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Dogs Vs. Boats: The Future Of Fiesta Island

Boats moored in Mission Bay next to Fiesta Island, May 21, 2019.
Andi Dukleth
Boats moored in Mission Bay next to Fiesta Island, May 21, 2019.

A years-long dispute over a multi-use park at Fiesta Island could be on its way to resolution, though not everyone will be pleased by it.

The San Diego City Council’s Environment Committee is expected to decide at their Thursday meeting whether to greenlight a road through the 90-acre park, which is used primarily as an off-leash dog park. The road would give access to a shoreline that paddler and outrigger boat clubs want to use for storage and launching their boats.

Dogs Vs. Boats: The Future Of Fiesta Island
By Reporter John Carroll Users of a dog park and people who enjoy paddle boats are paying close attention to a city decision on Fiesta Island.

Jean Snow and fellow members of her paddle boat club said it’s getting harder to get access to beaches, where they can launch their boats.

“The places around the bay where this is possible—to have boats stay and be housed—are shrinking, not expanding. And yet paddle sports are expanding tremendously.”

That’s why Snow and other paddlers are in favor of a proposal to build the road, which would bisect the park.

VIDEO: Dogs Vs Boats: The Future Of Fiesta Island

“We need space for paddle sports. And as they keep getting lost—with their losing two spaces down at DeAnza Cove and another place over by the Campland—that’s going to be lost soon to redevelopment,” Snow said.


Snow and her fellow paddlers make up a team of women who’ve survived cancer. The name of their group is Team Survivor.

The road would split the current open space roughly in half. Dog owners who use the park said it would ruin the integrity of the open space.

“Why should taxpayers subsidize somebody’s private boating club when they have other places to go?” said Carolyn Chase, president of the Fiesta Island Dog Owners, or FIDO. Chase said the nearby South Shores beach is far better suited to the paddlers.

“They have the access road, the restrooms, the lighting, the beach,” she said.

But Jean Snow said South Shores is not big enough for the boats that would have to be stored there, and she said it’s too rocky, putting the hulls of the expensive boats at risk.

The city’s Environment Committee is expected to decide whether to approve the building of the road, along with grading it down to the shoreline and constructing a beach for the boats. Whatever decision they make is expected to go before the full city council in June.

In today’s San Diego News Matters podcast: Space for paddle sports or a place for dogs to run free? The fate over Fiesta Island’s multi-use park could soon be decided. Also today, the county takes steps towards cleaner air and federal regulators say San Onofre fuel transfers can resume.