The Navy Is Launching a Major Redevelopment Project and Many San Diegans Aren’t Paying Attention

by on July 14, 2021 · 2 comments

in Military, Ocean Beach, San Diego

By Phillip Halpern / San Diego Union-Tribune OpEd / July 13, 2021

The U.S. Navy has embraced “stealth” technology with the launch of three Zumwalt class warships. This technology allows the ships to elude radar, sail into enemy territory undetected and conduct surveillance in a clandestine manner. Such stealth strategies are, of course, both necessary and laudable when undertaken in the national interest.

Unfortunately, the Navy has also recently launched a stealthy redevelopment project, which has been flying under the radar of most San Diego residents. This project — which is shamefully supported by the city of San Diego — seeks to modernize the old SPAWAR site (a collection of buildings alongside Pacific Highway just east of Old Town) and the Navy’s Old Town campus (a contiguous area running along Midway Drive). The cost: destruction of the very quality of life we all prize in living, working and vacationing in this beautiful city.

These two properties (collectively named NAVWAR) comprise more than 70 acres spanning almost a mile along Interstate 5 and falling on both sides of Pacific Highway. The Navy has proposed five alternatives for the site, which vary greatly in their impact upon the local community.

Alternative 1 — which the Navy appears to dismiss out of hand — would be funded entirely by the Navy and simply require renovating the existing buildings.

Alternatives 2 and 3 would call for public-private mixed-use developments. The few existing buildings would be demolished and approximately 100 buildings would be built in their place. These buildings would dwarf the normal 30-foot coastal limit and be as high as 240 feet (22 or so stories).

Alternatives 4 and 5 — which the Navy and city officials are pushing — are even worse. These would replace the existing NAVWAR buildings with as many as 109 new edifices, including 35 high-rise buildings that would be as tall as 350 feet (more than 30 stories) and encompass millions of square feet of commercial, hotel and residential space.

For the balance of this article, please go here.

Phillip Halpern was an assistant U.S. attorney for 36 years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego. He is a resident of Mission Hills.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie July 15, 2021 at 9:58 am

Here is an eye-opener about Circulate San Diego – they support Alternative 4, omg! This is from their website:
“Circulate San Diego submitted a comment letter in response to the Navy’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Navy Old Town Campus Revitalization. The proposal is a bold and welcome contribution to the future of the built environment in San Diego. The Navy’s preferred proposal will bring thousands of new homes, large amounts of office space, and secure a permanent home for an important piece of our national security infrastructure.

The location is prime for new development, with regional transit access via the Old Town Transit Center, including access to both UTC and the Downtown jobs centers. The site is located within the Midway-Pacific Highway planning area, where the City of San Diego’s voters approved an elimination of a longstanding height limit, and the community plan calls for infill growth.

Circulate San Diego supports Alternative 4, the most dense development and the Navy’s preferred alternatives. Circulate also gave detailed recommendations that the Navy establish requirements for affordability, parking, and transportation that reflect the region’s goals. ”


Paul Webb July 15, 2021 at 10:03 am

Not really a surprise. Colin Parent supports intense development everywhere but La Mesa, where he lives and is a member of the City Council.


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