SOHO: Protect San Diego From NAVWAR Project

by on October 4, 2021 · 23 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego


Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) and San Diegans across the county have grave concerns over the Navy’s impactful proposal named the Old Town Campus Revitalization Project, unveiled this past May.

Detailed within the Environment Impact Statement (EIS) are abundant environmental issues including visual resources, air quality, historic and cultural resources, transportation, land use, socioeconomics, noise, environmental justice, public services, infrastructure, geology, and biological resources.

Five alternatives are included; however, none retain the National Register eligible Consolidated Aircraft Plant 2 Historic District (also known as Convair), nor propose affordable housing, and alternatives two through five will drastically change San Diego’s character and sense of place, especially visually and spatially. For more information, read HERE.

On Friday, October 15, this horrendous project moves forward for review by the California Coastal Commission (CCC).

San Diego needs you to oppose this detrimentally transformative project by contacting the CCC and submitting opposition comments about the NAVWAR project. Below is the agenda (Item 12.b.), how to provide written comments and oral testimony to the CCC, and a sample opposition letter.

To submit written materials for review by the CCC, email your comments to by 5pm on Friday, October 8.

Agenda and speaker request form HERE, then click on the blue tab that says Friday, and scroll down to item 12.b.

Livestream HERE.

Sample Opposition Letter:


As a resident of San Diego, I support the No Action Alternative because there are more environmentally responsible alternatives, not included within the draft EIS, that would achieve NAVWAR goals while still retaining San Diego’s visual and spatial relationships, eliminating impacts to historic Old Town, and honoring the Consolidated Aircraft Plant 2 Historic District (also known as Convair) which is one of the last physical representations of San Diego’s long and leading position in the worldwide history of aerospace engineering and aviation.

I do not support any alternative as proposed because alternatives two through five would detrimentally impact 19 historically designated properties, including the National Historic Landmark Presidio Park, in addition to drastic visual and spatial changes that would forever change San Diego’s character. Further, I oppose Alternative One, as currently proposed, because this plan would eliminate the Consolidated Aircraft Plant 2 Historic District, which is eligible for the National Register as an excellent example of a massive manufacturing aircraft production complex. This district is important for its role during both WWII and the Cold War, illustrating San Diego’s internationally significant and leading role in the aerospace industry.

I strongly encourage the Navy to pursue project alternatives that retain the National Register eligible historic district within OTC Site One and do not detrimentally impact San Diego’s iconic views and historic landmarks.

I respectfully urge you to OPPOSE the Navy’s Old Town Campus Revitalization Project and all its alternatives.

Thank you,



{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Mat Wahlstrom October 4, 2021 at 12:30 pm

Thank you for sharing this. It is alarming that the Coastal Commission is being asked to approve what is essentially the Navy’s “Alternative 4” from the draft Environmental Impact Statement — the one with the most density and impacts — even though the Navy’s final EIS hasn’t been issued saying what alternative it has decided on.

This appears to be asking the Commission to rubber stamp a foregone conclusion and exposes the Navy’s EIS process as a sham.


Tyler October 4, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Just curious what the solutions are from this crowd as it relates to housing issues, other than telling people to look elsewhere? I’ve seen tons of complaints, but no solutions. Specifically, I’m recalling negative stances on granny flats, NAVWAR, Sports Arena redevelopment, and many multi-unit proposals on the peninsula. Look, change can “suck” sometimes, but it’s also inevitable. Nothing has 100% positive externalities. But I continue to be incredulous as the absolutist view while simultaneously not providing realistic solutions. If I missed them, apologies.


Fred Dryer October 4, 2021 at 9:59 pm

What solution do you have for water and electricity for all of these extra people.


Andrew T October 5, 2021 at 10:29 am

Any new dense developments like these would be significantly more water and energy efficient than the existing housing stock of San Diego. Each resident would emit far less carbon and use far less water than any single family home in OB that’s over 10 years old. If any new development of any sort were to happen, this is the most sustainable.

If water and electricity are a concern, the real solution would be to stop growth in places like Santee or Alpine to be totally honest.


Paul Webb October 5, 2021 at 4:21 pm

While I agree with you that most new housing is more water and energy efficient than the average home, but the most sustainable structure is one that is already built. The impacts of new construction are enormous.


