a photographer of her beloved San Dieguito River Park and a former member of the Friends Advisory Board, was recently remembered by a request from the Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail in Yamhill, Oregon.  They wanted permission to use her photos on our website of fencing along the Coast to Crest Trail that borders private agricultural land.  “The photos are among the best (we) have seen that illustrate compatible fencing.”

Freda passed away on March 31 but her son Ian, as executor of her will, gave permission for her: “Mom would be very pleased to help support a project such as the Westsider Trail.”  Freda was a research scientist at Scripps Institute of Oceanography and early activist for restoration of the San Dieguito River estuary and well as the progress of the River Valley’s Conservancy’s acquisition and protection of lands in the river valley. 

We remember Freda for her many contributions to the River Valley’s preservation.

Verger's dairy cows.

Freda's "River Valley Views."
Photo Freda Reid.

Coast to Polo Fields Trail
posted 05/29/2020

The “Coast to Polo Fields” trail is a 2.5 mile section of the 70 mile partially completed Coast to Crest Trail that extends east from the Coast to Volcan Mountain near Julian. During the COVID-19 lockdown the completed trail that begins at Jimmy Durante Blvd. in Del Mar and ends at Horse Park near El Camino Real has become a great family friendly destination for bikers and hikers. Along the way we see, once in a while, a Giant Blue Heron, a mother Osprey tending her chicks atop a nesting platform, and swallows swooping to and fro from their nests clinging to the east side of the I-5 bridge. At the San Andres trailhead there is an Interpretive board and going east, the trail goes by the almost ready to open new Ranger’s Station. 

Although this 2.5 mile portion of the trail is not closed, face coverings and distancing is required.

Coast to Crest Trail.
Osprey nest with mom and dad and 2 chicks.
Photo Ann Gardner.
Great Blue Heron. Photo Ann Gardner.
Photo Ann Gardner.
posted 03/17/2020

The Friends are pleased to be part of the Coalition to Preserve the Polo Fields Neighborhood, a grassroots effort to restore the peace, tranquility and rural character of the communities surrounding the 114 acres of open space at Via de la Valle and El Camino Real currently leased by Surf Cup Soccer from the City of San Diego . As a longtime advocate for the preservation of the open space and petitioner of the 2016 lawsuit against the City of San Diego for determining that the Surf Cup Soccer project was exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), we are proud to be one of the neighborhood groups that have come together to persist in objecting to the intensification of uses at the former polo fields and violations of the lease agreement.

Go to to review the Coalition’s goals and activities, get updates and news articles. You can also post your  comments, photos and videos.

The Polo Fields

City of San Diego
Real Estate Assets Department
Addendum “A”
Dated July 15, 2015

Request made 5 years ago for Proposals for the lease of the City-owned property commonly known as "the Polo Fields"
here (or on the reference documents page)
posted 01/31/2020

Jan | Feb | Mar | May | June  | July  |  Sept  | Nov | Dec
State Attorney Xavier Becerra has ordered Surf Cup Sports CEO Brian Enge to Cease and Desist diverting or pumping storm water into the San Dieguito River via a 22nd Agricutural District ditch running along El Camino Real.
posted 12/12/19

Dear Mr, Enge,

The 22nd District Agricultural Association (22nd DAA) owns a parcel of land adjacent the San Diego Polo Fields, which Surf Cup Sports leases from the City of San Diego to operate several soccer fields. The 22nd
DAA has become aware that the Surf Cup Sport is utilizing generators
and other pumping equipment to convey stormwater from the soccer fields across a parking lot and into a drainage system located on the
22nd DAA's properly (see photo below). For the reasons set forth below, you are hereby directed to cease and desist unpermitted and unlawful redirection of stormwater on the 22nd DAA's property.

Continuation here
posted 11/15/19

After about two weeks of digging, heavy equipment has cleared a buildup of sand from the San Dieguito River inlet to restore tidal flushing to the lagoon. Excavators opened the river channel to the ocean on Nov. 12.
As an added benefit, an estimated 16,000 cubic yards of sand has been spread on the beach south of the river mouth to 18th Street.

Up and down north San Diego County, inlets of coastal lagoons are routinely dredged to allow for saltwater exchange that is critical to the wetlands' fragile ecology, which supports thriving communities of birds, marine life and vegetation.

The San Dieguito Lagoon inlet was last dredged in 2017.

