Two years after being shut down because of budget cuts, the Kumeyaay Lake campground in San Diego's Mission Trails Regional Park was reopened on Friday just in time for the summer vacation season.
The reopening of the campsite, which was allocated nearly $140,000 in this year's budget, was the latest sign of how the economic recovery has breathed new life into San Diego's budget.
After nearly a decade of budget cuts, growing revenues from retail, tourism and real estate taxes are funding the restoration of services that were slashed during the recession, ranging from longer library hours to sidewalk repairs.
San Diego City Councilmember Scott Sherman, who has a reputation as being one of the City Council's toughest budget hawks, used a bolt cutter to chop the locks off the gates from the campgrounds, which is now open for day use Mondays through Thursdays and overnight camping on Fridays and Saturdays.
"The reopening of the campgrounds marks a great day for our city and community,” said Sherman, whose district includes Mission Trails. Sherman -- the driving force behind restoring the funding -- camped in the area as a youth even before it became a regional park.
The campground, which includes 46 tent sites, was once a site where Cub Scouts made the transition to Boy Scouts and local schools held overnights for sixth-graders. But camping was slashed from four nights a week to just Fridays and Saturdays at the depth of the recession in 2009 and was closed to weekend camping two years later.
Then-Mayor Bob Filner included funds for reopening the campsite in an initial version of last year's budget, but then cut the funding and shifted the money elsewhere, which Sherman suggests was payback for his opposition to some of the mayor's programs.
This year's budget includes $139,653 for the campground, which will cover the salary of a full-time park ranger and half-time manager of the site's recreation center as well as some relatively minor upkeep expenses. The city expects to recover $40,000 per year through camping fees at the site, which in its heyday often had long waiting lists for tent sites.
Former Mayor Dick Murphy, City Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner, Councilmember Lorie Zapf and former Councilmember Jim Madaffer also attended the reopening. Zapf called it a "great example of how the city can afford to invest in the services we need."