Midway Planners Forced to Hold Special Meeting to Approve City’s Last-Minute Changes

by on September 12, 2018 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

To borrow one of Yogi Berra’s timeless comments, it must have felt like “déjà vu all over again” for the Midway Community Planning Board on Monday, September 10, when they found themselves voting to approve a final draft of their community plan – one that they voted to approve on the 21st of last March.

The OB Rag’s story dated March 27 described the final vote and the schedule that was supposed to follow: to the Planning Commission on April 26, to the Smart Growth and Land Use committee on May 24, and to City Council for final approval on June 26.  That schedule got derailed. The derailment was the City’s Land Use Subcommittee and that was reflected in the Rag’s July 23rd story.  Seemed that councilmember Zapf wanted a number of things looked into that put the brakes on approval.

According to Cathy Kenton, the Midway Planning Board chair, the special meeting had to be called because of the city’s poor handling of the process. The board’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting is coming up in a little over a week on September 18th.  Because last minute changes were dumped on her only the previous week, while she was away in Boston, and she was told the new changes and the community plan would be going to city council on September 17, she had to call a special meeting.  Kenton did not hesitate to express her displeasure in how this was handled and questioned why, after all of this time, there was a rush to vote on the plan giving Midway little time to review the new changes and consider them.

A Document Edits List contained the changes to various sections of the plan.  The five page document contained quite a few edits to the formerly approved plan language. Some of the changes were puzzling but the ones that concerned the Navy got the most attention.

Kenton had a problem with two changes that the board eventually voted to edit and approve.  Original language had strikethroughs and new language was originally underlined – where we now italicize. The first problem was the following language :

Support live/work in Urban Industrial designated areas to support artisans and innovators. Consult and coordinate with the U.S. Navy regarding proposed development projects or public improvements in proximity to NBPL properties.

The Navy’s concern was that this appeared to indicate that any developments planned “in proximity” to Navy Base Point Loma or NBPL properties had to be cleared with the Navy.  The SPAWARS complex on Pacific Highway is actually part of NBPL.  According to a Navy representative in attendance, this is already a state law, he cited state laws 1462 and 1468.  The board edited the change to state that developments would comply with the two state laws.

The second area of concern was the following:

Maintain the presence of the NBPL – SPAWAR complex in the community as the U.S. Navy’s premier research and development facility.  Support the continuation of military uses on NBPL property in the Kurtz District.

A. Should the U.S. Navy elect to redevelop the existing NBPL – SPAWAR complex undertake development on its property in the Kurtz District, encourage the Navy to consult the Community Plan’s vision of development that could serve as the district’s focal point of the district while maintaining security and, as well as policies regarding pedestrian-oriented urban design and mobility improvements.

B. Consult and coordinate with the U.S. Navy regarding any proposed development projects or public mobility and streetscape improvements adjacent to the NBPL – SPAWAR complex along Pacific Highway and Witherby Street to achieve improvements without compromising the security of NBPL facilities.

The board decided not to accept most of this and instead agreed to accept only the following:

“encourage the Navy to consult the Community Plan’s vision of development that could serve as the district’s focal point of the district while maintaining security and, as well as policies regarding pedestrian-oriented urban design and mobility improvements.”

There were three other changes involving the Navy that did not draw criticism.  One other edit was as follows:

Support small lot development within residential areas. Support the presence of the NBPL – SPAWAR facility in the community.

The words stricken were taken out by the board.

There were quite a few other changes that did not involve the Navy and did not appear to concern the Midway board.  Some had to do with public views, others involved mobility recommendations, and one involved a funding mechanism for improvements in the Midway district called an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District or EIFD.

The plan goes to city council for approval on Monday, September 17 at 2:00.  Anyone interested in Midway development was encouraged to attend.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Joe September 13, 2018 at 12:56 pm

They focused on these small issues from the Navy while ignoring that this plan will open the Midway up for massive redevelopment that will forever change the area and which will have huge impacts on Point Loma and OB.


Molly September 13, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Thank you Geoff for staying on top of the Midway-Pac hwy planning committee’s latest.


Geoff Page September 13, 2018 at 2:55 pm

OB Joe, they focused on what they had to. There has been a lot of upset about massive development coming in the Midway area but people need to understand, the plan is a 30 year document. Midway currently has very little residential property and the plan changes that, re-zoning some industrial and commercial areas for that. At the moment, the only development planned is the old Post Office and it needs something. I think people are getting prematurely worried. We will see.


Geoff Page September 13, 2018 at 2:56 pm

Thank you, Molly. Credit Frank for wanting to include broader coverage in The OB Rag.


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