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Surf Sports Park acquires neighboring property

Surf Sports recently purchased the property adjacent to Surf Sports Park on Via de la Valle.
(Karen Billing)

Surf Sports has purchased the long-vacant property adjacent to Surf Sports Park on Via de la Valle. The $6 million sale closed escrow on April 1.

For several years, Milan Capital Management had been working through the city’s land use entitlement process to seek development approval for the proposed Hacienda del Mar senior living community on the 22 acres at the southeast corner of Via de la Valle and El Camino Real.

“This is a complex site, further complicated by the city’s capital improvement project that will realign El Camino Real and widen Via de la Valle,” said Milan Capital in a statement. “The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board and other community stakeholders graciously participated in meetings and took time to learn about the proposed senior living project and we are grateful for the interest, input and support expressed. After nearly eight years of pursuing necessary approvals, Milan opted to sell the property rather than continue to pursue development.”

Surf CEO Brian Enge said the opportunity to purchase the property was a way to maximize their overall mission in youth sports.

“We believe we have built something incredibly special for the community,” Enge said. “We don’t have specific plans (for the property) at this time but we do know we want to continue to further our mission and give more opportunities to kids. There’s still a massive shortage of fields for kids.”

In addition to being the home of Surf Soccer Club, youth flag football and lacrosse teams, the women’s professional team San Diego Wave also practices at Surf Sports Park.

Surf is currently in the process of applying for a sublicense with the city for a Wave training facility, which would include temporary trailers and the improvement of two soccer fields. Permanent buildings are not allowed on the Surf property, but they could be built on the Milan parcel.

The property is located on agriculturally zoned Prop A land and any development is to be very low-density housing, open space or agricultural use— any more intense development would require a city-wide vote. Surf, like Milan, will also have to contend with the El Camino Real widening. Set to begin construction in 2023, El Camino Real will be elevated out of the 100-year floodplain, widened from two to four lanes and realigned to the east, taking a significant portion of both the Surf and Milan property. The new El Camino Real and Via de la Valle intersection will shift to align with De La Valle Place with a new signal.

Enge said nothing they do with the new property would be more egregious in use than the proposed 200-unit senior housing complex.

“We don’t know what the plans are but we definitely know we’re not building a stadium,” Enge said, addressing rumors that have swirled throughout the community.

There are residents in the neighboring communities who would argue that Surf’s use is already egregious. For the last few years, neighbors have expressed concerns about what they believe to be an intensification of use on land that was meant to remain open space, turning a “quiet rural residential community” into “a major sports and event complex”.

Several neighbors and the San Dieguito Community Planning Group have filed multiple complaints with the city’s Department of Real Estate and Airport Management, Mayor Todd Gloria, the San Diego City Council and County Board of Supervisors.

Neighbors continue to contend that Surf is in violation of the grant deed and that the city is complicit. The grant deed, held by the Fairbanks Polo Club HOA, calls for “passive, non-commercial recreational uses” not involving large assemblages of people or cars and seeks to limit events to only 25 days per calendar year.

Per the website, there were 15 sports tournaments held in 2021 (some over multiple weekends); the 2022 event calendar is not posted. In September, the park will again play host to the San Diego Festival of the Arts.

According to the city, Surf has not violated its lease or grant deed and there are no restrictions on the number of events that can be held a year.


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