Resistance to Port’s Master Plan: ‘It’s Not About Piers for the Wealthy – It’s About a Land and Water Grab’

by on August 28, 2019 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

By Colleen O’Connor /  Times of San Diego / August 27, 2019

If you think that fights over scooters, Airbnb, height limits, infill development, increased density, traffic congestion, and the homelessness are testy — wait for this one.

Remember the early Barrio Logan community standoff with shipbuilders? Or the Lilac Hills push back against a proposed mega-development? How about Bay Ho’s resistance to running the trolley extension in front of their homes? Or the Campland’s quick 5-year lease extension?

Then there are the violations of the Liberty Station lease with no mention of the Rock Church presence to the surrounding homeowners. Or the reversal on preservation of the former Navy chapel now to be a restaurant.

Small wonder voters are angry. Any neighborhood resisting is now dubbed a “stranglehold.”

Yet, the mega feuds are just beginning. The latest one is over the Port of San Diego’s new master plan.

Already the port has received nearly 4,000 pages of reactions to the latest “improvement” plan that hides the ugliness in fine print.

This is not about piers for the wealthy (as suggested in one newspaper’s headlines).  It is about all of the fights in all of the previous communities mentioned above—and more.

It is about the destruction of the character and culture of San Diego neighborhoods. And about the speed with which it is accomplished.

Each of the above mentioned “plans” were rushed rather than reasoned, and hid the most egregious portions in the fine print.

Once discovered, the fights ensued, because no one listened to the residents.

The decisions all appeared as a fait accompli—with “noble excuses” for the rampant growth.

The modus operandi was always the same. Whether for the old Qualcomm Stadium site (no national request for proposals); or the “transit centers” (designed by whom?); or the “housing crisis” (hundreds of infills in only the most desirable neighborhoods); or the now congested downtown skyline (with more condos than class and more problems than solutions).

In short, the city is becoming more like Los Angeles than “Camelot by the Bay”.

But Point Loma is fighting back. And so is Coronado. For them, it could be the biggest battle since the Coronado Bay Bridge replaced the ferries.

After receiving all those written complaints—from outraged property owners, residents, bay walkers, boat enthusiasts, and beachgoers—the port must now listen to those complaints.

Point Loma gets its turn on Wednesday night.

Remember, they are still fuming over the potential destruction of a 1912 Frank Lloyd Wright-designed prairie-style home, and condo development with underwater parking and sea wall that will destroy Kellogg beach.

Now, a previously unscheduled meeting is slated at the Portuguese community center—ground zero for some of the suggested “improvements.”

Mischaracterized as a chance to remove the “docks” or “piers” on a stretch of bay in the La Playa area of Point Loma, the real details are much uglier:

  • An increase of 1,600 new hotel rooms along Shelter Island
  • 70,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space
  • The removal of the current 30-foot height limit
  • A 20-foot wide cement promenade that will replace the dirt paths; probably eliminate the pine trees that provide the rare great blue heron nests; and alter the roads, parking spaces, and entire area from Kellogg Beach to downtown

In short, the new master plan includes the destruction of a neighborhood and a local culture that existed before Shelter Island was dredged.

Walk the area from Kellogg Beach to downtown and see for yourself what is at stake.

Must it all be cement, hotel rooms, and mega development?

Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.

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Avatar Geoff Page August 28, 2019 at 11:36 am

The Port District lost its biggest cash cow when the San Diego Airport was taken away from it. All of this new planning is a way to make up for that revenue. Gonzalez-Fletcher was making noise about returning the airport to the Port last year but it seems to have fizzled. Isn’t it interesting to see this renewed push for development this year?

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