Midway Planners: Navy’s NAVWAR Plans Still Include Transit Center, a ‘Bike Box’ on Sports Arena, and Group Has No Recommendation on ‘C’

by on October 27, 2022 · 4 comments

in Military, Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The Navy’s update on the NAVWAR project, a new pot business, and another cycling proposal were the main items of interest at the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group’s regular monthly meeting on Zoom, October 19.


The Navy’s spokesperson, Greg Geisen along with Captain Franklin, Naval Base Point Loma Commanding Officer, gave a PowerPoint presentation.  The presentation was titled “Old Town Campus Revitalization,” an amazingly benign title for the massive redevelopment of the Navy’s property.

Geisen and Franklin began by describing all the benefits San Diego enjoys because of the Navy’s presence here. This included 29,000 jobs and expenditures of $1.6 billion that go into San Diego’s economy. According to the presenters, the Navy’s contribution to the county amounts to one fourth of the entire regional economy.

The message was very clear: we – the Navy – are a very valuable resident of San Diego. Remember that when we then discuss this massive project.

When the development proposals were first viewed in 2021, there were five “Alternatives.” The public very much preferred Alternative #1 “Navy Only Development.” This would mean the Navy would fund and build whatever facility it needed on its own.

The Navy preferred Alternative #4, “Public Private Development-NAVWAR and Higher Density Mixed Use with a Transit Center.” In other words, the Navy chose the design that maximized the site as much as possible. This was the design the public revolted against when they saw it.

The Navy is still going forward with Alternative #4 for the environmental review process. Geisen repeated the Navy’s reasoning from the last time saying the Navy was just trying to get the maximum envelope it could so there would be no need to go back later for more. This was accompanied by an insistence that it is not the Navy’s intention to actually do what the environmental permit may allow.

By way of explaining how bad a choice Alternative #1 is, Captain Franklin said if the Navy had to go to Congress for money and build what it needed, the remaining land would stay with the Department of Defense. In other words, no benefit for the city.

This was an odd comment in light of the Navy’s presentation that began with a description of the existing facility and related how the Navy no longer needs such a huge space. The Navy wants to enter into a Public Private Partnership or PPP with a developer because it can use the large surplus of land to obtain a “free” new facility.

Simply put, in a PPP, the developer builds the Navy a “free” building in exchange for development rights and a 99-year lease on the property the Navy does not need. This is exactly what is happening at Broadway and Harbor Drive now. The Navy’s building on Harbor was put up first, for “free,” and the remainder of the site is being developed by private interests.

Captain Franklin’s comment that Alternative #1 would result in the property remaining with the DOD was odd because Geisen and Franklin stated the Navy did not need the land. If so, why would the Navy keep it and not return it to the city like Liberty Station if Alternate #1 was chosen? This was a serious contradiction.

Alternative #4 includes a “transit center.” Previously, SANDAG and the Navy had informally partnered up and were proposing a Grand Central Station on the site. SANDAG has since pulled out of their relationship with the Navy and are now proposing two other transit facilities further south towards downtown.

For some reason, the Navy is still planning a transit center. It was not explained who would be connecting to it and who would pay for those connections. The Navy did say the development proposals that will eventually be considered must all contain improvements to area streets. But, that is not transit connection, which would have to be done by others.

Other positive comments were that the development would help with affordable housing, revitalize Midway, improve the tax base, and that the transit center would be “green.”

The presentation included a curious timeline slide. It showed details and dates in a timeline that lead up to 2022. From that point forward, there were no dates; instead of dates along the top it just showed “TBD.” There were a number of milestones noted such as when they will ask for Requests for Qualifications, or RFQs, of proposers and when they will ask for Requests for Proposals, or RFPs, from the selected proposers

The RFQs will be going out soon. The Navy will receive those and will evaluate the qualifications of the various proposers. From those, they will select a limited number and will invite those to provide development proposals sometime next spring. The expectation is that the development proposals will be coming in by the end of 2023.

There was one oddity in the Navy’s presentation. The map that was included to show the Navy’s “campuses,” or facilities on both side of Pacific Highway, outlined the old Midway borders. MCRD was not in the Navy’s map.

To see all the information available, and there is a lot, go here  .

Intersection improvements

Matt Schalles from Peninsula Community Planning Board made a small slide show presentation about changes the cycling community would like to see at the Sports Arena, West Point Loma, Midway intersection. This came before the group at the September meeting and was detailed in The Rag’s report .

Schalles explained that the westbound bike lane on Sports Arena ends on the east side of the intersection. It then picks up with what he described as an awkward transition on the west side to the bike lane there. There are no markings crossing the main intersection.

One part of Schalles proposal was a “bike box.” The picture shows it best. It consists of a large green area on the pavement about a car length behind the normal stopping point at a light. The box is as wide as one lane. The idea is that cyclists can come to the light and gather in the box in front of the cars to get head start when the light changes and be seen better.

Apparently, the city was approached about this and explained that the whole traffic light pavement detector system would need to be redesigned and redone. This has thrown a wet blanket on the idea.

