City Accepted Proposals in 2020 Showing Housing Development Could Occur in Midway Sports Arena Area Under 30-Foot Height Limit

by on October 14, 2022 · 7 comments

in Ocean Beach

Graphic showing Brookfield Properties proposed development of Sports Arena area under the 30-foot height limit.

By Geoff Page

The proponents of removing the 30-foot height limit in the Midway area – Measure C on the November ballot – are deliberately misleading San Diegans. That is putting it politely. The proponents are telling the public that redevelopment of the Midway area is doomed unless the height limit is removed.

That is completely untrue, evidenced by the previous redevelopment proposals the city received in 2020. The proposing firms each submitted two proposals, one showing development at the current 30-foot height limit and the other showing development if the height limit was removed.

Ta da. Proof positive development is possible with the 30-foot height limit.

The main mouthpiece for proponents of Measure C seems to be councilmember Chris Cate. Cate was interviewed on KUSI, Friday, October 7. During that interview, Cate described all the wonderful development that will occur in the Midway area and then said “All those things won’t be allowed to occur unless we remove the 30-foot height limit.”

This contradiction of the facts and clear untruth from a current sitting city council member is, sadly, something we have come to expect from our city politicians.

A July 21, 2020, OB Rag report about the Midway group’s monthly meeting, described the dual proposals.

The dual proposals were also recounted in a September 23, 2020, Rag article about Midway’s September 16 regular monthly meeting. During that meeting, Midway voted to hold a special meeting to exclusively discuss whether or not to support Kevin Faulconer’s chosen redevelopment firm, Brookfield Properties.

Another Rag piece, dated September 28, 2020, recounted what happened during the September 23 special meeting.

In that story, this writer wrote:

Brookfield has used the issue of green space in its argument that the height limit needs to be removed.  If they can build higher, they can devote more land to open space.  If they have to stick to 30 feet, well, there won’t be much land left.  This argument, of course, assumes that the area must be built out to the absolute maximum that the zoning will allow.

During the special meeting, Brookfield used another veiled threat about what would happen if the height limit was not removed.  A question was asked about the future of an entertainment/sports arena facility if Measure E did not pass. (The current ballot initiative is Measure C; it was Measure E in 2020.)

Brookfield’s representative gave an answer worthy of any politician. He said if Measure E did not pass “public benefits and amenities become very challenged.”  Immediately before this comment, he had spoken about the economics of the development.

It was clear that Brookfield was saying. There would be no new entertainment/ sports venue if the 30-foot height limit was not removed because the “economics” would not allow for it. But, oddly enough, Brookfield’s under 30-foot proposal graphic contained an entertainment venue as can be seen in their graphics.

Certainly, the Sports Arena is popular. But, many people are now questioning whether or not this is the best use of land that could be devoted to more housing. Voting to remove the height limit, just so we could have a new entertainment/ sports venue, would be a colossal shame.

Another thing to keep in mind regarding the entertainment/ sports venue is that it would be surrounded by very high-density housing, hotels, and commercial ventures. The big parking lot will be gone.

The current chosen proposer emphasized that their design purposefully allows for very little parking in order to discourage use of cars and encourage use of, well, anything else. It is difficult enough to attend an event there now, one can only imagine what it would be like with all that development.

The takeaway is that proposals the city received in 2020 showed development could occur under the 30-foot height limit. To say that nothing can or will happen without removing the height limit is simply, a lie.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy Blavatt October 14, 2022 at 11:06 am

Jeff is right. We don’t need to build out the property. How about the City keep the arena with a few upgrades. Put low 30 ft. high income housing on the North-East corner where the warehouses sit on the city owned land (what was once area parking) and use some of the funds from the State and other source to build low income housing in the one corner. That way we can get back the number of units, or more, that the City took away from the Stone Wood Apartments that also sits on City land.
Maybe if we do have future water level rise, more low-income housing will be built around San Diego, so the occupants on the Sports Arena property could move to the other housing. This would save a lot of money and liability.


Vern October 14, 2022 at 1:53 pm

C stands for Corruption. No on Measure C.

No more of the Todd Glorias, Kevin Faulconers, Jen Campbells, Duncan Hunters, Duke Cunninghams, Susan Goldings, et al. in San Diego.


kh October 14, 2022 at 2:44 pm

It’s a lie that Measure C is necessary to build a new arena.

All that is required is a ballot measure that exempts that property or even just the existing envelope. I would support that. could even extend the benefit to other structures that preceded the coastal height limit.

This is exactly what happened in 1998 to allow Sea World to exceed the height limit.

Prop C is using a sledgehammer to install a thumbtack.


retired botanist October 14, 2022 at 3:14 pm

kh, Seaworld SUCH a good example… unconscionable!


Michael October 15, 2022 at 11:48 am

Sounds like a step in the right direction. Need to get more density near the coast and provide housing for those who need it. Coastal communities need to pick up some slack too and not push all affordable/market housing to Chula Vista and National City.


Vern October 15, 2022 at 6:23 pm

Seems fair to push affordable housing on Fairbanks Ranch, too, eh?
Vote for high density affordable housing in and around Fairbanks Ranch.


Mat Wahlstrom October 15, 2022 at 8:19 pm

LOL! Thanks, Vern.

Never going to happen so long as the developers live in their AR-1-1 zoning there — it’s “agricultural-residential,” that *requires* only one housing unit per *10* acres:

Seems like dismantling that should take priority over creating the two new CC-3-10 & CC-3-11 zonings under Plan Hillcrest, that are being incorporated into Blueprint SD — that is, mostly SD south of the 8.

Or, y’know, Measure C.


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