The dredging is paid for by Southern California Edison and is part of a mitigation agreement that began around 2003 with a four-year, S100 million restoration of the San Dieguito Wetlands. The project created vast tidal basins west and east of Interstate 5. The utility agreed to the restoration and continued dredging of the river channel to compensate for marine life harmed by the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

Article and photo courtesy City of Del Mar.

posted 9/13/19
Lines to buy wearing apparel at the Surf Cup Sports Vendor Village at City owned open space that does not allow commercial services.

Surf Cup Sports neighbors, fed up with the noise, traffic and commercial uses generated by bigger and more events on the ‘Polo Fields’ are joining forces in hopes of  stopping the unprecedented, blatant commercial use of open space deeded to the citizens of  San Diego. Residents from Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar Terrace, Carmel Valley, Whispering Palms, Polo Point and Fairbanks Polo Club attended their first   meeting on September 7.

The soccer fields, once the Polo Fields, located on Via de la Valle at  El Camino Real,  occupy 114  acres of an “open space easement” deeded to the City in 1983 “permitting (only) passive, non-commercial recreational uses such as picnicking, walking, hiking and similar activities; non-commercial recreation uses not involving large assemblages of people or automobiles and shall prevent establishment of enterprises involving large assemblage of people or automobiles, including but not limited to recreational facilities publicly or privately operated.”

The City of San Diego has ignored the complaints of nearby residents for years beginning in the 1990s when the first lessee, San Diego Polo Club, began contracting non-polo events in order to make ends meet.  At the time the City warned the Polo Club that those events were meant to help out only temporarily and could not considered a permanent approval. Polo events were generally very limited and drew about 50 cars to a single event, as specified in the lease.

In 2016 the City awarded a new 28-year lease to Surf Cup Sports. Today as one looks out toward the San Dieguito River Valley on an event day, one sees about 2,000 cars coming and going to the Fields, about 40 port-a- potties, food trucks, a sponsor’s tent and a “vendor village.” At the vendor village attendees form lines to buy wearing apparel and other consumer goods. And the number of scheduled events continues to grow.
Increased use of the Surf Cup property has added thousands of cars making multiple trips along the two lanes of Via de la Valle.  On May 31, 2019, the 22nd Agricultural District submitted a complaint to San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer citing significant safety issues caused by the traffic and Surf Cup’s refusal to discuss coordinating schedules during the San Diego Fair to address those issues. The City has not responded.

Immediately after the City approved the Surf Cup Soccer lease the Friends filed a lawsuit against the City for failing to require an Environmental Impact Report before awarding the contract to Surf Cup Sports.  We have also submitted requests for Investigation of Code Violations.  The most recent reply from the City’s Real Estate Assets Department said “There is no commercial service being provided on the property. Surf Cup is allowed to sell apparel and miscellaneous retail items; Nexen Tire was a sponsor; food trucks have long been a part of the activities during any of the soccer and lacrosse tournaments played at the property and particularly during Polo Field matches when specific vendors were named sponsors of match days.” 

With City elections approaching, neighbors are encouraged to investigate the positions of the various candidates for City Council and Mayor with regard to Surf Cup Sports. AND contact your local representatives to voice your concerns about the negative impact Surf Cup events are having on your neighborhoods. A list of contact is provided here.

FSDRV continues to believe that the City of San Diego must respect the needs and rights of its citizens. Protection of the San Dieguito River Valley and avoidance of commercialization is something we owe to ourselves and to future generations.

posted 7/26/19

In 2017 after they were awarded a long-term lease for the Polo Fields, San Diego Surf Cup Sports declared in their Facility Updates that they had started “long-term event and facility planning … to restore the property into the premier youth soccer event facility … while decreasing the overall impact to the surrounding community.”  They go on to say that they “…will continue in earnest to improve the facility in order to provide a safe and efficient world-class facility while minimizing our impact to the neighbors, surrounding community, and the environment.”

Unfortunately, it appears that just the opposite has happened. Many of the nearby neighbors are complaining about the increased traffic during events.   One neighbor recently reported being stuck for 20 minutes trying to get onto Via de la Valle from their neighborhood.  On May 31st, the 22nd District Agricultural Association wrote to San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer that Surf Cup Sports was “unwilling” to work with them to “maximize safety for patrons of the San Diego County Fair and Surf Cup events by ensuring that activities and schedules were coordinated to avoid significant traffic issues on surrounding surface streets which would certainly result in potentially disastrous effects on emergency response (fire, police, medical).”

Read the letter to San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer here.

Desalination Study
posted 6/02/19
Test well under construction at eastern end of soccer fields.

The Olivenhain Municipal Water District, after drilling a 160-foot well at the south east corner of the property leased by Surf Cup Soccer, is pumping groundwater as part of a desalination study.  Water quality samples will be taken during the next 10-12 months to determine if the District can add about one million gallons a day to their locally sourced drinking water resources without impacting existing water wells in the same area.  The District has received a number of awards for expanding recycled water resources in Rancho Santa Fe and Encinitas.