But, the cycling advocates showed how much pull they have with Campbell in the councilmember’s September 30, 2022, memo titled “Fiscal Year 2024 Budgets Recommendations.” Schalles included a paragraph from the “Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety” section of Campbell’s budget memo. It was, not surprisingly, word for word what they wanted.

Intersection Improvements at Westbound Sports Arena Blvd and West Point Loma Blvd At the intersection where westbound Sports Arena Blvd turns into West Point Loma Boulevard, the existing Class II bike lane (which should be a Class IV lane) disappears, forcing cyclists to make a dangerous unmarked merge into the traffic lane before merging back into the Class IV bike lane on West Point Loma Blvd. This conflict could be quickly fixed by installing a bike box that would put cyclists ahead of stopped traffic on Sports Arena Blvd and moving the loop detector under the bike box. The city has already identified this intersection as needing safety improvement via a traffic service request and placed it on the unfunded needs list.

The cycling advocates clearly wrote this language. When they came to the Midway group in September, they were stressing a need for Midway’s quick action because the deadline was approaching for budget recommendations. They were in a hurry. Neither the PCPB nor the Midway group approved the request. The PCPB wanted to hear what Midway thought first and Midway was not ready to make a decision.

So, it appears the cycling advocates went around both groups and went directly to Campbell — who, of course, — is running for office. The cycling community is politically active so being on their side could mean more votes for Campbell. It is clear that Campbell would have put anything in the budget proposal as long as it gained her some votes. Even a request like this that did not have any support from the community

The mystery is why bother to ask the planning group for support when this has passed them by?

What was missing from Schalles’s presentation was any information about accidents in this intersection attributable to the bike lane misconnect. Safety is a concern of everyone and if there are sufficient accounts of injuries or accidents were provided, the ideas would gain more support. There was no such information

The cycling request did not sit well with group member Judy Holliday. She recounted the concerns she explained in the September meeting again. Holliday’s main objection was that she has been bird-dogging the city for pedestrian improvements for several years and the process of studying the intersection for those improvements is underway. Holliday did not want to stall the progress of those improvements with new cycling requests.

The Midway group continued its loose adherence to meeting protocol on the cycling issue. This was listed as an “Action Item.” No action was taken after all the discussion. Action items require an action. A motion must be made to approve, deny, or table an action item and a vote is then taken. None of this happened.

The discussion ended with a comment from the chair, Dike Anyiwo. He said no action was really needed because Campbell already did it with her memo. While this was true and the whole discussion was a waste of time, an action still needed to be taken.

Cannabis Outlet

The agenda description of this Action Item was “Conditional Use Permit – PTS 699385.” This did not meet even the bare minimum of the standard for describing an agenda item. No one reading this would have any idea what it was about.

The previous item Action Item description about the intersection was equally inadequate, “Consideration of Joint Peninsula/MPH Safety Letter.” Anyone reading that would not know it had anything to do with cycling improvements or that intersection. This is actually the modus operandi of the cycling advocates.

In the case of this second Action Item, the Conditional Use Permit was a request by a cannabis outlet that wants to open a new place at 3751 Pacific Highway. Cannabis outlets can be controversial and when they are on the agenda, oftentimes opponents show up. None showed for this and, with that agenda description, it was not surprising.

The presenter explained that redistricting had changed the boundaries of council district two. The district had its maximum of four allowable cannabis outlets before redistricting but now only had two. This meant that two spots are available in D2. The city has said first come first served and it appears this group may be first.

The business plans to construct a new, one-story, 3,653 building. It will be a retail and delivery outlet only, no other cannabis-related activities will occur. The building looked like an improvement for the area and the cannabis business had satisfied all of the city’s requirements pertaining to such a business.

A motion was made and voted on and declared unanimous at 6-0. Once again, Midway appeared to ignore its by-laws. In order for a motion to pass or fail, there must be a quorum that is defined in the by-laws as:

(vi) QUORUM AND PUBLIC ATTENDANCE – A quorum, defined as a majority of non-vacant seats of a planning group, must be present in order to conduct business, to vote on projects, and to take actions at regular or special planning group meetings.

The Midway group used to consist of 15 members but it was chronically unable to fill all those seats. The group petitioned, and was granted permission for, a reduction to 12 members. That has not helped because the group is still unable to fill even those 12 seats.

The problem with the cannabis outlet vote was that the total of six votes was not a majority. In order for the action vote to be legal, the item would have needed seven votes.

Chair Report

During his chair report, Anyiwo talked about Measure C, the ballot measure that seeks to remove the Midway area from the 30-foot coastal height limit restriction.  In the course of explaining his actions, Anyiwo made a very interesting admission.

Anyiwo explained that he and Kathy Kenton, the previous group chair, had been very involved in the previous Measure E effort but were not involved this time. He did not give much of an explanation. He went on to explain his own efforts supporting Measure C such as appearing at various events like the Ocean Beach Town Council.

Anyiwo explained he was doing this “On my own, not so much the group because we have not taken a position Measure C. We were unanimous on Measure E.”

Let that sink in folks, the community planning group at the center of the whole Measure C discussion has not taken a position on Measure C. What happened to this group and the two who were very active the last go round? Very odd.



