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Environmental groups and popular camping spot at odds over Mission Bay development

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SAN DIEGO -- The Santa Clara Recreation Center in Mission Bay was the venue for a city-run meeting between environmentalists and supporters of Campland on the Bay, a popular camping destination in the northeast area of Mission Bay.

Campland is asking the City of San Diego for a five-year lease to continue operating its facility and to expand operations into the former mobile home park next door at De Anza Cove.

Years ago, the city cleared out residents to make way for redevelopment. The area remains a virtual ghost town where hundreds of mobile homes sit idle on the site.

Campland is offering to remove some of the mobile homes and clean the area. In exchange, it wants permission to use the land as additional housing for visitors and locals who want to enjoy activities near and on the water.

"This will provide crucial access that so many families have been enjoying for generations, it allows them affordable access to the coastline," said Jacob Gelfand, who is part of the family that operates Campland on the Bay.

Environmental groups such as the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the San Diego Audubon Society and Rewild Mission Bay say the five-year lease could slow down efforts to restore marshland in that part of Mission Bay.

"It's going to make it more difficult to go forward a lot of the revitalization plans that are going to be best for the city, bay and our parks for next 80 years," said Tommy Hough, with Rewild Mission Bay.

Both sides agree there is still time to find a compromise considering the city has no firm timeline to do the restoration work.

The city is considering several hiking trails and other amenities in the area once the area is restored to its natural habitat.

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