San Diego City Council Places Measure to Eliminate 30 Foot Height Limit in Sports Arena Area on November Ballot

by on July 26, 2022 · 35 comments

in Ocean Beach

Close observers of the issue knew it would happen. In its latest move on Monday, the San Diego City Council — in an unanimous vote — placed the measure to eliminate the 30-foot height limit in the Midway on the November ballot.

If approved by voters, the measure would wipe out the height limit in a 1,324-acre area of the Midway District that includes the sports arena and nearby city-owned land, and not to the entire Midway.

This is the latest chapter in a saga which Councilmembers Jen Campbell and Chris Cate began when they convinced their colleagues to place a nearly identical measure on a November 2020 ballot. Voters approved Measure E with a 57% resultant tally. But a judge invalidated Measure E because city officials hadn’t studied the environmental impacts of taller buildings — required by law — before putting the measure in front of voters.

Cate, the lone Republican on the Council, and spearheading the current move, got all the Democrats to vote for the ballot measure, which only needs a simple majority of voters to pass.

Council President Sean Elo-Rivera was quoted as saying taller buildings in the Midway District would help solve the city’s housing crisis by building dense housing in the area, close to freeways and the oft-touted Old Town Transit Center.

This line of thinking has captured everyone of the liberals on the Council. Just saying “affordable housing” makes their eyes glaze over and puts smiles on their lips. A new sports arena will be coming and a certain fraction of the housing will be “affordable.” This is all the assurances they need. And all those jobs, too, for their labor friends.

Of course, there would be the same jobs if the entire area was converted to low-cost and affordable housing, and the Sports Arena itself could provide much more housing if eliminated. And it all could be done with the current height limit. But profit-margins are simply too important.

Voters, like the council, will be tantalized with dreams and promises that the housing crisis will be solved. No more homeless, too.

The citizens’ group, Save Our Access, which filed the original lawsuit that forced Measure E to court for a favorable ruling, says the ballot measure would destroy the height limit in too wide of an area, and that it should be targeted more narrowly.

Yet, November 2022 could be different than November 2020. Neither voters in the Midway or voters throughout District 2 voted to approve the original measure back in 2020 as they were most likely to be negatively impacted. They knew then and still know, there’s no infrastructure in place or planned to support the influx of 20 to 30,000 more residents. The Midway is already a mess and many local travelers avoid it. Perhaps the rest of San Diego voters will come to understand these things.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam R July 26, 2022 at 11:47 am

“Voters, like the council, will be tantalized with dreams and promises that the housing crisis will be solved. No more homeless, too.”

Our current vacancy rate is 1.25%. If tomorrow we had 10,000 more new homes in San Diego, do you think that would be helpful in lowering rents and making homes more affordable for people? In keeping people who are ending up on the streets because they can’t pay their rent in their homes?

Why is housing the only thing untethered from supply and demand on this page, despite numerous academic studies from around the world that show more homes make an impact in a housing crisis (which I’m happy to link to for those interested in what actual people studying this issue say)?

If we had a milk crisis, would you say we obviously don’t need more cows, that we’ve got an “affordable milk” problem?

If nothing else, we’re correcting a racist wrong of the destruction of the Frontier neighborhood that used to be in Midway – – an article which weirdly never got a single mention on this website, which generally covers anything printed about the beach communities in our local papers.


Frank Gormlie July 26, 2022 at 2:30 pm

Sam R – in unposted comments, you are getting a little over the edge by bringing up one of our writer’s kids, so you’ve made your point.


Andrew July 29, 2022 at 10:31 am

What I find amusing about this whole thread is that when historical decisions are cited in support of the OB Rag’s group of page keepers, its the ‘Will of the People’. Prop D is 50 years old, and that history is sacred.

But when it comes to history that presents zoning laws and the origin of our neighborhoods in a negative light, well, it just can’t be. You don’t get the context. Things have changed. Etc…etc..

Can’t have it both ways.


Geoff Page July 29, 2022 at 11:14 am

I think there is as point in that, but it escapes me. No one here refutes history, The Rag and its many contributors are constantly reminding people about history. The point here is that some of us don’t feel it is correct to brand people today in Point Loma with the attitudes of 70 to 80 years ago.


Andrew July 29, 2022 at 12:02 pm

The height limit was approved in 1972, so the youngest people allowed to vote on that are now 68. What surviving voters for Prop D are now in their 70s and 80s.

