Besides breathing a collective sigh of relief that our computers turned from 1999 to 2000 without the world ending (and that the media would no longer be dominated by that story), what else was happening in 2000? Well for one, I was hired as the Park’s new Environmental Planner eager to take on new projects for a worthy public cause. As I began my new career at the San Dieguito River Park in March 2000, I was immediately immersed in permitting and environmental compliance for several new projects.
The year represented an increasingly productive time in San Dieguito River Park history including planning a 10-mile long segment of the Coast to Crest Trail in the San Pasqual Valley, designing the Hodges Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge, and planning for restoration and new trails at the San Dieguito Lagoon. “What fun!” I thought, “Getting permits for building new trails will be easy compared to what I had been working on as a consultant.” In 2000 the River Park had amassed a respectable sum of grant funds to pay for these new projects. Having in-house expertise has enabled the River Park to do much of the analysis, documentation, leg work, permit compliance, and some design with its own staff rather than hiring out for all that work. In 2000, the Final Environmental Impact Report for the San Dieguito Lagoon restoration was certified by the JPA as well as the Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Mule Hill/San Pasqual Trail. Although challenging to plan and build then, these new projects are success stories today.
Also happening in 2000, battle lines formed just east of I-15 at Lake Hodges about a proposal to build a golf driving range on public land in the San Pasqual Agricultural Preserve. The River Park joined many others in a losing battle to preserve the land use plan for San Pasqual Valley and keep the floodplain just south of Via Rancho Parkway from being developed. A few years later, the City Council downzoned the Valley to prevent further development of its agricultural open space. Today, the Agricultural Preserve continues to thrive with new wineries, organic farms, and hops producers.