Senate Approves Development on Famosa Slough

Times Staff Writer

The Senate Wednesday narrowly passed a bill that would strip away Coastal Commission jurisdiction and allow a condominium development on part of the Famosa Slough wetlands near Ocean Beach.

Following the 22-7 vote, the bill by Assemblyman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) was sent back to the Assembly for agreement on some minor changes.

Assemblywoman Lucy Killea, who last year engineered the narrow defeat of a similar bill on the final day of the legislative session, said she sees little chance of blocking the bill this time.

“I’ll just vote against it. I doubt that I’ll even talk against it,” said Killea, who represents the area where the wetlands is located.

The 20.4-acre marsh--considered an eyesore or a natural paradise, depending on the beholder--has been the subject of an intense battle here the past two years.


Although San Diego County environmentalists still oppose the bill, Costa won crucial support from state agencies charged with preserving coastal resources and protecting wildlife habitats by requiring that the undeveloped portion of the marsh be upgraded and maintained, partly at the developer’s expense.

Under the bill, which required 21 votes in the 40-member Senate, the state Department of Fish and Game and the state Coastal Conservancy will determine later whether development should be limited to as few as five acres or allowed on as much as 10.

A rival bill by Killea, that would have limited the proposed condominium complex to six acres of the marsh, was killed in June by the Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee. Besides setting an absolute limit on how much of the wetlands could be built on, Killea’s bill would continued to permit the Coastal Commission to enforce its strict development policies pertaining to the property.

Over Killea’s objections, the Assembly passed Costa’s bill 50-21 on June 26.

Developer Terry Sheldon, who has an option to purchase the parcel along West Point Loma Boulevard, plans to build a 400-unit condominium complex.