Councilwoman Campbell Visits Midway Planners – Announces City Issued RFP for Sports Arena Area

by on July 1, 2019 · 8 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

An appearance by District 2 Councilperson Dr. Jennifer Campbell was clearly the highlight of the Midway-Pacific Planning Group meeting on June 19.  As recounted in the last article about this group, the regular monthly meetings are now held at the Bay City Brewery, courtesy of the brewery owners.  The location presented some audio challenges on the 19th but Dr. Campbell seemed to take them in stride during her appearance.

Yet, the meeting room has a large garage-style roll up door and a regular door to the outside. And the noise from large trucks on Hancock Street, from young guys revving up dirt bikes in the parking lot, probably from a repair shop next door, barking dogs, and delivery trucks, made it difficult to hear or be heard. This was the noisiest of the three meetings the group has held at the brewery so far and it seemed to be noisiest when Dr. Campbell was there.

Dr. Campbell was not at the meeting for any special event, she came to a regular meeting at the request of the group.  She made a similar appearance at the Peninsula Community Planning Board’s February meeting.  Neither of the past two councilpersons, Zapf or the mayor, attended a regular planning board meeting in the 13 years of this reporter’s experience with the PCPB at least. Dr. Campbell has done it already in the first seven months of her first year in office.

The Councilperson started by recapping what the council and her office are working on. She announced that the city is finally getting rid of Civic San Diego – the organization that replaced the Center City Development Corporation.  A stake has finally been driven into the heart of this organization that wielded unprecedented, independent power in the development process.

City Issued RFP for Sports Arena Area

Dr. Campbell talked about what the city has planned for the Sports Arena and leases for adjoining properties.  The city owns the land the arena and adjoining businesses sit on such as Dixieline Lumber.  She said the city has already put out a Request For Proposal, or RFP, for the Sports Arena and the area around it-  meaning the big parking lot.  This was a surprise.

The Midway group’s new community plan was approved last year after many years of work.  It contains the city properties that the city said, at the time, it had no real plan for. The news of the RFP seemed to surprise everyone.  Dr. Campbell said the RFP was to get ideas for what to do with the properties.  While this may be true and the city is not seeking a development deal, this kind of thing makes people unnecessarily uneasy.  Unnecessary because if the city was more transparent about what it does and had made sure the public was aware of the RFP process, suspicions about what the city may ultimately do with the Sports Arena could be allayed.

What the City Is Doing on Homelessness Issue – Plus Perceptions and Reality

Dr. Campbell mentioned that the city had opened a fourth shelter for the homeless and that they are also using the second floor of Golden Hall to house homeless women and children. Dr. Campbell spoke about the safe parking lot at the stadium and the success it was having moving people into permanent housing, 57% of the people within six months of coming to the lot.  She honestly admitted the actual numbers are low and acknowledged what everyone does, it is not a simple thing to fix.

One of the group’s members asked a question that is difficult for anyone to answer –  how can we prevent more homeless from coming to San Diego from other parts of the country?  It is a legitimate concern for many people. Dr. Campbell gamely tried but there is no easy answer for that. The public perception is that the homeless are coming here in droves.  The reality, according to Lisa Halverstadt’s Voice of San Diego article, does not match perception.

Midway has a serious homeless problem and there seems to be a discussion about it almost every meeting. They even held a special meeting to discuss just that issue that was attended by Zapf and the mayor’s short-lived homeless csar.  Worrying about any more people coming, if even only a few, is understandable given what Midway is already dealing with.

Dr. Campbell’s appearance was clearly appreciated by the group.  More time would have been nice, but she did take time to come, was pleasant, fielded questions, and gave honest answers.

“Quiet Zone” Corridor

After Dr. Campbell departed, the regular meeting commenced. Her representative, Josh Coyne, remained and provided a bit more of an update, the main item being a quiet zone that is being worked on for a section of the railroad through downtown north to India Street.  The idea is to eliminate train signaling noise.  The corridor now has a lot of residential living nearby.

One Midway group member, Jerry Rivero, is spearheading an effort to get this zone extended up to Old Town creating a long stretch of railroad where no horns would be used.  The part Coyne spoke about will require $4.5 million to make the necessary signal and crossing changes that will be needed if horns are quieted.  Obviously, extending the quiet zone to Old Town would add to that tab.