{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Trevor Hill October 27, 2022 at 3:23 pm

The conspiratorial tone of this newspaper with respect to any and all community planning issues is really immature and annoying. The answers to all these ‘honest questions’ (whose purpose is to invite conspiracy speculation rather than provide any real information to readers) are obvious and don’t even require much research.

First off, the claim that Alternative #1 was the public’s choice is made completely absent of any evidence or citation. I have a feeling that is the writer’s opinion, and certainly not a matter of record. As an OB resident who uses a bike and transit, I definitely prefer an improved transit station, and as a renter living in a completely unaffordable city, I definitely prefer more housing and more density. There will never be ‘high-rises’ in any part of Midway — demand for those barely even exists in Downtown. I would, however, love to see buildings up to 6-8 floors that could help with our massive undersupply of housing. The Navy isn’t hiding information from the public, you’re just choosing to read into everything they say ungenerously. Plus, it’s an empty plot of land — why would you expect a different development plan from the City or SANDAG when they’ve both been very active partners in the redevelopment of Midway? The Navy is just doing what anyone else would do with that massive, valuable piece of land. The purpose of the transit station, I imagine, would be to replace the Old Town Station, which as our busiest station could certainly use a capacity bump.

As far as the bike lanes, I don’t understand what’s so insidious about Campbell working with bike advocates. It’s not a cynical vote grab — it’s just that their interests align and she’s trusting the experts’ opinions. Further, you’ve clearly never ridden a bike on San Diego’s streets if you think that only intersections where people are murdered by motorists need improvements. In that world, an intersection that’s so dangerous that nobody rides their bike there would need no improvements! As someone who has ridden through there many times, I can tell you I avoid it as much as possible. It’s not a safe place to ride, and I invite you to hop on your bike and try it out and then tell me otherwise.

An OBcian who cares about people other than pissed off suburban motorists and homeowners


Geoff Page October 28, 2022 at 12:12 pm

Well, there is a difference between a “conspiratorial tone” and reporting on actual conspiracies, Trevor. Kind of like the guy who processes fish, he’s going to smell like fish. If it is your contention that there are no conspiracies involving “community planning issues,” then it is clear you have not paid attention or you are being disingenuous.

No, it was not the writer’s opinion that Alternative #1 was the public’s choice. Yes, I did not provide a source because anyone who was involved with this the first time it came up in 2021 would remember. A poll was taken, public comments were taken, but finding that information now is not easy because all of that is gone from the Navy’s website. Maybe someone has saved it, I didn’t.

“There will never be ‘high-rises’ in any part of Midway — demand for those barely even exists in Downtown.” First, high rises are being built all over downtown. And, second, can you imagine the view from a very tall building in the Midway area? You don’t think that would saleable?

“The Navy isn’t hiding information from the public, you’re just choosing to read into everything they say ungenerously.” Where did I write that the Navy was hiding anything? To the contrary, they are being very open. They have told the public, that overwhelmingly rejected Alternate #4, that this is the design for their EIR. That’s pretty honest.

“Plus, it’s an empty plot of land…” I’m not sure what you are referring to here, the NAVWAR site is not an empty plot of land.

“The purpose of the transit station, I imagine, would be to replace the Old Town Station, which as our busiest station could certainly use a capacity bump.” Well, you are using your imagination there. If that was the idea, why didn’t the Navy just say so?

“As far as the bike lanes, I don’t understand what’s so insidious about Campbell working with bike advocates. It’s not a cynical vote grab — it’s just that their interests align and she’s trusting the experts’ opinions.” The bike advocates were unable to convince two planning boards to immediately support their proposal. The planning boards are elected to represent communities. Rather than work in the system and work on their ideas to get that support, they did an end around and used a political connection to a council person who is running for office. It was insidious and it was a vote grab.

“Further, you’ve clearly never ridden a bike on San Diego’s streets if you think that only intersections where people are murdered by motorists need improvements.” Now you have identified yourself Trevor, only the cycling advocates characterize accidents where people are killed by cars as “murders.”

“As someone who has ridden through there many times, I can tell you I avoid it as much as possible.” That sentence is too much like shooting fish in a barrel.

Your sign off, “An OBcian who cares about people other than pissed off suburban motorists and homeowners” was too much like your previous sentence. You do realize what the word “suburban” means? And what do homeowners have to do with this?


Vern October 28, 2022 at 6:56 pm

“… as a renter living in a completely unaffordable city, I definitely prefer more housing and more density…”

Wait… WTF? Is this the YIMBY’s trickle-down magical thinking?


Paul Grimes November 2, 2022 at 9:21 pm

The bike box idea is an interesting one that could be the cheapest way out of a city screwup when the W. Pt. Loma Blvd road diet was put into place and the ped island wasn’t shrunk a bit while it underwent ADA amp work.
The city spent a lot of money adding those yellow-bumped ADA ramps at the location and redoing all the concrete. There was plenty of room to move the curb back 3 or 4 feet for a bike lane, but it sure seems one group in the city doesn’t talk to the other. When they were working on it I communicated with the city about moving the curb to no avail. The city is adding so many bike lanes and it’s expensive. Maybe they should do fewer and do them correctly.


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