The most recent votes would show that the majority of San Diegans don’t feel its correct to brand people with the attitudes of 70 and 80-year-olds that voted for Prop D. The CEQA-nonsense doesn’t void the clear opinion of the voters.

Your point is that actions in the past can prove harmful in retrospect and that’s spot on. Prop D and Prop 13 are excellent examples of well-intended policies that proved harmful in the long run.


Geoff Page July 29, 2022 at 1:07 pm

How do you manage to equate racism with the 30-foot height limit? The height limit has protected our coastline – for all – from the ridiculous development you see along the East coast and the Gulf. The attitude to preserve San Diego’s precious coastal areas is not something I would expect to change because it was an amazingly altruistic collection of people who got it done. Why would a desire to preserve what the height limit preserves ever change?


kh July 29, 2022 at 2:38 pm

The majority of current residents on the peninsula (and in District 2) voted for keeping the 30-ft height limit intact in Midway because they know it’s a foot in the door to removing the entire thing. Amazingly, (or not so amazing) is that despite that opposition, the D2 city councilmember spearheaded the effort. I expect inland officials to attack it, but our own rep? Who does she answer to?

Yes it’s a city-wide vote, but let’s not discount this as some decades-past boomer fight.

And chew on this: The Midway redevelopment proposals competing at city council, cover only 3.7% of the Midway planning area.

And, removing the height limit would not increase the allowable housing density of the area. That was already increased 4 years ago during a community plan update, and it allowed for that density to be built without exceeding 30′.


Geoff Page July 26, 2022 at 11:59 am

I read that VOSD piece. VOSD claims Point Loma is still as racist as it was all those many, many years ago and that is why they are against affordable housing in the Midway area. Absolute bullshit. The history is interesting but the premise of the piece is insulting to all the people in this community.


Sam R July 26, 2022 at 1:23 pm

Currently, the 92106 zip code is 89% white and the 92107 zip code is 84% white – far whiter than the city average of 62%. I am curious about your theories as to why there hasn’t been more diversity in Point Loma and the peninsula since Frontier was destroyed in 1962?


Geoff Page July 26, 2022 at 1:37 pm

I looked 92106 up and found this immediately:

The largest 92106 racial/ethnic groups are White (73.0%) followed by Hispanic (13.8%) and Asian (4.8%). There isn’t a category for Portuguese but that would represent another large group.

This for 92107:

The largest 92107 racial/ethnic groups are White (74.1%) followed by Hispanic (14.9%) and Two or More (4.1%).

Statistics aside, demographics evolve over many years and are complicated. But, what matters most is that the claim that racism as a force, similar to the 1940s and 1950s, exists today in Point Loma is unsupportable.


Sam R July 26, 2022 at 1:45 pm

While I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on the racism aspect (though every time people fight multi-family housing here, there’s always a mention of THOSE PEOPLE who might move into the neighborhood), I think we can both agree that currently, the driving force against more homes here are older homeowners fighting tooth and nail to protect the SPECTACULAR gains their houses have accrued over the last 30 – 40 years.


Geoff Page July 26, 2022 at 2:00 pm

Your idea of the driving force is just the popular one everyone wants to use. My house has gone up amazingly in 35 years to the point that it is ridiculous. I moved here because there were nice beach people like me here. I liked OB just like a lot of other people. It is not about the money. I would love to see prices plummet again so people could afford homes, people like my two kids. So stuff your theory.


Chris July 26, 2022 at 4:25 pm

Despite whatever racist past Point Loma may have, its current demographic doesn’t reflect anything to what level of racism may still exist there. I’ll be so bold at to say you don’t really belive that it does. Hillcrest is also mostly white. So is OB for that matter. Like Geoff said, demographics is a complicated issue.
As to the the 30 foot height limit and the idea of more housing will lower prices, I don’t know enough to give an educated opinion on that. Despite the 1.25 vacancy rate, and I have mentioned this many many times in these articles and I will mention it again. There are several multi family units in my area, some of which have been there for over 6 years and are sitting (Hillcrest/Bankers Hill) over half empty. I know “several” doesn’t mean all in San Diego but I am still baffled. The reason they are mostly empty is because a. there are not enough people who can afford them and/or b. there are not enough people who want to pay that much for so small a space. When it comes to housing economics, supply alone does not drive price.


Frank Gormlie July 27, 2022 at 9:59 am

Let’s be clear — despite the Voice of SD’s claim that only Point Loma was racist in the past — San Diego has a wealth of past racism and white supremacy; African-Americans for instance, for decades, could not buy homes north of what’s now Hwy 94, the MLK freeway; people of the Jewish faith couldn’t buy homes in La Jolla until the early 60s when UC forced changes; and throughout the mid-city and College area, original deeds had white supremacist covenants and restrictions embedded in them.

