Midway Planners Hear Plans to Re-Develop SPAWAR’s 62 Acres

by on September 25, 2017 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The Midway Community Planning Board members were excited by a presentation at their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, September 20 at the San Diego Community College’s West City Campus on Fordham Street.  The board learned that the huge SPAWAR complex on Pacific Highway is in for a big change.

SPAWAR Buildings

SPAWAR is short for Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. The buildings on Pacific Highway were originally used to build B-24 bombers during WWII, which explains their size.  According to the presenter, they used to ship out one plane every hour at peak production.  The presenter showed some interior pictures of the buildings both to illustrate the size but to also show the small amount of office space created inside the buildings.  The point was to show that the current occupant has no need for so much space.

The plan is to enter a Public Private Partnership, commonly referred to PPP or Triple P, to redevelop the whole 62 acres of prime San Diego real estate. SPAWAR also occupies the parking lots east of the old Midway Post Office. In exchange for new buildings that SPAWAR needs on about 20 acres, private developers will get the other 40 plus acres to redevelop as they see fit.  The presenter likened this to Navy Complex on Broadway downtown where a Triple P is already in place.  There the Navy will get a new building in exchange for giving up the majority of the land it now occupies.  When asked the value of the 62 acres, the presenter said he did not know as it had not been assessed as yet.  This did not seem likely to be true; it should be very easy to estimate the current value of 62 acres in this prime location.

The Navy is putting together an Area Development Plan or ADP that they hope to have out in October.  This did not seem like a lot of notice about this coming in the September board meeting.  The ADP will just be concepts, the whole process in its early stages according to the presenter. There was a liberal amount of PR in the presentation as it was stressed how many jobs SPAWAR brings, how it contributes to the local economy, how it fulfills a vital cyber security function, basically how great it is for the city and the nation. There can be no argument that it does employ a lot of San Diegans and it is a significant part of the city’s economy. And, considering the age and bulk of the buildings, most people would probably welcome some kind of redevelopment.  Hopefully, there will be more detailed information in October.

Homeless Tent at Old Midway Post Office

There was also discussion about the homeless tent that will be erected near the old Midway Post Office to house homeless vets.  The tent is intended to be temporary, “bridge” housing before people move into permanent housing.  Unlike the tents of the past that did not allow people to remain inside all day, this tent will permit such use.

When asked how a “veteran” is defined, the answer was a bit surprising.  Apparently, anyone who has a DD 214 form indicating discharge from active duty qualifies as a vet. This would include someone who only lasted a few days in the service or people who washed out in boot camp.  It was surprising to learn that there was not a more stringent definition such as a person who had served at least one term of duty. The Midway tent will be administered by the Veteran’s Village of San Diego.

Midway Clean-Up

A representative of Councilmember Zapf’s office, Bruce Williams, was present and announced that Zapf had set aside some money for a cleanup effort in the Midway area.  When asked how much money, he said between $10,000 to $15,000, apparently a definite budget was not set yet. Williams said that they plan to partner with Connecting Hope, Urban Corps, and I love A Clean San Diego, all non-profits, to accomplish the effort.  Williams said they needed to hear from these organizations to know how much money would be needed. Williams wanted the board to provide suggestions for areas to clean up.

Glossy Zapf Council Office Newsletter Filled with Photos of Zapf

Williams handed out Zapf’s monthly glossy color newsletter while he was there.  The newsletter showed Zapf had been at National Night Out Pacific Beach and Clairemont and stated she had passed out new neighborhood watch signs in Pacific Beach and “danced all night in Clairemont.”  The inside two pages were devoted to another event, Dog Dayz on the Island, celebrating the special bond between humans and canines and celebrating dogs on deployment.

Then there was Clairemont Family Day.  There were 17 pictures in the newsletter of Zapf with various people.  Finally, on one quarter of the last page was notice of the short term vacation rental ordinance that will come before city council on October 23, the only item of any substance in the whole newsletter.  If this is how the District 2 councilmember spends her time, the citizens of her district are not getting their money’s worth.

EIR for Midway Community Plan 

Vicki White of the Planning Department, announced that the EIR for the Midway Community Plan will be out in November for a 60-day comment period.  The Midway chair objected to the time frame because it involved the holidays and the board does not meet in December.  She asked that the effort be pushed into early next year so there would be time to read the EIR and respond.

Private Security Firm

The chair also reported on the board’s effort to hire a private security firm.  The money was available from a defunct Business Improvement District, or BID, fund.  The board was not able to contract with anyone as planning boards do not have that ability.  Midway went to the city to perform this contracting function, which resulted in the city putting restrictions on the effort that made it untenable for the board.  The main problem was that the city said the security patrol could not enter private property, which as a key component of what Midway wanted to do.  Midway is considering scrapping the whole idea because of this restriction.

Another candidate for the District 2 Council seat, Jordon Beane, announced his plan to run. Information on Mr. Beane can be found on his website at https://jordanbeane.com/.

There was an action item to approve a conditional use permit for the Chevron station on Rosecrans and Midway.  The current station and car wash will be remodeled and will include a convenience store.  Chevron wanted a license to sell wine and beer but it was not possible because the area was already saturated with such licenses.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

P. Coats September 26, 2017 at 4:06 am

Spa Wars! Sounds like a reality show like storage wars. Anywho, kudos to the Navy for looking to give back to the community instead of just hording land they don’t necessarily need. Hopefully, they develop some housing, retail, and parkland; may help with the housing shortages. They will also probably want to develop a business park as it would be prime location next to the Navy for contractors. Maybe even a collage could get some land to expand and partner with the Navy. A lot of possibilities! Just so long as Target doesn’t come sniffing around for a piece of the action.


Jon Carr September 26, 2017 at 11:16 am

Interesting development. As I understand, the SPAWAR site is heavily contaminated and they’ve even had to evacuate workers in the past due to toxic fumes. The Navy has been in the process of cleaning up a number of local contaminated sites, including the gas station at Nimitz/Rosecrans which has/had old leaking tanks from years ago which have leached almost into the bay. I wonder how that will affect appraisals and who would want to live or operate a business on top of an old contaminated navy site.



Geoff Page September 27, 2017 at 12:57 pm

I’m sure you are very correct. I’ve worked in the San Diego construction industry since 1977 and worked on every military facility and every one has contamination. The runways on Miramar are sitting on a puddle of jet fuel. At North Island, they had a fuel truck dumping facility that was a ramp surrounded on three sides by timber and just sand in the bottom. I personally dug up a bunch of old ordiance on North Island. But, the SPAWARS site is so valuable that the cost to mitigate will be easily absorbed I think.


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