Polo Club, city hold ‘positive’ first meeting to discuss interim lease


By Joe Tash

Representatives of the San Diego Polo Club and the city of San Diego held an initial meeting Tuesday, Oct. 16, to discuss an extension of the club’s lease for the city-owned property it occupies at El Camino Real and Via de la Valle.

Club officials met with Jim Barwick, director of the city’s real estate assets division, to discuss the lease extension. The club’s 26-year lease expired in March, and since then it has occupied the property on a month-to-month basis.

“It was a very positive meeting, and what both sides are working towards is an interim lease, a 36-month interim lease and we’re confident we’re going to be able to get that knocked out within the next 60 days,” said Steve Lewandowski, a club spokesman.

The city announced last year that rather than negotiate exclusively with the polo club on a new lease, it would open up the bidding to other groups. However, the issuance of a request for proposals from prospective bidders was delayed due to a pending project to widen El Camino Real.

The road project will take three to five years to complete, and will likely require the use of a slice of frontage property from the parcel now occupied by the polo club. Because of the property issue, and disruptions likely to occur during construction, the city put delayed efforts to find a long-term tenant for the property.

Although club officials have said they would prefer a long-term deal, they said an interim lease will allow them to maintain operations.

“It wasn’t helping either side to continue with this uncertainty. The polo club has some deferred maintenance that needs to be addressed and some groups that want to sublease the property, and we couldn’t get back to them because we weren’t sure if we were going to be there next year or not,” Lewandowski said.

The club has occupied the 80-acre property since 1986. Along with polo matches and training, the club also leases out the property for such events as the Surf Cup youth soccer tournament and lacrosse tournaments. Under the old lease, the club paid just under $10,000 per month in rent. Neither side has commented on whether the rent is likely to change under an interim lease.

A date has not been set for the next meeting, Lewandowski said.