Midway Development or Paradigm Shift?

by on September 25, 2018 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

Editordude: The following unsolicited opinion post does not necessarily reflect the views of the OB Rag staff.

By Michael Winn

In press releases published in local media, we are told we MUST build to accommodate “growth”. Perhaps, Douglas Manchester brought down commandments from Mt. Palomar, carved by God herself onto stone tablets, now guarded within a sacred arc of the covenant by disciples at the Lincoln Club, downtown.

But in reality, the Midway “update” is based on priorities of few businessmen and the City of San Diego’s budget director (with Spawar in the shadows), and their plan for Midway is more problematic for San Diego residents than the County’s brilliant housing plan, which was brought to a halt last week in Superior Court. The County case concerns a so-called, “Climate Action Plan”, which allows developers to offset greenhouse gas emissions here by purchasing carbon credits out of the county. Underlying the plaintiff’s (Sierra Club) argument is a reasonable concern that there is no protection for the local environment of those who live in that environment, and who would be harmed by the development.

This same question is at the heart of concerns about Midway. The potential harm of adding 30,000 residents to Point Loma, an already built-out community, outweighs any economic benefits for Point Loma or for the City of San Diego, and this can’t be offset by carbon credits, nor any other imaginable advantage for others.

What is the purpose of development here, if not to enhance our quality of life?

When a proposed development allows environmental harm and diminishes our quality of life, even though we can mitigate global impact on climate change by reducing emissions elsewhere, what good is this to us, when our quality of life is diminished?

The Midway plan promises to exacerbate all of our problems: water, waste, traffic congestion, schools, parks, pollution, public safety and so on. And costs will only increase over time.

Should we allow publicly owned land to be developed in a way that diminishes quality of life? Do we owe lenders and outside investors, or even the City, an opportunity to cash in at the expense of residents, who would have to pay increased fees for water, infrastructure and personal healthcare burdens caused by pollution and traffic congestion? Where’s the enhancements of residents’ quality of life?

This is similar to the question of building on a shield volcano on Hawaii, or on flood plains in Louisiana, Houston and North Carolina or populating forested watersheds of Northern California? If development diminishes our quality of life and/or makes millions vulnerable to fatal catastrophe, unless Kevin Faulconer can actually produce biblical tablets ordaining growth, we shouldn’t do it.

We have the ability now, to calculate the burden of human development on ecological systems and resources. We can also gauge whether a proposed development enhances or diminishes our quality of life. To make such findings we have to assess the local capacity for growth, and we must also survey local residents about their priorities about quality of life.

Neither the Midway update, nor the SANDAG process that produced the County’s “Climate Action Plan”, assessed the capacity of local ecological systems, nor priorities of local residents, because the SANDAG process and City’s focus is on priorities of their economic goals and on the false premise that “growth” is necessary and cannot be limited. If you’ve been been here for any length of time you know that “growth” is merely a justification for quick profits. But there are limits and we needn’t wait till we are as polluted and congested as Beijing, Hong Kong or Los Angeles to draw the line.

The implacable reality of climate change has trumped the bankrupt theories of growth this city has been following for decades. Climate change and a rising sea level, growing poverty, homelessness and social discontent are becoming horrific. The absurdity of an airport that was built for 500,000, struggling to serve a community of 3.5 million is felt in noise and pollution that blankets the peninsula.

We can no longer afford to continue to make this kind of mistake and Midway is as good a place as any to make the pivot. The political dinosaurs that led us to this point are dying off. Their lives may be over but our great-grandchildren’s are in the crucible.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Cheryl September 25, 2018 at 3:54 pm

How can the” redevelopment ” be stopped?


ZZ September 25, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Fight homelessness by refusing to build housing on giant parking lots!

Fight traffic by forcing residential development into distant suburbs!

NIMBY! Quality of Life!

My house has gone up by $50,000 a year since 2011, and it sure feels great! Sorry other people who want to live in San Diego, BUT I GOT MINE!


Tyler September 26, 2018 at 5:54 am

Oh the irony of that last paragraph. Old progressives are losing touch


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