Today – Thursday – Rally to Save the Height Limit and Oppose Measure C

by on November 3, 2022 · 6 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach, San Diego

There is a coming together today, Thursday, of all the various groups and city council candidates who want to save the 30-foot height limit and oppose Measure C.  It’s along Sea World Drive at 11 am.

The Sierra Club, Keep the Coast 30, Raise the Balloon, Save San Diego’s Character, Save Our Access as well as council candidates Tommy Hough and Linda Lukacs will be in attendance.

Measure C will eliminate the 30-foot height limit throughout the entire Midway planning area, over 1300 acres. The measure is the most serious threat to the 50-year old height limit, established by a citizens’ initiative in 1972 that was approved by over 63% of the vote.

Location: Take Sea World Drive to South Shores Pkwy, 1 mile west of I-5. Turn towards the river at the traffic light, onto the frontage road. Parking spaces are available.

This is a beautiful location with open-space views of the Midway community,  in the center of the low-lying coastal corridor.

Featured guests will include:

Lisa Ross, Sierra Club
John McNab, Save Our Access
Linda Lukacs, City Council Candidate, District 2
Tommy Hough, City Council Candidate, District 6
Patty Ducey-Brooks, Save San Diego’s Character
Jim LaMattery, Raise the Balloon
Frank Gormlie, Keep the Coast 30
Geoff Page, Keep the Coast 30
Mandy Havlik, Pt. Loma
Margaret Virissimo, Pt. Loma
Phil Halpern, Mission Hills

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

retired botanist November 3, 2022 at 4:38 pm

Power to the people. Good luck, will look fwd to the reporting….kudos to you all for pushing back.


unwashedwalmartThong November 3, 2022 at 7:02 pm

I voted against it.
Yet, I was perplexed as to why there was no voice of compromise. The measure is just to eliminate a height limit. Perhaps raise the limit to 40 feet? Or 50 feet? Nope.


Geoff Page November 4, 2022 at 12:44 pm

There was no compromise because they never offered to put a height limit in the ballot measure. Had they made an offer and taken public opinion on it. a compromise would very well have happened. They just do not want any restrictions at all.


laplayaheritage November 4, 2022 at 7:11 am
Measure C 16-24 Minutes
Measure C 2-3, 8-12 Minutes
Campaign says ballot measure will protect single-family-home zoning. It doesn’t.

NOV. 4, 2022 5 AM PT
Measure C does one big thing, which could lead to many other big things.

What it doesn’t do is “protect single family homes.”

That’s what recent mailers say will result if voters lift the 50-year-old, 30-foot coastal height limit in the Midway District.

While using falsehoods and sleight of hand can help achieve a political goal, they also can signal something else: What’s being sold isn’t appealing to the targeted voters. In that case, promise them something else.

Scrapping the height limit in the Midway and sports arena area could clear the way for plans to build thousands of homes, parks, entertainment venues and a new arena — though they have yet to be detailed or approved.

A lot of people think that’s a good idea. In November 2020, San Diego city voters approved a similar measure by a 13-point margin. But that project was deemed in violation of state law and eventually the election results were tossed out because a judge agreed with a lawsuit contending the proper environmental review was not done. (Measure C also faces an environmental lawsuit.)

Legalities aside, given that vote, approval of Measure C early on seemed like it should be a slam dunk. As before, a developer is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to get the measure passed, while opponents are largely running a low-budget, grassroots campaign.

But this isn’t a simple replay of two years ago. The circumstances of the election and the team proposing to redevelop the city property are very different. It’s not the same electorate, the developer this time around has well-chronicled baggage and the city’s process of selecting the builder created skepticism — even among some City Council members.

It’s hard to say whether opposition has grown or support has softened for lifting the height limit, but Measure C could have a tougher time at the ballot box than its predecessor.

Voter turnout almost certainly will be lower than during the 2020 presidential election, which can give the advantage to Republicans, who tend to be more dedicated voters in midterm elections. The mailers in question were specifically aimed at Republicans, suggesting that’s an area Measure C supporters are worried about.

