Comment Period Opens for Midway Community Plan Update EIR

by on January 24, 2018 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

Midway Homeless Veterans’ Tent Not Being Filled

By Geoff Page

Environmental Impact Report for the Midway Community Plan Update

The big gorilla in the room at the Midway Community Planning Board’s regular monthly meeting was a thing called an EIR or Environmental Impact Report.  Anyone who has ever seen one of these documents can attest to the actual weight and complexity of an EIR such that characterizing it as a gorilla is understandable.

As was explained at the January 18 meeting held at San Diego Community College’s West City Campus on Fordham Street, this EIR was done for the Midway Community Plan update.  Midway’s community plan has been in the process of being updated for several years and is finally nearing completion.

The Midway EIR is an analysis of how the updated Midway community plan will affect the Midway area. The EIR is out for public review and comment now. Detailed information can be found here . According to the City’s website, public hearings for adopting the community plan and “associated proposed rezoning” will be held from April to June of this year.

The board members were asked to review different sections and admittedly had not gotten far yet.  The chair, Cathy Kenton, acknowledged it was difficult to review a complicated document like an EIR but impressed on everyone the importance of the review and of getting it done quickly.  The website does not say when public comment ends but does explain the comments received have to be responded to and a Final EIR ready for the April meetings.  It appears public comments would need to be in by some time in March to allow time for the responses and producing a final draft.

There was not a lot of discussion about what is in the EIR because board members had just begun their reviews. One member had read through the noise portion of the EIR and said he had no concerns about what he had seen. He said it was a fascinating and difficult read and said he planned to read through it again to be sure he understood it well.

There was an historical section that generated a little discussion of Midway’s history as marshland and that almost everything built in the area was on fill material. There was some discussion about tandem parking noticed in the document and whether that was for commercial as well as residential parking. There were also questions about the Sports Arena that board members wanted to understand.  The EIR will be discussed in more detail at the February 14 meeting at the community college.

Midway Homeless Tent

The next item of interest at the board meeting was an update on the Midway homeless tent by Officer Surwilo, SDPD’s Community Relations Officer.  He said there have been no problems of any note since the tent has been up.  This tent is for veterans and Officer Surwilo commented that vets are good because they have been vetted before and have access to “benefit resources.”  The term benefit resources was notable, this implied that vets are entitled to military benefits that other homeless do not have and, with help, these resources can be tapped to care for the vets.  This would make it much more cost effective to help the vets than it would be for the general homeless population perhaps without such benefits.

A member of the Midway board heads up the Midway tent effort for the Veterans Village of San Diego. During the discussion, he mentioned that they had filled 128 of the 200 beds.  Not sure of having heard correctly, this reporter asked if he had heard him say 128 beds and he confirmed that.  This seemed surprising since the tent had opened December 22, there had been rain and cold weather, and there are plenty of homeless.

Officer Surwilo, almost as if he heard the unasked question about why were there so many empty beds, provided an unprompted explanation.  He explained that San Diego’s climate had much to do with this.  Surwilo said if this tent was in Boston, there would be a line to get inside.  But here, it is much easier to live outside and not have to subject oneself to the restrictions about drugs and alcohol that are found in the tents. While there is merit to this explanation, it is still difficult to understand why 72 more people could not have been immediately found among the thousands out there.

Proposed Midway Impact Fee Study

There was a presentation by Facilities Financing on draft impact fee studies.  Facilities Financing first explained what it did and this boiled down to collecting various fees like Development Impact Fees, or DIF, and preparing plans for using the money collected.  The money is used based on the City’s General Plan and then on the Midway Community Plan.  Community plans include future wants and desires like parks for example.  The city explained that there are four categories of “qualifying projects,” mobility, parks and recreation, libraries, and fire and rescue, but the money cannot be used for operations and maintenance.

The purpose of the City’s presentation was to explain the schedule for the proposed Midway Impact Fee Study or IFS.  The IFS will contain projects in the Community Plan “or other City policy document” that will be eligible for some of the money. The City’s schedule seemed aggressive. The draft IFS would come to the Midway board in March and by April18, 2018, the city wants recommendations voted on by the board leaving barely a month for board review.  One month later the City Infrastructure Committee will get it and in June, City Council will vote on it. Because of the work the board is doing reviewing the EIR, the chair stated this came at a bad time and would not get the full attention it should.

The Midway IFS could be of interest to the community as this will be how money collected in the Midway area will be used.  To understand Facilities Financing go here . Another link will take you to the Citizen’s Guide to Infrastructure that the presenter stressed as very helpful.

“Lytton Corridor”

Finally, there was a very brief mention of progress on the “Lytton Corridor.” This involves redeveloping the area across the street from the Lytton/Barnett entrance to Liberty Station that houses a smoke shop and other small businesses.  The plan is to build housing for seniors aged fifty-five and up and includes 4,000 square feet of mixed-use space.  Details were not clear but it appeared something like 122 units are involved. The project is presented as a way to clean up this unsavory collection of odd businesses in old buildings and to provide seniors with housing.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie January 29, 2018 at 11:01 am

10News confirms Geoff Page’s assertion that the vets’ tent is not up to capacity; 10News says only about 150 of its 200 beds are filled.


Doug Blackwood January 30, 2018 at 11:57 am

Potential tent residents must be willing to modify their behavior: no drugs or alcohol;
if Vets are willing to change; VVSD can make it happen!


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