Barbara Bry Flips on 30-Foot Height Limit in the Midway District

by on October 13, 2022 · 11 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach

In a report on their Politifest event held last weekend, the Voice of San Diego’s Scott Lewis highlighted an apparent flip by County Assessor candidate Barbara Bry on the 30-foot height limit in the Midway District.

“One of the fiercest debates at Politifest this year featured the two candidates for the obscure office of county assessor/recorder/clerk. Jordan Marks, a Republican, who works in the office now as assessor taxpayer advocate and former City Councilwoman Barbara Bry, a Democrat, who ran for mayor in 2020, ….

“… one of the most interesting exchanges came when I asked them about some important ballot measures and how they would cast their votes.

Bry supports height limit exemption…: When she ran for mayor, Bry had championed neighborhood concerns about new housing and development and she was an outspoken opponent, in 2020, of Measure E, which would have allowed developers to construct buildings higher than 30 feet in the Midway neighborhood. Measure E passed but a judge threw it out after opponents successfully made their case that the city had not studied the impact of the change adequately in its environmental review.

Bry said that’s now been addressed in the new initiative, Measure C.

“I’m comfortable. What I really think the city is going to need to do though to get it passed, is to deal with the appropriate infrastructure for the community,” she said. …

Marks was unwilling to take a stand on any of these measures. He said the assessor should remain neutral. …

This flip by Bry is huge. Up to now, at least, her position on protecting the height limit in the Midway has been clear. Back in May of 2020, I reported:

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. …

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.

Two years ago, Rag columnist Colleen O’Connor wrote a post outlining 5 reasons to vote for Bry for mayor:

The fourth reason is perhaps the most important. Bry opposes elimination of the longstanding 30-foot height limit west of Interstate 5. That limit is being picked away in the Midway area via a ballot initiative this fall.

Supported overwhelming by the people of San Diego nearly 50 years ago, the height limit was designed to preserve “the unique and beautiful character of the coastal zone of San Diego,” and to prohibit buildings that obstructed “ocean breezes, sky and sunshine.”

Who wants to live in a cement jungle of sunless high-rise buildings in the midst of a pandemic? New York, anyone?

Have we been duped? Or was Bry’s previous position genuine and now she is … just comfortable? Any thoughts on our endorsement have been trashed.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

kh October 13, 2022 at 11:14 am

I’ll have to side with her opponent on this, as he had the only correct answer to this question, basically saying it’s not the business of the tax assessor to be taking sides on this sort of issue.


Frances O'Neill Zimmerman October 13, 2022 at 3:03 pm

I would agree that the tax assessor’s job definitely does not include taking positions on propositions. That said, I am surprised and disappointed to learn that Bry recently has flip-flopped and opinionated in favor of C. Now I’m wondering if she’s running for assessor because she’s still got her eye on a future run for Mayor. Still, always good to know the score before Election Day.


Benjamin Blevins October 13, 2022 at 6:25 pm

I would also agree that the assessor’s role does not include taking a position, however, I completely understand why they ask that question as it is a hot button issue. I was born and raised in 92106/7 and it’s my home, I am in favor of measure c since the city did it’s homework and has an environmental impact study to back it up. I also voted for measure e, because it’s important to understand where this community needs to be in seven years from now. Also, to be fair, when looking at his contributions a lot of includes developers, so there’s that too. We have to plan for seven years from now and look forward, rather than staying the course which obviously hasn’t been working for the area.


kh October 14, 2022 at 3:00 pm

Did you know Midway was already rezoned in 2018 to allow for all these new homes without lifting the height limit?

Did you actually read the EIR for Measure C? Where it talked about significant unmitigated impacts on surrounding areas? Where they did not evaluate the traffic impacts because it doesn’t add any more homes than what they already evaluated in 2018 with the height limit in place?

I think the basis for your decision is completely unfounded I would recommend reading up more on the issue and not just believing the propaganda from city staff.


Mat Wahlstrom October 14, 2022 at 6:33 pm
Paul Krueger October 15, 2022 at 8:32 am

Thx for sharing, Mat.


Paul Krueger October 13, 2022 at 7:33 pm

I disagree with Barbara’s stance on Measure C, but still strongly support her for the Assessor/Recorder/Clerk position. I think her qualifications for that county job — including her commitment to upgrading technology and consumer service — are more important that her well-reasoned decision to support Measure C. We need new leadership in that important county position, and Barbara is a clear choice for the job. I’m voting for Barbara, despite our disagreement on Measure C.


norma damashek October 14, 2022 at 10:41 am

I fully concur with Paul Krueger’s clear-sighted comments. I, too, oppose Prop C. But I, too, support Barbara Bry for the office of San Diego Assessor/Recorder/Clerk.

Her integrity, record, and credentials count more heavily in this race than her disappointing stance on Measure C.


Karl Rand October 15, 2022 at 11:37 am

I was at the candidate forum where Barbara Bry and her opponent were asked to give their views on issues that are not directly tied to the assessor’s office. I am voting for Bry because it is clear she is much more likely to bring about the much needed changes to the assessor’s office. That’s what really matters in that race.

I appreciate the great work OB Rag does, but I don’t see how a flip by Bry here, if there even is one, could be fairly described as huge. You write that Bry opposed putting the measure on the ballot in 2020 because it was “not an urgent need for the City,” and now she says she is comfortable with it but points out the need for supportive infrastructure if it passes. As I see it, these are not an extreme positions in either direction, for or against. Measure C involves complex and conflicting public policies where good people can disagree. Bry seems to understand and appreciate this, which is another reason I am supporting her.


deb porter October 15, 2022 at 12:00 pm

I feel that I have been duped… and I’m amazed that its from Barbara Bry. I have supported her for years, financially and politically. I’m stunned. If Barbara backtracks on her opposition to Prop. C, she has lost my support.


Gravitas October 15, 2022 at 7:35 pm

Deb: You are not the only one appalled at Bry’s Flip Flop. Lost my support as well. Just like Campbell before her.


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