MTS Half Cent Sales Tax

During the government reports Nathan Fletcher’s representative, Emily Wier, said that the Metropolitan Transit System was seeking to have a one-half cent sales tax put on the ballot that Fletcher is supporting.

Senate Bill 330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019

Chevelle Tate for state senator Tony Atkins discussed Senate Bill 330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, that is moving in the legislature.  Part of the bill is intended to encourage cities not to make development any harder than necessary.  The bill is opposed by many planning groups because it purports to streamline development to the detriment of local communities in the cause of building more housing.

One area of concern to San Diego was a rumored proposal to allow the city council to override the 30-foot height limit. Language was added to the bill to ensure that will not happen.  Only a vote of the electorate can change the height limit

Tate also announced a donation drive called “Skivvies For Stand Down” that is encouraging people to donate undergarments for the homeless. Donations can be dropped off at a whole list of places that can be seen on the senator’s website.

Navy Seeks Public Private Partnership for NAVFAC (Formerly SPAWARS) Property

The Navy’s representative, Muska Laiq, provided a bit of news about the old SPAWARS site, now called NAVFAC.  The Navy put out an RFP some months ago to get ideas for what to do with the property seeking a Public Private Partnership or PPP.  This would allow the Navy to give up a large chunk of the property to a private developer in exchange for a free new building.

This is what is happening downtown on Harbor and Broadway where Doug Manchester has such an agreement with the Navy.  Laiq said the Navy is now also considering using its own funds to redevelop the site.  The mayor and the head of SANDAG have put in a proposal to use the site as a new Grand Central Station transportation super hub. That is puzzling because both the city and SANDAG are public agencies so it is not clear where the “Private” in the PPP will come from.

Lastly, there are two items that are open for public input:

  • One is an Environmental Impact Report out for 30 days of public review for Transit Priority Housing proposed by the city.
  • The other is the Port of San Diego’s new master plan that is open for comment until July 31.


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

ZZ July 1, 2019 at 11:38 am

“The public perception is that the homeless are coming here in droves.”

Three things are happening:

1. People intent on moving here without a definite plan run out of money and become homeless. If you see someone sleeping in a car with out of state plates, this is the typical story.

2. People with drug addictions go to treatment centers, but when their insurance covering the cost of it runs out, they are kicked out and become homeless.

3. The “gutter punk” subculture of traveling young homeless people goes up and down the coast, with San Diego the southernmost stop.


Frank Gormlie July 1, 2019 at 11:47 am

Perhaps if the Midway planners had read this Voice of SD article (or the OB Rag repost of it) they would have seen:
“Last month, San Diego officials started accepting bids to run Pechanga Arena – the Midway district venue long known as the Sports Arena – where the current operator, AEG, pays roughly $800,000 a year in rent. ”

Now, an RFP for the Arena has to include the parking lot, one would think. But the city has been stalling on this issue for months and months.


Paul Webb July 1, 2019 at 2:28 pm

Geoff, again the communities owe you for your dedicated attendance at and reporting of community planning board meetings. You do a great service for us. Ignore the blowback you get from all the naysayers who just want to trash you.


Geoff Page July 1, 2019 at 4:14 pm

Thanks, Paul, I appreciate that. Let’s share the credit with Frank too, he wanted the coverage for his readers. As for the naysayers, after 46 years in the construction industry, I have a very thick skin. I just hope we convey some information folks find useful, I can’t ask for more than that.


Nicole Ueno July 1, 2019 at 2:48 pm

I did not see an RFP for the Sports Arena development listed on the City’s Bids & Contracts Portal. Interested to see it. Does anyone have verification or a link?


Geoff Page July 1, 2019 at 4:02 pm
Nicole Ueno July 1, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Thanks Geoff! The RFP deadline was back in May – I’m looking forward to when the City’s Real Estate Assets Department recommends a proposal to the City Council, and the contents of that proposal become public record.


Geoff Page July 1, 2019 at 5:02 pm

Glad to help, Nicole. I read through the RFP and it looks pretty risky for someone to take on for just three years. This may be the city’s way to make the current leaseholder up the ante.


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