A study I did back in the 1980s showed San Diego to be one of the most segregated towns on the West Coast.

Perhaps Mr. Scott Lewis can study some of THAT history.


Chris July 27, 2022 at 11:44 am

All this convinces me even more that Sam R and whoever in VOSD is making that claim actually believe the views they are expressing. What I DO think is they truly believe higher density housing will ultimately raise vacancy up and therefore affordably. As I said before though, I’m not well versed enough to give any kind of educated opinion. Basic supply and demand economics would lead one to believe that, but that just doesn’t seem to be the case.


Paul Webb July 27, 2022 at 3:34 pm

Frank, I would bet dollars to donuts that most homeowners in San Diego, if they dug back far enough, would find an exclusionary covenant attached to their deed. All of Clairemont had restrictive covenants, in addition to those communities you name. Sometimes they call out specific classes of people (Jews, “Mexicans”, Chinese, etc.) sometimes just identify “non-white” as the affected class.


Paul Webb July 27, 2022 at 9:51 am


The phrase “Those People” really never comes up in the housing discussion. Maybe I just make a point of not hanging around with racists, but that just isn’t the issue we really care about in Point Loma, nor is protecting property values. I don’t really care what my home is worth in dollars as I intend to leave it feet first. What I care about is having a community that has sufficient services, a pleasant and safe living environment (please don’t interpret safe as meaning absence of minorities) and a feeling of community. Not the appreciation I might have made in home value.


Chris July 27, 2022 at 10:01 am

Even IF home values drive community sentiment on density, that doesn’t mean there’s racist intent. Non whites own homes and care about home values no more/no less than their white neighbors.


Frank Gormlie July 27, 2022 at 10:06 am

Chris – thanks for making that point. There’s a certain level of racism involved with assertions by some housing advocates that pushing denser housing into single-family neighborhoods only concerns White homeowners — and this type of racism goes all the way to Sacramento.


Geoff Page July 27, 2022 at 10:39 am

Well said, Paul.


kh July 29, 2022 at 2:47 pm

Many of those families that have established roots here remain. But that imbalanced demographic will probably continue regardless because 92106 and 92107 are really, really damn expensive to move into. And to the extent race and economic demographics align, it will be reflected here.

And I suspect, income being equal, in addition to self-segregation, there may be some cultural differences when it comes to prioritizing living at the coast vs. spending that income elsewhere. For some reason white people seem more willing to be mortgaged/leased up to their eyeballs to take in that ocean breeze on the daily.


Gravitas July 26, 2022 at 12:08 pm

Right you are, Geoff. Obviously, the pro-mega development crowd has not walked any of the neighborhoods….that are now transient high-rises..akin to Legoland. Nothing to do with “racism,” more to do with greed of corporate developers.

Vote against rising the 30-foot height limit…before we become New York with wind tunnels and no sun!

And vote against Jen Campbell who, like the politicians we all dislike, promised one thing to get elected, exact opposite when called on to vote. Dishonest!


Sam R July 26, 2022 at 1:25 pm

Gravitas, could it also be about protecting one’s own skyrocketing home values due to the scarcity of housing options (OB, for instance, has had 1,048 homes built in it since 1990, 32 years ago)? Strange that that never gets spoken about.


Paul Webb July 27, 2022 at 3:28 pm

Sam R, you are correct that not many new homes have been constructed since 1990, but that really stems from the fact that there is no vacant land available. That coupled with the fact that you can essentially tear a home down to two stud walls and call it a “remodel” rather than new construction, means that there has been few “new” homes since then, but as anybody who lives here can tell you there are a lot of greatly expanded McMansions that started out as small homes or beach cottages.

I’m curious as to where you got the number of 1,048 new homes. Actually seems a bit high to me.


Chris July 27, 2022 at 3:56 pm

That could be from from multi family units that have hone up. The question is, will the whole building up rather than you help with vacancy and affordability? So far the affordably part hasn’t happened. I


Paul Webb July 28, 2022 at 10:49 am

Gravitas, I would like to point out that our council member, when confronted by people pointing out that she ran on a “save the height limit” and “no stvrs” platform, replied that she didn’t understand the issues at that time. So, we elected a candidate that didn’t understand the issues. That would be a great campaign slogan: “I don’t understand the issues you care about.” Of course, once the development forces in this city explained the issues to her, she got it.


