Angler, citizen voices heard as another San Diego City Lakes closure threat gets neutralized

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FLASHBACK FISHY- NEAR 10 ON TOP – Back in 2021, Robert Tucker of El Cajon was working a popper at San Vicente Reservoir when this 9-pound, 11-pounce watermelon decided to play ball.
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BY ROB MAGARGAL

We let our voices be heard.

We were once again threatened by the city council and Mayor’s office in San Diego of pending closures of three San Diego city lakes.

This is a recurring theme from City Lakes and the City Council, P.U.D. and the Mayor’s office. It started in 2019 with the lakes being closed an extra day a month.

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They said they needed to save money. The costs were too high to run the program so closing the lakes an additional day would save money.

When we questioned them on that statement they had no actual answers. They only had vague answers without any facts to show us how they produced it.

One of the questions we asked was this. Will there be lake staff on site during these additional closed days? Their answer, yes.

How are you saving money by not having paying customers enter the grounds when you are still paying your employees to be on site? They had no answer for that.

It is as if they thought no one would be paying attention.

Once the pandemic happened in 2020 it was their best chance, and they closed all the lakes. The best social distance program ever and they decided to close them all. I am sorry, you cannot make this stuff up. This is/was our city government make no mistake. No clue of anything past their office doors.

Once they realized what a mistake they made from the thousands of citizens complaining they opened one lake.

Which lake do you think that would be? Of course, one of the smallest, lake Miramar. One that no one pays to enter and within their voting districts. And one with the least social distancing available. Thousands walk, jog and bike on the lake each week. There is no payment required yet the staff must take care of them. Our monies are paying for that. Once again you cannot make this stuff up.

Eventually they opened up the rest of the lakes, be it slowly one at a time.

In 2021 they raised the fee for the people who actually pay to enter. We were all fine with it. Yes, it was a substantial increase however we were told it would offset any expenditure and allow the added open days back into the schedule.

Fast forward to 2024.

By chance we found out that once again they were going to close three lakes within the county. Was anyone going to mention it to the citizens, the bass clubs, the water skiers, and hikers. The bird watchers and weekend anglers who frequent the lakes. Of course not. They only put it in small writing on the website where no one would know. Budget cuts are their reasoning.

We understand the ideals from the budget issues however, we are talking $59K. Nowhere within the city’s multi-Billion-dollar budget could they find $59K?

Not to mention during their budget process they found an additional five million in available funds. Still, they were closing the lakes. El Capitan for the month of January. Hodges an additional month prior to opening for the spring. Sutherland as well plus removing the Friday open day.

Did they think of closing Lake Miramar, Lake Murray? The lakes where basically zero revenue is gained. Of course not. Those lakes are within their voting districts and there would have been hell to pay come their next election cycle.

From this we started a coalition and went straight to the City Council, the City Lakes management, and the mayor. We let our voices be heard that were not taking this laying down.

We also knew we needed to work with the County Board of Supervisors and get their input as it directly affects them for business and tax revenues within the county when the lakes are closed.

These meetings were excellent. They could see right away how this affects them and their citizens. Working with Joel Anderson and his team with the board of supervisors we were able to get something started that would put this issue front and center to the City Council.

Joel Anderson wrote a letter to the mayor of San Diego and the City Council expressing the views of the citizens within the county that his office represents. We were also able to attach ourselves to the letter and 750-plus county citizens attached themselves to the letter.

This also had a profound impact to the rest of the county board of supervisors. From that the county stepped up and passed without hesitation an amendment to their county budget to help fund the remaining $59,000 needed to keep the lakes open in 2025. We cannot thank the County Board of Supervisors and Joel Anderson and his team enough for their efforts. Working with Maggie Sleeper Chief of Staff County Supervisor Joel Anderson. We cannot thank her enough.

As we see it as the citizens who live in the south, east and north counties, it is a serious lack of foresight and understanding within the city council, the PUD and the mayor’s office as it came to the city lakes program and who actually represents the citizens of San Diego.

It became abundantly clear the City Council, the PUD and the mayor’s office had no desire or wanting to do with anything within the counties of San Diego.

Even though we averted this crisis for 2025. We are not stopping until all of the above understand the importance the lakes have to the citizens of San Diego, not just within the city proper, all citizens within the greater San Diego region.

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