As the city of San Diego considers who should use the polo fields, its request for proposals was recently extended for 30 days. The new deadline is 4 p.m. Oct. 14. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek
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RFP for polo field lease extended

REGION — A request for proposals for a potential new tenant on land best known as the polo fields was extended for 30 days after an interested party requested additional time.

The proposer said a site visit raised “many previously unconsidered questions,” resulting in a need for more information to “assemble a viable proposal.”

The new deadline is 4 p.m. Oct. 14. After that the city will convene a five-member review panel to assess all submissions. The final decision will be made by the San Diego City Council.

The San Diego Polo Club, the current tenant, has submitted a proposal.

“Polo would certainly like to be there,” said Steve Lewandowski, community relations director for the club and match announcer for the past 25 years. “We’ve been there for 29 years. This would give us a lot more ability to plan ahead.”

A 120-acre site on the corner of Via de la Valle and El Camino Real was deeded in 1982 to the city of San Diego as mitigation for open space lost when increased residential development was allowed in the river valley.

In October 1984 it was divided into two usable parcels. Sixty acres were designated for a polo facility and 20 were authorized for an equestrian center. The other 40 acres were to remain open space.

In 1986 the San Diego Polo Club entered into a 26-year lease, which expired on

March 31, 2012.

Because the property hadn’t been out to bid for more than two decades, city officials felt doing so was appropriate. But an RFP was never issued, primarily because of an ongoing project to widen El Camino Real.

Since then the polo club has occupied the property on a month-to-month basis. Polo classes, charity fundraisers, soccer and lacrosse tournaments, sporting games for college recruitment, seasonal sales, horse boarding and youth soccer practice also take place at the site.

Those activities have come under fire from environmental groups such as the Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley. They say the current uses, along with the traffic and noise they generate, are negatively impacting the river valley.

According to the RFP, San Diego’s Real Estate Assets Department is seeking proposals to lease the property for activities, programs and operations in accordance with the deed.

Each proposal should reflect the city’s goal to have an operator who provides a high level of service to the public and provides related activities in a fiscally responsible manner that preserves and improves the site as a community resource.

Only terms of 10 years or more will be considered, although a longer lease may be available depending on the proposal and potential capital improvements.

“Now it seems the Friends and the public must depend on the City’s Proposal Selection Committee to stand behind their written intent to pick a proposal that will ‘serve the needs of the local and regional community’ without jeopardizing public open space and its value to the San Dieguito River Valley habitat and local families,” the Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley states on its website.