Barbara Bry Only Councilmember to Oppose Placing 30 Foot Height Nix in Midway for November Ballot; Gloria Supports Measure

by on May 14, 2020 · 10 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach

The San Diego City Council Rules Committee voted yesterday, May 13, 3 to 1 – with Councilmember Barbara Bry the only ‘nay’ vote – to push Jen Campbell’s measure to rescind the 30-foot height limit in the Midway area towards the November ballot.

The entire Council still needs to vote on it sometime this summer. Councilmember Chris Cate has joined Campbell in recent months pushing the initiative to “open up” the Midway District to more large-scale development.

As KPBS reported, “Councilwoman Barbara Bry, in the midst of a mayoral campaign, voted against putting the measure on the ballot, arguing it was not an urgent need for the city,….” Bry’s opponent for mayor is Assemblymember Todd Gloria, who supports the measure. Again, from KPBS:

Nick Serrano, a spokesman for Assemblyman Todd Gloria, Bry’s opponent in the mayor’s race, said Gloria agrees with the committee’s decision to advance the measure and “give San Diegans the opportunity to consider a new life for the Sports Arena property.”

If the Council approves the measure for the November ballot and if a majority of San Diegan voters approve it, the measure would remove the Midway-Pacific Highway area from the 30-foot height restriction, voted into law in 1972 as a citizens’ initiative. Campbell’s vote – as the Councilmember representing the district – carries a lot of weight with her fellow Council members.

Proponents of the measure want to see major redevelopment in the Midway / Sports Arena area, as they view the community as the “sick child” of San Diego neighborhoods.

Campbell’s take, as per KPBS:

“We in San Diego are very familiar with this area and know that it desperately needs revitalization. It can become an area not only for a new sports or entertainment arena, but also a vibrant transportation, residential, commercial, recreational and employment area.”

The Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group did vote unanimously last month to support the proposal. But the planning group has very few actual residents on it and mainly represents business interests in the area. So when the KPBS article reports that “many Midway residents … argue” for the measure, one has to take into account that the actual residents of the planning area in question have not really spoken on the issue. No polls have been taken of residents. So, we really don’t know what the residents think. Residents of the Midway have not been engaged in their so-called planning committee, and the planning committee has not done a good job of enlisting residents into their process. Few residents come to their meetings, and the annual election is held for one-half hour during the day, helping to prevent residents from participating.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page May 14, 2020 at 12:35 pm

Keep in mind that Campbell has only been in San Diego since 2007 and does not have much experience with this city. She was basically retired until she took the council seat. She also lives on the east side of the 5 freeway, not within the 30-foot height limit area. One has to wonder how much she has educated herself on the long history of the height limit. That area wasn’t part of District 2 until it was redrawn some years ago, a move that brought us her sterling predecessor, Zapf. Before Zapf, we had the mayor. Before that Zucchet who had to resign. Why can’t District 2 elect a decent representative?


FG May 14, 2020 at 2:55 pm

The Midway-Pacific Hwy area can be revitalized beautifully without breaking the 30′ height limit. Why does revitalize mean verticalization? No need for a downtown skyline to inch its way north and south. That’s really what developers want…a downtown skyline along the entire coast, billions in their pockets and those of politicians.


Geoff Page May 14, 2020 at 3:18 pm

The reasoning they are using is this. The new community plan allows for a big increase in density, I forget the numbers but it is thousands. The operative words are “allows for.” Using that number, using their reasoning, to build all of that allowed for density at 30 feet, the development would have to cover all of the available open land leaving nothing for parks and walkways and the like. Only if the height restriction is lifted, allowing all that density in taller buildings, can they devote anything to open space. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy see, now that we have approved this density, the height limit has to be removed. Ta ta!

But there is a fatal flaw. Just because a bunch of planners put together a community plan that allows for this density, where does it say that development has to hit that limit? Why not 30 feet tall with livable open space as the goal and build what that allows? Why believe that a planning document must be strictly adhered to, especially one shepherded by the city of San Diego’s Planning Department that is part of the DEVELOPMENT Services Department.


retired botanist May 15, 2020 at 5:32 pm

yep, oh god, here we go again with the dysfunctional City DSD…for crissake, who gave them gospel status? These are breathing, living documents that are SUPPOSED to be modified and amended based on community input and response…


Cholly May 14, 2020 at 7:10 pm

Is a recall for the good doctor and friends feasible? Is it a coincidence that these “planning” bimbos chose the midst of a pandemic to foist this off on us? Can’t you just imagine what they’d like to do to Newport Avenue, once they’ve set a precedent; a precedent that could conceivably affect the whole coast all the way to the Piedras Blancas lighthouse.


Doug Blackwood May 14, 2020 at 7:11 pm

NO NO NO: Campbell must go! Its a navigational hazard as is: frequently floods, many speeder’s.
The old Post Office which the City sold, made $$$ for investor: who then resold it!


Sam May 14, 2020 at 9:20 pm

Regardless of whether or not this redevelopment would make it past the EIR phase, which seems dubious based on the flood plain, traffic impact and toxic infill, Campbell needs to go.

Didn’t she run on a platform of enforcing the 30 ft height limit at all costs?

She has done more than just lost a vote with me, I am going to actively campaign against her.



Paul Webb May 15, 2020 at 2:12 pm

This is just another in a decades long series of bass-ackward planning decisions in San Diego. Leaving the actual merits of rescinding the height limit itself, what sense does it make to spend years formulating an updated community plan, only to have the single biggest proposal to alter the future proposed after the update is complete and during a time when it is virtually impossible for the public to have any say in the outcome. Really, Dr. Jen, is this what we can expect from you?


Deb porter May 17, 2020 at 10:16 am

Yes… she did campaign on the promise to keep the height restriction…and ,yes, we should campaign against her next time.


unwashedWalmartThong May 18, 2020 at 7:32 pm

Looks like a fallacy of false alternatives. Either raise the 30 foot height limit or there will be no revitalization.


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