According to staff, discharge from the well during the testing period will be used to irrigate the Surf Cup’s soccer fields.  Excess water will be discharged to the San Dieguito River near El Camino Real as permitted by the California Water Resources Control Board.  Development of local, sustainable water sources that can be treated to potable standards will help counterbalance the costs and availability of imported water the District said.

New Ranger Station
posted 5/22/19

San Dieguito River Park Principal Planner Shawna Anderson describes the new building on their website:

“Overlooking the San Dieguito Lagoon the 2,400 square foot ranger station will provide ranger offices, an enclosed garage and work yard, and the River Park’s first public restroom (that isn’t a portable!).  Designed for efficiency by Baker Design & Build architects, it will function as a much-needed work area for Park rangers performing maintenance and monitoring of the surrounding trail system and lagoon area. A small conference room will offer a place for meetings, education, and River Park volunteer staging for work on lagoon habitat and trails.”

The Friends have a long-standing agreement to work with the Park to provide Audio-Visual equipment at the new Ranger Station

Last Step River Path
posted 3/29/19

The last step in the River Path Del Mar extension project that will complete one of the last remaining segments of Del Mar’s Scenic Loop Trail was approved by the Del Mar City Council on March 4.  The approval includes accepting $25,000 from the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy to help fund the project.  The first steps of the Project provided pedestrian paths along the north side of San Dieguito Drive, from Jimmy Durante Boulevard to the Grand Avenue Bridge. 

The recently approved extension will extend the River Path from the Bridge to Crest Canyon.  According Del Mar Public Works Director the project is challenging because of limited shoulder space, sloping topography, existing utilities and limited site distance along San Dieguito Drive.  Along with the adjacent restored Lagoon, the restored wetlands on the Fairgrounds former parking lot and the Grand Avenue Bridge, the completed loop adds a pedestrian treasure to the San Dieguito River Park.
posted 3/5/19

With a unanimous vote the Friends are appealing the Final Ruling of Superior Court Judge Pollack denying the Friends petition for a Writ of Mandate requiring the City to comply with CEQA or an Environmental Impact Report for the Surf Cup lease. The appeal will be filed with the 4th District Court of Appeal, District 1.

According to the Superior Court’s website an “appeal is NOT a new trial and the appellate division will not consider new evidence… The appellate division’s job is to review a record of what happened in the trial court and the trial court’s decision, to see if certain kinds of legal errors were made in the case.”

Final Ruling of San Diego Superior Court
Judge Pollack says NO.
posted 2/14/19 - updated 4/01/19
The Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley are deeply disappointed with the final ruling of San Diego Superior Court denying the Friends’ Petition for a Writ of Mandate, which asserted the lease to Surf Cup was improper because it violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Our case in Superior Court has concluded with the “Notice of Entry into Judgment.”  Exhibit B of the Notice is the judge’s January denial of the Writ. Exhibit A  is the August decision, also favorable to the City, dismissing our fifth cause of action.
Click here for the fifteen-page pdf.
Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony + hike
posted 1/22/19
Three Additional Miles of the Coast to Crest Trail
Saturday, January 26, 10am, Pamo Valley
See star on map below.
Click to enlarge.
posted 1/14/19

To Whom it may concern:

My home is up behind the Polo Fields on Polo Pt.  As all of you know, anyone that lives in this vicinity,  or anyone that has had to travel through it, has been adversely affected by the expanded use of the polo fields by the Surf Cup.  We have consistently reported on the increased noise, traffic, dust, and dirt that the large amount of people, activities and cars this organization has brought to our backyards. But this note is about something new that is happening on the fields. There now seems to be some kind of games going on in the evenings- with bright stadium- like lighting!  I called the city about this months ago and was told the lights have always been there and that they are there to enable underprivileged children to play football on Friday nights.  As charitable (and irrelevant)  as that sounds-  it is not the case- these lights are on during the weeknights and it is adults who are using the fields.  These lights shine directly into my kitchen and bedroom windows - see photo above. 

I have been trying to adopt a positive attitude about the activities on the fields.  Rob Haskell (of SurfCup) has been extremely responsive in the past when I have had to call him due to excessive noise coming from the announcers or music on the fields.  But now these lights really seem to be pushing the envelope and insult even further- neither I,  nor my neighbors,  should have  to feel like we are living at the end of an airport runway.

I appreciate your consideration and response.

Sue Carr


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