SAN DIEGO — San Diegans, who have been using the Famosa Canyon as a park or bike trail for the last 40 years say they like it the way it is and don't want any new development that would take away from the open space environment. The group "Save Famosa Canyon" is demanding documents from the San Diego Housing Commission about any potential plans for the land.
"We are built out, so we need to have a place for people and animals and things to go,” said Cameron Havlik, a Save Famosa Canyon member.
Havlik loves walking the Famosa Canyon with his family. The Point Loma resident is part of Save Famosa Canyon along with 2,081 members, who since 2018, have been fighting to preserve the environmentally sensitive area that contains a wetland and eucalyptus trees for a monarch butterfly habitat. But the San Diego Housing Commission owns the land and has its own plans for future use.
Now, Save Famosa Canyon is suing the Housing Commission to find out what those plans are.
"It is very much a concern for what they plan on doing and making sure the public still has continued access to the site,” Havlik said.
Attorney Everett DeLano of DeLano & DeLano who is representing Save Famosa Canyon, says the case is about the public records act, and if the Housing Commission entered into an agreement with a particular developer, his clients as taxpayers need to know exactly what is happening.
"The housing commission for some reason, even though we sent a public records request in early February, we sent it on February 3, they are refusing to present many documents, over 6,000 documents. I certainly think it’s not consistent with their legal obligations,” said attorney Everett DeLano.
DeLano listed in a petition for writ of mandate, a letter from April 4, 2022 from the housing commission that stated, “the Housing Authority authorized negotiations over a potential 78-unit affordable housing project on the property."
Another letter from the housing commission says regarding the group's request for "correspondence and notes, memos, and emails,” SDHC objects to your request as overly broad, burdensome, and oppressive. A preliminary search has identified more than 6,150 electronic communications files since December 11, 2020, that include keywords from your requests. A public records request that “compels the production of a huge volume of material may be objectionable as unduly burdensome.”
"We requested documents from the City of San Diego, and the city did produce the documents, but unfortunately, the housing commission refused to produce many documents. They did provide links to certain documents that were available on their website, but other than that, they largely refused to produce anything,” DeLano said.
Save Famosa Canyon filed its lawsuit on April 28.
The San Diego Housing Commission said in a statement, "It does not comment on pending litigation, in deference to the Court."
As a court date is expected to be set in a month, the group is hopeful nothing will happen to their neighborhood canyon.
"As a parent, who is raising two children, high-density housing, parks and open space like this are crucial for their development as children. We got to have places like this, and we got to have open spaces” Havlik said.
WATCH RELATED: Planning board votes to keep Famosa Canyon an open space (Aug. 2019).