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Image of the artistic fence installed at Pond 20.

Pond 20


Pond 20 is a parcel of land, located between Palm Avenue and the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge in south San Diego Bay. The Port is analyzing the potential development of 83.5 acres of it as a wetlands mitigation bank - one of many ways the Port is ensuring San Diego remains a vibrant resource and contributes to a healthy and sustainable waterfront for visitors and residents for generations to come.

Pond 20 Stats

90+years of industrial salt extraction (1870s to 1960s)


1998year the Port purchased the site


Pond 20 Timeline

January 2012
January 2012

The Board of Port Commissioners adopts a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Port and the cities of San Diego and Imperial Beach to explore uses for Pond 20.

April to December 2012
April to December 2012

The Port conducts public workshops and outreach meetings, and collects letters of interest, to receive input and feedback for ideas for potential projects for Pond 20.

November 2013
November 2013

The Port releases conceptual designs to the public for an artistic fence to replace a chain-link fence around Pond 20 and solicits public feedback via email.

October 2014
October 2014

The Port begins installation of the artistic fence.

April 2015
April 2015

The Port celebrates the completion of Pond 20’s artistic fence.

July 14, 2015
July 14, 2015

The Board:

  • Directs the study of a land-use plan for the 95 acres of Pond 20 that will benefit Imperial Beach, the City of San Diego, and our entire region.
  • Directs staff to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for mitigation banking for the Port or a developer to create a mitigation bank.
  • Votes to establish the “Pond 20 Economic Development Fund”.
October 2015
October 2015

The Port issues an RFP seeking qualified consultants and/or developers to establish a wetlands mitigation bank at Pond 20.

November 17, 2015
November 17, 2015

By Resolution 2015-151, the Board adopts BPC Policy No. 774, the Pond 20 Economic Development Fund. Pursuant to Board Policy 774, certain funds from mitigation banking on Pond 20 will be deposited into a Pond 20 Economic Development Fund for potential future projects to be approved by the Board of Port Commissioners which are consistent with the Port Act.

December 8, 2015
December 8, 2015

The Board directs staff to conduct additional due diligence, which includes a review of the long-term maintenance and protection of a mitigation bank and related agency approvals, market analysis of current demand for mitigation credits, and refined cost estimates including the use of excess soil generated from the mitigation bank for use on other Port projects.

June 15, 2016
June 15, 2016

A Mitigation Ad-Hoc Committee is formed to continue the due diligence efforts and to validate assumptions that a mitigation bank would be successful at Pond 20. The Committee meets on three occasions to evaluate the strengths, risks, and uncertainties associated with creating a mitigation bank.

November 8, 2016
November 8, 2016

The Board authorizes an agreement with Great Ecology for $640,220 to prepare drawings and mitigation banking documents for a mitigation bank at Pond 20. Additionally, the Board approves commencing environmental and California Coastal Act review for Pond 20 and the two adjacent development parcels.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the proposed long-term plan for Pond 20?

The proposed long-term plan calls for:

  • An 83.5-acre parcel in the center of the site for potential mitigation banking
  • A 3.1-acre parcel on the western edge is designated commercial to complement the new Bikeway Village
  • A 7.9-acre parcel on the eastern edge is designated for low-intensity commercial development.

What are the next steps?

The following is an estimated time frame to complete the mitigation banking process for Pond 20:

  • Q1 2018 – Initiate environmental review
  • Q1 2018 – Obtain Army Corps of Engineers(ACOE)-approved wetlands jurisdictional determination
  • Q1 2018 – Submit final prospectus to the ACOE and Interagency Review Team
  • Q2 2018 – Conduct soil sampling and analysis to determine fill reuse options
  • Q2 2018 – Review 60% design and construction documents
  • Q2 2018 – Submit draft banking enabling instrument to the ACOE
  • Q2 2018 – Solicit for final design of mitigation bank
  • Q4 2018 – Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) approval for site-specific reuse of soil
  • Q1 2019 – Final design
  • Q2 2019 – Complete environmental review
  • Q3 2019 – Submit permit applications to the ACOE and RWQCB
  • Q1 2020 – Complete Coastal Act Permitting
  • Q2 2020 – Construction Contracting
  • Q3 2020 – Start Construction

How can the public continue to have input into this process?

The public can provide input at meetings of the Board of Port Commissioners, which are publicly noticed on the Port of San Diego website. In addition, the future project would undergo environmental review, which offers additional opportunities for public input.

What was Pond 20 before the Port bought it?

Pond 20 was created as part of the salt evaporation and extraction industry, which began operating in south San Diego Bay in the early 1870s. The “Saltworks,” as the Western Salt Company operation was known, included a large complex of networked condensation and crystallization salt evaporator ponds—a portion of the Saltworks is still in operation today, located to the northeast of Pond 20. Saltworks operations at Pond 20 ceased in the 1960s, and the site has remained vacant. The site was purchased by the Port in October 1998 as a part of the 1,400-acre Western Salt Company land acquisition. Of the 1,400 acres, more than 1,275 acres were transferred to the State of California as offsite mitigation for the expansion of Terminal 2 at San Diego International Airport, formerly known as Lindbergh Field, and ultimately led to the creation of the South San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The remaining acres were set aside for future development and subject to the Public Trust Doctrine. When the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (Airport) became a separate agency in January 2003, Senate Bill 1896 provided for the Port to retain ownership of Pond 20, by reimbursing the Airport $3.33 million plus interest for the land.

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