Facts vs. Representations on Measure C

by on October 24, 2022 · 5 comments

in Ocean Beach

By John C. Ziebarth

Much have been said about the proposed Redevelopment of the Sports Arena site. Some of what has been said are representations or misrepresentations and some are facts. It is important for the Council, Mayor, and the general public to understand which is which.

The Big Question: Should Measure C remove the 30 feet height cap and not establish a new cap? Should the height limit be left to the City Council?

Below are some of the facts and representations that have been made:

Fact: The area needs redevelopment.

Fact: City needs affordable housing.

Fact: Without raising height, no significant redevelopment or large affordable housing development is feasible.

Representation: Council says existing zoning and community plan will govern height and density.

Fact: Height: The zone allows 65’ height. The City selected development team, Midway Rising, proposes 84’-86’ height for the mixed-use buildings and 100’ to 120’ for the arena.

Fact: Density: The zone and the community plan permit 44 dwelling units per acre. Midway Rising proposes 88 dwelling units per acre or double.

Fact: Loophole: Measure E vote occurred in November 2020, while the City Council was preparing to approve the Complete Communities Housing Solution in December 2020.

The Complete Communities Housing Solution allows developers huge loopholes to ignore height and density restrictions in the city’s zoning code and community plans. It also allows the building area to be doubled and an opportunity to avoid discretionary public review as well as environmental review.

Imagine the additional value of the views from the Sports Arena site, if the residential towers were changed and allowed to go 250’ or 350’ like what NAVWAR is proposing?

Representation: Environmental Review: According to the San Diego Union Tribune: Rachel Laing, a spokesperson for Mayor Todd Gloria also stated “We’re confident in the thorough environmental review conducted by city planners . . .”

Fact: The thorough environmental review revealed that the Community Plan without the increased height and density of Midway Rising would create 16 significant impacts to roadways and intersections that are infeasible to fix. Council approved the Plan anyway. NAVWAR’s 250 foot height is projected to create 26 significant unavoidable traffic impacts.

Fact: July 2022, The Supplemental Environmental Impact Report states significant unavoidable visual impacts created due to the increased height. Council approved those impacts on the city.


As a Pt Loma resident, an architect and planner, I have volunteered thousands of hours over 28 years to assist the City of San Diego in developing zoning and community plans that balances the needs of the community with the goals of development. I have been involved in over 200,000 sf of redevelopment in the Midway/ Sports Arena area and I believe that the height restriction in the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning area needs to be raised above 30’ to promote
revitalization of the area as envisioned in the community plan.

But I can’t support Measure C without a height cap that the public can trust. No loopholes. The City Council and the Mayor have an obligation to be open and transparent with the voting public about the environmental impacts that could be created with Measure C. It is not sufficient to simply say that the Council approved the PEIR and SEIR without identifying for a lay person the significant unavoidable environmental impacts that the council has accepted. What are the additional unanalyzed environmental impacts that are associated with the proposed increased height and density if Measure C passes?

Bigger is not necessarily better for a community. The public needs to know the potential environmental consequences before deciding on Measure C in November. Shouldn’t the mayor and the council be honest and transparent with the public?

John C. Ziebarth is a Point Loma resident, architect and urban planner


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie October 24, 2022 at 11:49 am

I and members of Keep the Coast 30 would disagree on one of John’s “facts”, that the Midway is not developable with the current height limit, yet John still opposes Measure C as he just has too many questions about the ballot measure.


Gregg g Sullivan October 27, 2022 at 2:06 pm

Did you do a cost/benefit analysis to back up your claim?


Geoff Page October 24, 2022 at 12:25 pm

The city received redevelopment proposals from the companies who proposed in 2020. They each provide two designs, one for under 30 feet and one for over. They proved that Midway can be redeveloped without raising the height limit.

John is correct about the ballot measure. Proponents of Measure C are telling the public it will bring 2,000 affordable homes and some park land. But, the ballot measure says none of this. If that is what the proponents say Measure C will provide, put it in the ballot measure along with some kind of height limit.


Paul Krueger October 25, 2022 at 2:12 pm

Thx John for your excellent contribution to the measure C debate.


kh November 7, 2022 at 5:18 pm

FACT: Measure C does not provide for any additional housing density then was already agreed upon 4 years ago in the community plan update.

FACT: The area will be redeveloped regardless of whether Measure C passes.

FACT: The surplus land act and deed-restricted units criteria is required regardless of whether Measure C passes.

But certainly removing the height limit will make the non-restricted units more lucrative to build, and more expensive to rent.


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