Andrew T October 5, 2021 at 8:05 pm

The issue with that is it assumes the housing stock is static – which it’s not (regarding this thread on housing’s impact to electric demand and grid constraints). SB100 means there won’t be any more gas service in the entire state by 2045 – so any and every gas furnace, stove, dryer, water heater, or other appliance will need to be replaced. That means we’ll see huge increases in electric consumption in older areas of the electric grid, which requires massive upgrades to grid infrastructure. Homes already built are going to change going forward, and addressing the grid constraints caused by existing housing is something we can’t avoid. Supplying power to a central location is more sustainable that the grid issues we’ll see SB100 cause in already built housing.


Michael October 5, 2021 at 8:11 am

I’ve never seen a solution proposed by this crowd which supports increased density. Housing in SD is for the wealthy and those spending their 3-5 years renting and moving on. No real solution for the middle.


Frank Gormlie October 5, 2021 at 9:43 am

As writers on this site have said over and over again, we don’t have a housing crisis – we have an affordable housing crisis. And Michael, you don’t seem to appreciate this distinction.


Frank Gormlie October 5, 2021 at 9:48 am

Tyler, we’re trying to get government and whomever to build more affordable housing. Blanket okays for granny flats, NAVWAR and the Sports Arena redevelopment do not provide for more affordable housing. The new laws SB 9 and 10 don’t call for affordable housing. In your broad-strokes to label anybody who questions this direction as NIMBY or just a bunch of sore complainers or, as you say, holding “the absolutist view” just does not help the conversation.


Paul Webb October 5, 2021 at 9:48 am

I think that plenty of people has proposed solutions for the housing problem. Identification of the actual need for housing in all income ranges (if it is indeed needed), and providing targeted housing construction in appropriate places to meed those housing needs. It’s call “planning.” It is something that San Diego has never been very good at.

We have got ourselves into the situation we now face by letting housing and other land use decisions be governed almost entirely by market forces. It is folly to think that taking what few restrictions exist (like single family zoning, height limits, etc.) off of the market forces will somehow result in an improvement over what we have now. This is just magical thinking.


Mat Wahlstrom October 5, 2021 at 11:25 am

Exactly, Paul. What makes this site development even worse is that (a) it’s federal land and so there’s even less ability to influence what gets built here and (b) that none of the “public-private development” alternatives the Navy is proposing have any affordability requirements or apparently even provisions for housing their own.

The Navy homeported a third aircraft carrier here in 2019 (after being lobbied to do so by the local Chamber of Commerce), adding the strain of accommodating over 3,000 naval personnel and their families on our region.

It’s a double whammy.


Chris October 6, 2021 at 10:14 am

It’s kind of the same issue going in all major cities throughout the country.
The people who finally decide (and have the ability) to leave due to being prices out move to cities more affordable to then but in the process drive the cost of living for those already there and in many cases force people in those areas out. A vicious cycle that may not have a solution.
My wife and I had an interesting conversation with a same sex couple (male) in Hillcrest a few months ago. We were at Inside Out (part of the Mo’s universe) having some drinks and appetizers. Inside out is attached to the Eitol Towers, which is a very high end expensive (and kind of ugly) apartment complex. This couple lived in the unit. They moved here about three years ago from San Antonio. The reason for coming here was a combination of career opportunities and just wanting to get away from the hostile treatment they’ve endured growing up in Texas as LGBT. They discussed issues growing up in very conservative right wing families, dealing with the fear of just walking into an establishment and being chased out at gunpoint when traveling across the state, being bullied, pretty much the whole nine yards. So people who’ve been dealing with adversity their whole lives and California just seemed the right move and San Diego (Hillcrest specifically) is a place they feel at home. Then the conversation shifts to the affordability crisis SD is facing and the growing amounts of homelessness and others just sinking into poverty. So the shocker was their admitted disdain for people getting priced out. I quote “we are not fans of the less fortunate”. They truly felt they have more right to be here than others who can no longer afford to remain. And these guys fancy themselves “progressives”. So it’s not just greedy developers and property managers, its people who have the ability and willingness to pay the asking prices. Obviously not all people of affluence think that way but plenty do. Even people who do leave here for more affordability are not thinking or caring about their impact of those in the towns and cities they move into.


