Midway Planners Have Many Questions About Community Plan EIR

by on February 19, 2018 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

Green lines approximate historic boundary of Midway planning area. Red is MCRD, blue slashes other planning areas.

by Geoff Page

Midway Planners Unhappy With Peninsula Planners Re Recycling Center Protest

Before diving into a discussion of the ponderous Midway EIR (Environmental Impact Report) at the Midway/Pacific Highway Community Planning Group meeting February 15, the board had something to say to Point Loma.  The board had learned of the recycling center protest and effort to oust Prince Recycling from the Stumps parking lot on Voltaire Street.  The people trying to get the center moved were proposing it be moved behind the Big Lots store in the Midway area.

The Midway planning board was not pleased because no one involved with the effort to move the recycling center contacted them to discuss this idea.  At first, it appeared to them that this was an action by the Peninsula Community Planning Board because the three people heading this effort are PCPB members, one being the chair.  It was explained to them by this reporter and James Hare, the PCPB liaison to the Midway group, that the PCPB had never discussed the matter or taken any action. The perception that the PCPB had acted happened because the three organizers were all identified as PCPB members.

The Midway group voted unanimously to send a letter to the PCPB protesting this idea, explaining that Midway had its own problems and did not appreciate the Peninsula wanting to push its perceived problem over to the Midway district.  The letter went to the PCPB because it is the group that represents Point Loma and three PCPB members are spearheading the effort to get rid of the recycling center.

Official boundaries of Midway District community plan since 1992.

Midway District EIR

The rest of the meeting was devoted to the EIR that the board members had been reviewing for over a month.  The most notable comments from this discussion had to do with information the board did not have.  The missing information was about the city’s future plans for all the land it owns, the land the Valley View Casino Center/ Sports Arena and many surrounding businesses now sit on.  All of those businesses lease the land and, apparently, many of the leases are up in 2020.

The Midway board explained that it had been unable to find out what the city’s plans may be and that made it difficult to review the EIR not knowing what would be happening with a large piece of land central to the Midway District.  The plan does have zoning designations that show what could possibly occur on the city’s land but little more.  Considering that many of the city’s leases are up in two years, it was the board’s belief the city must have some kind of plan in mind by now.

During the discussion, it was mentioned that Ernest Hahn, who has the Sports Arena lease, was attempting to negotiate a five to seven year lease. But, no one had information on the other leases.  Dixieline Lumber was one prominent business name that came up.

Board members expressed some suspicion about what the city might be planning with one member stating “There’s another agenda here.”

Another member wondered about “back door” discussions the city might be having about what to do with the Sports Arena and perhaps the SPAWARS land that the military has proposed turning back over to the community for development.

A representative from District 2 was in attendance and the board asked him to see if a meeting could be set up with the city to find out more.  Although the city had not been forthcoming after other attempts to get information, the board was still willing to pursue this quest in a methodical manner by starting with Councilmember Lori Zapf.

The discussion moved to the EIR. Earlier in the meeting, Vicki White from the city’s planning department, spoke about the timeline for the EIR review process.  She explained that public review and comment would end on February 20.  The next steps would be to go before the Planning Commission in April, to city council subcommittee in late May, and to City Council in June. A second reading of this before city council would take place 30 days after the first consideration by city council.  If all went as planned the new Midway Community Plan would be approved by late summer.

Before the Midway board began its discussion, board chair Cathy Kenton, explained that their “comments” to the planning department needed to be in the form of questions that the planners would have to answer directly.  Kenton said EIR comments would only be marked as “noted” and may or may not generate a response.

The first section discussed was transportation.  It was stated that the two new or extended streets in the community plan, Greenwood and Dutch Flats would be rated as “E” and “F” as soon as they opened.  This did not seem to make much sense to the board.  The grading scale for roads is the same as it was in school, an “F” is a fail and an “E” is right behind it.

Other remarks about the plan were that it did not seem to acknowledge the trolley line and that it did not mention alternative transportation such as shuttles.  There were disappointments regarding busing.  One board member was upset about the collection of bicycle and pedestrian route proposals, specifically, it seemed, because there was insufficient opportunity for input on these proposals.

The Marine Corps Recruit Depot discussion focused first on the question of why the MCRD was included in the Midway plan.  The base historically was not in the planning board’s boundaries, it only bordered on it.  Apparently, the MCRD is 400 acres in size making it now one third of the Midway’s 1,300 acres. The zoning in the plan shows it as military.  Several members wondered why this had happened and there were discussions about what might become of the land if it was released to the city.  A second runway at the airport was mentioned, something that many have often said could happen in the Marines relinquished that land.

Other questions about the EIR included one asking why the zoning code numbers were changing as there did not appear to be an explanation in the EIR.  Tandem parking is a part of the new plan and the board wanted to know if tandem parking actually improved parking in an area.  It was mentioned that the La Playa Trail runs through the area and that it needed to be better identified.  One board member asked why there could not be some land devoted to dog parks as there were none.

The board voted to have the chair draft and send a letter transmitting its questions on the EIR by February 20 when the comment period ends.

Board Election in March

The last item on the agenda was a discussion of the board elections coming in March.  There are seven available seats and the board is encouraging people to get involved and run for a seat.  Voting will take place at the regular March 21st meeting starting at 3:00.

The Midway/Pacific Highway Community Planning Group meets at 3:00 the third Wednesday of every month.  The meetings are held at the San Diego City College – West City Campus, 3249 Fordham Street.


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