Further, general anti-development sentiment has intensified over the past two years in the wake of numerous state laws and local ordinances that seek to increase housing density. This is where it seems the method to the mailers’ madness comes in.

The high cost of housing in San Diego is attributed — at least in part — to low supply. People often say they are in favor of more housing, just not in their neighborhoods — especially regarding housing for lower-income residents.

Thus, the illusion that high-rise apartment and condominium buildings in the Midway District would keep further development out of other neighborhoods might sound appealing.

The mailers say Measure C will add “more housing for low income San Diegans to a commercial zone” and by doing so “maintains single family home zoning in beach communities and other neighborhoods.”

The text of Measure C only asks whether the Midway-Pacific Community Plan area should be exempt from the coastal height limit. It says nothing about housing or protecting single-family zoning. Further, state and local laws allow up to a handful of units to be built on lots almost everywhere, effectively doing away with single-family zoning.

A note on the mailers said they were paid for by “Affordable Homes for San Diego” led by “Chris Cate — Yes on C,” with major financing coming from Midway Rising, the team selected by the city to redevelop the city-owned arena property. Cate is a Republican on the San Diego City Council and a leader of the limit-lifting effort.

The mailers include quotes from prominent Republicans and former Republicans — and identify them as such — about how Measure C will put housing in the appropriate place and, according to one comment, will “protect the character of your neighborhood.”

That’s a buzz phrase often used by people when opposing development in their community.

Among those appearing in the mailers are former City Councilmembers Mark Kersey, Scott Sherman and Byron Wear, along with Paula Whitsell, chair of the Republican Party of San Diego County.

Such an overt battle for Republican votes is a new development. Some of the strongest opposition to the 2020 height-limit measure came from the city’s more Republican areas along the northern Interstate 15 corridor, particularly Rancho Peñasquitos.

While there seems to be a more partisan flavor to the campaign than in 2020, it only goes so far. Strong opposition to lifting the height limit emanates from heavily Democratic beach communities. Meanwhile, residents in Democratic neighborhoods of central San Diego such as North Park and Talmadge have organized to oppose increased housing density.

Still another difference in this year’s election is the opposition of radio talk-show host Carl DeMaio, also a Republican former San Diego City Council member.

DeMaio’s Reform Local Government committee has spent $32,500 to defeat Measure C, which is a far cry from the $460,00 spent in support of the measure by Midway Rising between Sept. 25 and Oct. 22, according to David Garrick of The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Most opponents raise concern that lifting the height limit will result in blocked vistas and congestion that will affect areas beyond the Midway District. DeMaio initially focused more on what he considered to be a lack of transparency and accountability in the development process.

“I don’t think this is a fair and open competition,” he said in August.

Some City Council members expressed concern about what they saw as a rushed selection process, poor vetting that did not uncover legal issues involving the lead developer, and whether the development team was qualified — or would even see the project through.

News reports that lead developer Brad Termini and his wife contributed more than $100,000 to Mayor Todd Gloria’s 2020 campaign cast further clouds over the selection.

There’s often controversy and politics swirling around development of public land, and there’s been a lot of attention on that regarding Measure C.

None of it helps build voter confidence.


Mat Wahlstrom November 4, 2022 at 8:28 am

Good stuff by Smolens (as usual): “While using falsehoods and sleight of hand can help achieve a political goal, they also can signal something else: What’s being sold isn’t appealing to the targeted voters. In that case, promise them something else.” The ‘Yes on C’ forces are getting desperate, as they’ve sunk too much money to take a loss. Get ready for a last-ditch spurt of dirty politicking.


Geoff Page November 4, 2022 at 12:46 pm

I too did a double take when I saw the latest mailer that was saying a yes vote on C would protect single family homes. The feeling I got from this mailer was, “vote yes on C folks so we can put the poor people in the Midway area and protect our neighborhoods from these things being built near us.” It was as bad as any I have seen, appealing to the lowest of human nature. But, none of this housing stuff has anything to do with Measure C, the measure says nothing about any of those promises. If all those promises were solid, why weren’t they included in the ballot language?


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