Midway Planners: Candidate Barbara Bry, Port District Master Plan and ‘Grand Central Station’

by on July 23, 2019 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

Councilmember Barbara Bry, a candidate for mayor this year, had this to say about the situation downtown, “City Hall, quite frankly, is a mess,” when she came to the Midway-Pacific Community Planning Group’s meeting on July 17.  Those are words that resonate with many people these days, but it has to be kept in mind that this is a candidate for office.

Bry came to the planning board at the invitation of chair Cathy Kenton.  Last month the group hosted Dr. Campbell from District 2.

Bry spoke for some minutes explaining her background and her positions on several things.  For example, she said she was against the city buying the old SDG&E building because it needed work and the city has spent, and is spending, $30 million to renovate it. Bry said she was against land use being dictated from Sacramento referring to several current bills that are intended to help ease the housing shortage.

Councilwoman Barbara Bry at Midway planning meeting, July 17, 2019. Photo by Geoff Page.

Bry said she opposed the idea of allowing the mayor to make a change in the height limit.  This was apparently in an earlier version of the senate bill and it was removed in revisions and amendments. She was also opposed to eliminating the parking regulations stating the common sense logic says people will still have a car and it will go on the street.  All very appealing positions to a lot of people.

The councilmember said more jobs need to be created downtown and referred to proposal to create a tech center downtown at Horton Plaza.  Bry has a background in the tech industry and also used to work as a journalist.

Bry fielded a few questions but had to admit she did not know enough about the Grand Central Station planned for the old SPAWARS, now NAVFAC, location to provide an opinion.  This relatively recent proposal by the mayor and SANDAG to create a Grand Central  Station on the site, with the level of activity implicit in the name, is a concern to the Midway group. Bry’s council district encompasses areas from La Jolla north so her lack of current knowledge about this issue was understandable.

Port District Master Plan

After Bry departed, the Port District’s presentation of its much anticipated Master Plan update was next.  The Port presenters explained the history of the port district.  Established in 1962, its first master plan was approved in 1972.  The plan was certified by the Coastal Commission in 1981 and had been amended 40 times since then.  So, the Port decided an update was in order.

The effort began in 2013 and the work produced a discussion draft that is out now for 90 days of public comment. Unfortunately, the deadline for public comment is July 31. The presenters were questioned about this short fuse and asked how the Port had been letting people know about the comment period because it was a surprise to some of them and others.

The presenter ran down a list of outreach efforts that sounded pretty impressive. The brochure they handed out listed “250 interviews with key stakeholders and partner agencies, 13 open houses and community meetings, 36 public Board workshops, and two online surveys with a combined total of more than 6,300 respondents.” But, but all of it somehow eluded a number of people and not just on the Midway planning group.

The EIR for the plan will be out in the spring of 2020 with the idea of approving it by the fall of 2020. Certification by the Coastal Commission would hopefully be by the end of 2020.

Unfortunately, the presentation was short on details because it sounds like it is not at the detail stage yet.  For more information about the plan go to their website here.

“Grand Central Station”

The subject of the Grand Central Station came up during the chair’s report.  This is a very sore subject with the Midway group in that the city has not had the courtesy to involve the Midway group in any of the discussion or communication about this proposal. They learned about it in the news.  Kenton said she recently received a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, between the SANDAG and the Navy concerning the Grand Central Station proposal.

Kenton expressed that this looked like another something to “stick” in the Midway area as it is considered a place to stick things people don’t want elsewhere. The County Mental Health facility is an example of that kind of thing. The Navy’s representative at the meeting, Muska Laiq, was asked about it and her response downplayed the significance of the MOU saying it was just an agreement to talk more or less, no commitments of any kind.  But, an MOU is not to be dismissed so easily, it is a formal document that begins a process to an end.  What was frustrating for Kenton was there did not seem to be any information on how to comment on the MOU.

Boardmember Judy Holiday expressed distress in what she saw as the big difference between what the mayor was saying about this Grand Central Station idea publicly and what the MOU actually said.  Holiday had read the MOU and listened to the mayor’s remarks and was struck by the disparity.  In a moment of unintended levity, Holiday earnestly asked Laiq if there was any way she could stop the mayor from spreading misinformation.  In fairness to Laiq, that is akin to the age old dreams of turning iron into gold, inventing a perpetual motion machine, and finding the universal solvent.

For more information and to read the MOU, go to the city’s site

Sport Arena Lease

The Sports Arena lease came up for discussion. Josh Coyne, the District 2 representative clarified that the Request for Proposal or RFP is only for the Sports Arena and does not include other businesses on city property around the arena such as Dixieline Lumber. The city has received a few proposals and will make a decision by October.

Midway Fire Station

The Midway group discussed the Midway fire station’s need for remodeling and the group’s efforts to help.  There is about $140,000 available to the Midway group from a defunct business development fund that has been sitting around for years.  The group thought that the fire station would be a good place to spend that money only to run into a legal snag. Apparently, the money cannot be used on city-owned property.

Josh Coyne mentioned that Councilmember Campbell has funds available for request that are usually used for nonprofit work of some kind.  Coyne said that grants of $500 to $2500 can be applied for on the councilmember’s website. There is a menu item “Request CPPS Funds” on the right hand side of the District 2 website.  CPPS stands for Community Projects, Programs and Services.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Geoff Page July 24, 2019 at 12:15 pm

A possible correction to the part of the article about the CPPS grants. According to the document that is the basis for the program, there is a minimum requirement of $1500 for a grant application. The document does not contain a maximum amount. Looking at grants from 2018, they ranged from a low of $332 to a high of $25,000. No explanation for why there were amounts granted under $1500.


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