Mat Wahlstrom October 6, 2021 at 11:04 am

Wow, that’s really disappointing to hear, but sadly not surprising. As I’ve said, “beware mistaking those working to end the oppression of everyone with those working simply to not be oppressed themselves.”

But based on the timeline you mention, they must be experiencing some serious karma: the historic bungalow on the other half of the plot behind Eitol was demolished under suspicious circumstances and construction without need of review begun immediately on a hideous tower taller than and just a few feet from the back of it, likely seriously compromising the value of their investment:,-CA-92103_rb/16956455_zpid/


Geoff Page October 6, 2021 at 11:35 am

I can say, Chris, that my kids would be mortified if I had been having your experience because I would have called them out on a statement like that. I imagine you are a bit more polite than I from reading the account. I have a very hard time abiding that kind of insensitivity. My mom always emphasized the need to be considerate. As a resulst, I have no tolerance for inconsideration.

But, your description of how this is happening everywhere is very good. I just got off the phone with a friend who lives in Denver. Some years ago, he bought a cabin in the mountains as many in the city do. Paid $165k. Fixed it up and it just sold for $485,000. He said the real estate people told him he get several offers within days and it would sell over the asking price. It did. This is pricing out the mountain people now.


Chris October 6, 2021 at 1:33 pm

Oh we left shortly after that. They insisted we stick around and drink with them some more but we weren’t having it. We just said we have somewhere to be and “have a great rest of your evening”.
My only guess as to why they think the way they do is perhaps that they went through some tough obstacles in their lives and yet became successful and have a sort of “no excuses” mentality. Or they are simply aholes and any and all hardships they faces doesn’t change that.


Geoff Page October 6, 2021 at 2:34 pm

It is hard to believe that anyone who has suffered the adversity they described wound up with no empathy for others. Makes me suspicious of their whole “we were discriminated against” story after hearing that.

You behaved better than I would have.


Chris October 6, 2021 at 7:12 pm

I wanted to punch them but who wants to be the straight guy who starts a bar fight in Hillcrest lol. Joking aside, it was hard to maintain composure it I was just fascinated ie floored by their way of thinking and finally just had to leave.


Mat Wahlstrom October 6, 2021 at 7:20 pm

“With stupidity itself even the gods must contend in vain.”


Name too October 4, 2021 at 6:10 pm

I’ve been inside them. Those white elephant buildings are not worth saving. If anything you should be calling for them to be torn down to restore the Old Town views.

Liberty Station actually has architecture and while I find it attractive is not the most efficient space utilization. Just shop the Vons to see why.

San Diego would be better served with improved transit and additional housing and businesses right next to the trolley. Even better, a station with Coaster, Amtrak, blue and green line trolleys and many busses. Of any spot, this is where you should be building as dense as possible. The Navy did the same thing down by the Midway museum. An old monstrosity replaced with a newer more efficient building and better space utilization because the now unused real estate was related for private companies.


Gravitas October 6, 2021 at 8:39 am

And read this…..LESS Neighbors, MORE renters. LESS Water, MORE consumption.

Look at the massive growth downtown, Mission Valley, in the better neighborhoods (lots of “six-pack” developments on single family sites); and NOW…eliminate centuries’ old free trash pickup for residential neighborhoods…SO…More trash on the streets. Count the mattresses!

God Bless SOHO for still trying to save what is best about what remains of SD


Michael October 6, 2021 at 1:10 pm

Renters have all the same rights to water and housing as owners. Prop 13 doesn’t help as there’s a big incentive to keep property to rent. Nevertheless, expressing a desire to only live next to those who make similar financial choices is a pretty bad look IMO.


Gail Laurie Friedt October 7, 2021 at 1:10 pm

Coastal Commission Hearing Agenda Update

Please note that Item F12b (CD-0007-21 – U.S. Department of the Navy, San Diego) on the California Coastal Commission’s agenda for Friday, October 15, 2021, has been postponed at the request of the Navy and will be rescheduled for a future date in 2022. Advance notice will be provided when a new hearing date is selected.


Frank Gormlie October 7, 2021 at 1:51 pm

Please note that Item F12b (CD-0007-21 – U.S. Department of the Navy, San Diego) on the California Coastal Commission’s agenda for Friday, October 15, 2021, has been postponed at the request of the Navy and will be rescheduled for a future date in 2022. Advance notice will be provided when a new hearing date is selected.


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