Midway Planners: Rowdies at Language School, Homeless Update, Terminal One and New Cannabis Outlet

by on July 26, 2022 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

Language School Rowdies

The Midway area sure has its share of problems, the homeless situation being foremost. At the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group’s regular monthly meeting, Wednesday, July 20, another less publicized problem was discussed: rowdiness at the EF International Language School on Kenyon Street.

The discussion started during the Non-Agenda public comment portion of the meeting when a Midway resident, Denise Vedder, who lives near the school, described a litany of woes involving the students. Mostly, it was the regular stuff like loud noise, late noise, and vomiting in the bushes.

Vedder described various efforts she has made to have something done, with little success. She said the campus only has one security officer who exercises no control at all. She has been advised to call the police — with little success as well. Vedder said she was reluctant to call the police because she feels it is the school’s problem.

She also explained that a neighbor did a Public Records Request for police records about school incidents. Between October 2015 and January 2021, there were 265 calls to the police about the school and, she added, this included two years of COVID that probably kept that number down.

Vedder expressed anger that the school was not controlling its problem. She said that a multi-national, private, for-profit company is relying on the public police department to deal with the problem for free. She said the school needs to beef up its own security program and not rely on public dollars to deal with its own problems.

The EF International Language School has been in existence for about six years. The school took over the vacant 10-story building, and associated buildings, that used to be Point Loma’s Cabrillo Hospital. The big building was empty for nine years and the school moving in was seen as a big positive.

The school campus holds about 700 students, in the residence, with additional students staying with host families. The student demographic appears to be young, college age people from all over the world.

A September 23, 2016, Union Tribune article by Dave Garrick described the school and how it was welcomed by everyone at that time.

Previous planning committee chair, Cathy Kenton had this to say then:

“We are welcoming them with open arms,” said Cathy Kenton, chairwoman of the Midway/Pacific Highway Community Planning Group. “Having young people in the community is very attractive.”

Kenton’s mood has since changed. She said “We were assured these issues would not happen.  This is not what we were promised.”

San Diego Police Department Community Relations Officer David Surwilo attended the meeting and the discussion continued with him. According to Surwilo, there had been a similar problem some time ago and the PD stepped in and met with the school. Apparently, the problem was brought under control at that time. Surwilo said this was the first he had heard that the problem had returned.

Surwilo explained that this kind of problem is dynamic and it ebbs and flows. He said the PD would be happy to step up again and help as they did in the past by meeting with the school.

Kenton said the Conditional Use Permit the school has for the business in that location needs to be reviewed. The school is not doing what it originally promised and despite the previous police intervention, the school has done nothing to control the problem.

It was not clear exactly where Denise Vedder lives but there are residential buildings bordering the school on the northwest, many of which are also very new.  There are also houses to the southwest. The main outdoor area is off Kenyon Street, adjacent to the residential buildings.

Homeless updates

It would not be a Midway group meeting without a discussion of the homeless problem. The main news was an update by Lisa Jones of the San Diego Housing Commission on two Midway shelters. One facility is called a “harm reduction center,” a marvelous bit of linguistic gymnastics attempting to avoid the stigma associated with the word “shelter.  It is located in the old Pier One store building and has been functioning since late last fall.

Jones said the Pier One shelter was full and had moved seven people to permanent or transition housing. While any progress is admirable, seven is a mere fraction of the homeless population. Jones also said the average stay at the shelter was 89 days, which is seen as a positive development. Longer stays provide more opportunities to work with people and to connect them with needed services.

The second shelter is three times the size of the Pier One facility. The huge tent structure is being erected at the County mental health facility on Rosecrans. Jones said utilities are being installed and that work will take into the first week of August. After that, the beds and interior facilities will be set up.

Jones explained that the Alpha Project will staff the shelter and they are about at about 50% of the staff they need. She explained that they planned to staff the shelter with seasoned staff brought from other areas along with new staff.

Jones said they have been having security meetings with in-house staff and local law enforcement agencies. As soon as they can, they plan to conduct tours of the new facility for interested parties.

During non-agenda public comment, a spokesperson for another non-profit that helps the homeless said they want to move into the Midway area. Considering how many facilities Midway already has, the response was surprisingly positive. Perhaps anyone willing to help with the problem is looked on favorably.


Daniel Hershey and Ted Anasis from the San Diego Regional Airport Authority provided a presentation on the airport’s New Terminal One Shuttle Lot Relocation project. The airport is consolidating facilities that deal with the airport shuttles, such as charging stations and parking and staging areas. The new project consists of a large shuttle bus parking and staging lot and a modular building to house staff and maintenance personnel.

The new facility will be on the east side of Pacific Highway bordered on the north by West Palm St. and West Laurel on the south. According to Hershey, the location is an abandoned parking lot that has experienced vandalism, homeless encampments, and is pretty trashed.  Hershey appeared to say that the airport was doing everyone a favor cleaning up that mess. They are “revitalizing” the area, not just building a new shuttle facility for themselves.

According to Hershey, the parking lot is on Port of San Diego land they are leasing. The building is in the City of San Diego’s area. The airport bought that property. They came before the Midway group as a part of the city’s permitting process. It appeared that they were not really happy having to do that, judging by Hershey’s demeanor. The airport is used to being the gorilla in the room and rarely ever has to come before a planning board where the common folk have a say.

The airport needs the project because the existing shuttle bus parking area is going away due to Terminal One construction.

The shuttles run between the rental car structure and terminals on the airport’s interior perimeter road. The only time they will be off property will be going to the new project using Laurel St. They will leave the facility and will enter airport property by way of West Palm St.

Cathy Kenton was again displeased by some of what she saw. Her first complaint was that the project was already underway with no opportunity for public input. She was concerned about traffic. She was upset that this facility was not on airport property completely, as they were originally led to believe the new improvements would be.

Hershey and Anasis addressed her concerns. At one point, it seemed they were being disingenuous by pointing out that it was airport property because the airport bought the land. This was, of course, not the property Kenton meant.

In the end, chair Dike Anyiwo made a motion to approve the project, expressing a desire to not hold up the airport’s progress. This despite board reservations about not having any time to study the project before taking a vote. The motion passed 6 to 1.

New cannabis outlet

An application to place a new cannabis outlet at 2555 Kettner Blvd. was the second action item for the group. It will be a small 1500/sf building at the far southern end of Midway’s boundary.

There was a discussion about the restriction of only four cannabis businesses allowed in District 2. There are already four now but the presenters pointed out that redistricting left only two within the district, leaving two open spots.

The main concern from the group was a lack of parking at the site. There were only a few spots in the rear of the building. Considering the type of business it is, the lack of parking is a legitimate concern. The group voted to approve the project by a vote of 5 to 3, with a requirement that the business not allow employees to park on-site leaving at least some parking for customers.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tyler July 28, 2022 at 10:33 am

How is Marti Emerald’s “4 per district” still a thing? The oligopoly continues


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