Chris July 28, 2022 at 4:56 pm

She said she “didn’t understand the issues at the time”. Of course no one believes that and he’s just dumb enough to believe anyone believes she didn’t really understand. The Friday before the Pride Parade we were in InsideOut and she was there with her entourage and she had no shortage of fans present. Interestingly enough, they are very much aware of her dishonesty and that’s actually why they love her. Remember, this was the very same place where my wife and I ran into an LGBTQ married male couple who were very vocal about their disdain for the less fortunate. Interestingly enough (new topic), nearly everyone I now under the age of 40 who consider themselves “progressive” seem to support eliminating the hight limit. I think they truly think more density will help the vacancy shortage, and it just might. Only problem is that still doesn’t mean affordability will improve. I’ve lived onboard Navy ships with 70 of my closest and not so closest friends so I can deal with density, but will it really improve affordability? That I just don’t know.


Geoff Page July 26, 2022 at 1:44 pm

You are conflating two things in your argument. The fact that the value of a person’s home is going up does not translate into the reason why some oppose certain developments. What people are trying to protect is quality of life.

Homeowners have no control over the market prices of their homes. People don’t become as impassioned, as those defending their quality of life, because of money. That argument makes no sense.


Sam R July 26, 2022 at 1:48 pm

Geoff, c’mon. Of course homeowners have some measure of control over the market prices of their homes! They specifically band together to create scarcity by fighting new construction at city hall or supporting elected leaders who will not approve new projects. By artificially creating scarcity, they’ve seen their home prices jump up to astronomical heights.


Geoff Page July 26, 2022 at 2:01 pm

You really are just a troll aren’t you?


kh July 26, 2022 at 2:35 pm

Rest assured, city hall, and Jen Campbell, do not care what the residents of the peninsula think. They care about pleasing their developer friends.

This entire effort has been against the overall wishes of the local residents. If Jen Campbell campaigned on removing the height limit she would be retired doing needlepoint right now.


Nikhil Penugonda July 26, 2022 at 2:46 pm

The rest of the city also does not care what the peninsula thinks, so long as it stands in the way of what’s good for everyone else.
– a Hillcrest resident & product of Scripps Ranch


Geoff Page July 26, 2022 at 4:18 pm

Removing the 30-foot height limit anywhere is not good for everyone else.


kh July 29, 2022 at 4:20 pm

Did you say that because you want more housing?

You may be surprised to learn that removing the 30-ft height limit in Midway will not change the allowable housing density.


sealintheselkirks July 27, 2022 at 10:08 am

Sam: so your idea is that every homeowner is incredibly over-concerned about the increasing home ‘value’ and it’s their fault because they’ve come together to inflate them? Is that pretty much it?

So I’m sure these people are just fine and dandy with the skyrocketing property tax increases while their income stagnates or shrinks and their neighborhoods pack in like Mexico City, because, you know, they’re now so wealthy with that…shall we say overheated home values?, that the corporations are creating FOR THEIR OWN PROFIT. Duh, dude, Oh wait, they are all going to sell out and…go where? Everywhere is overpriced! Oh wait, they can take their new-found riches and move to somewhere like Costa Rica, right? Live the life of luxury on their ill-gotten gains.

I posted this on another thread I’m sure, but maybe you need to re-read this, Sam. It really isn’t about Hillary but it most certainly can be applied to the corrupt wealthy that own the world, like Blackstone and their ilk:

3 Reasons To Be Worried About the Blackstone Group—and Their Friend, Hillary Clinton

Leaked emails show Clinton’s advisers sought to “develop a real relationship with” the controversial private equity firm.
Article is from 2016, think anything has changed?
Ans Geoff, I think Sam is conflating the term ‘homeowners’ with corporate buy-outs scooping up enormous blocks of homes and apartment buildings. That power is amassed through rampant corruption and greed, and Sam I’d certainly agree with you if you separated the two because that IS what is happening all across the country (and planet for that matter).

What is about to happen to Sandy Eggo only the morbidly wealthy are gonna like because they already have their gated enclaves to hide in as they suck more of the dwindling income of the rest of us for their own greed. We are experiencing the end result of Reaganomics.

Dear Republicans: We Tried Your Way and It Does Not Work

Their “Reaganism” sales pitch was effective, and we’ve now had 42 years of the so-called Reagan Revolution: It’s time to say out loud that it hasn’t worked



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