Without a Quorum or Proper Procedures for Minutes and Review, It’s Business as Usual With Midway Planners

by on November 29, 2022 · 13 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

A person attending a Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group’s regular monthly meeting for the first time might have found a number of things about the November 16 meeting to be puzzling. The meeting was really illustrative of this “community planning group.”

Taking Roll

The puzzling would have begun with taking roll.

Chair Dike Anyiwo took roll counting six group members present. Anyiwo determined that was a quorum. This was the same as the attendance at the October meeting. As related in The Rag story about the October meeting, the Midway group used to consist of 15 members. It was chronically unable to fill all those seats and the group petitioned the city to reduce its group to 12 members.

The reduction has not helped because the group is still unable to fill even those 12 seats. There are currently three vacancies. And, only six people show up for the meetings. This is not a quorum, Midway would need seven people to have a quorum.


The next curiosity would be the agenda.

Planning group agendas are supposed to be published 72 hours in advance of the meeting. In the rules before COVID, when the meetings were held in public spaces, agendas were supposed to be posted at the meeting sites. If the group had a website, the agenda would also be posted there. In years past, the local papers such as The Peninsula Beacon would run small notices for free.

The Midway group has an agenda but it still meets on Zoom, so there is no public place designated for a meeting. A public space for simply putting up meeting notices apparently has not been considered. The agendas are on the city’s planning department site and Midway’s website. But navigating the Planning Department website takes an effort.

The Midway group’s website is very basic. It does not, however, have a tab for agendas. It does have an “Events” tab under which are the meeting agenda. A quick look at this website, without exploration, would give a visitor the impression there are no agendas there.

Planning groups are also required to keep, and publish, meeting minutes. The first regular order of business on these agendas is usually “Approval of Minutes.” During the November 16 meeting the Midway group voted to approve minutes from June and October. An audience member might wonder what happened to the July, August, and September minutes because nothing was said.

Finding an answer to the missing meeting minutes would also be hard because the group does not publish its meeting minutes. There is a place on the City of San Diego Planning Department website for each planning board to publish monthly agendas and monthly minutes. The last Midway meeting minutes posted on the city site are from August 19, 2020. The minutes are not on the Midway website either.

Government Office Reports

The next thing that might puzzle a person attending a Midway meeting was the list of 13 government entities listed under “Government Office Reports” section of the agenda, especially when only three of the 13 showed up. In the past, more of those listed did send representatives but that attendance has fallen off drastically. These reports used to make up a big part of Midway meetings.

The first of the three government reports was from Casey Snell, representing the San Diego Housing Commission.  Snell gave a report on the new shelter at the County Health Services Complex on Rosecrans. Apparently, it is full and 70% of those entering were from the Midway area. Snell said 345 people entered, 241 from Midway. The shelter only has 150 beds, so the numbers are spread over the two months of people coming and going since it has been open.

Because the Midway group expressed an interest about where the people entering the shelter are coming from, Snell said her group now manually tracks that information. Apparently, there is nothing in the main system that tracks where people came from. Midway’s concern was that they had enough candidates in their area for the shelter and did not want to see more brought in from elsewhere.

When the smaller shelter opened in the old Pier One store on Sports Arena a year ago, the Midway group asked this same question and was told the same thing, that the shelter system does not track where the people come from. Snell said the only shelter that they track this information for is the Rosecrans shelter because of Midway’s question.

The second government report was from the Navy’s representative, Muska Laiq, who gave an update on the NAVWAR  redevelopment project. The Navy issued a solicitation November 15 to begin the “competitive solicitation process to identify a potential master developer for revitalization of OTC.” The initials OTC are for Old Town Campus, which is what the Navy has dubbed its properties on Pacific Highway. “Campus” is a much nicer designation for the Navy’s rundown properties

For a look at the solicitation, go here, https://navwar-revitalization.com/development/.

Laiq gave a timeline of coming events starting with a pre-proposal conference and a site tour on December 7. This is only for parties interested in proposing on the redevelopment project. Proposers may submit questions prior to the pre-proposal conference up until November 30.

The next deadline is January 24, the final day proposers may submit “clarifying” questions about the solicitation. By February 7, 2023, the proposers will then submit Statements of Qualifications. On April 10, 2023, the Navy will notify the shortlisted entities and will release “Step 2 RFP” Data Pack. All of this effort is to engage a potential “master developer” for the NAVWAR site.

The third representative was from Assemblymember Chris Ward office. The only news was that the group would be getting a new representative from Ward’s office.

Information Items

There was only one item titled “Post Measure C Discussion – So Now What?” What actually transpired was a presentation by Midway Rising, the development group that was chosen by the mayor as the group to redevelop the city’s Sports Arena properties. Reading the agenda, no one would have guessed that Midway Rising would even be there much less giving an update.

Midway Rising poured money into the Yes On Measure C with a series of mailers filled with misinformation and distortions, let’s tell it like it is-lies, designed to get people to vote for the Measure. Shelby Jordan, representing Midway Rising, explained what would be coming in the future including six months of site investigations and traffic and transportation studies. They hope to have the Environmental Impact Report ready by next summer.

During discussion of the development, Tom Mullaney, a community activist who worked hard to defeat Measure C, graciously congratulated the group on the success of Measure C. Mullaney said a few words about what Measure C really meant, not what the proponents said it meant. He then urged the developer and the Midway group to includes parks, ball fields, and a dog park in the development for the thousands of new residents they were planning for.

Anyiwo responded with an incredibly ungracious response to Mullaney. Anyiwo recently moved, employment-wise, from the San Diego Chamber of Commerce to SANDAG. His motivations are crystal clear. He and former Midway chair Cathy Kenton were very active when the first ballot measure to lower the height limit, Measure E, was up for a vote. For reasons he did not explain, Anyiwo said he was not active this time around “outside of the odd media” encounter.  There were actually quite a few of these.

Anyiwo gave a long-winded statement and ended with this:

At the end of the day, their project (Midway Rising’s) is in our backyard and respectfully, it is imperative that our backyard is maintained to our standards.

The comment was laughable. To Midway’s standards? Looking at Midway, it appears they need to raise their standards. What Anyiwo was saying to Mullaney was your group lost, we won, and we will decide what happens in Midway. We do not need – or want – your recommendations. This was not the first time Midway has exhibited this isolationist attitude.

Action Items

The last curiosity of the Midway meeting was the section titled “Action Items.” These items are usually projects of some sort that the planning group hears and makes formal recommendations on to the city. Making land use recommendations is the main function of community planning groups.

Applicants with projects needing the group’s approval attend the meeting to present the details and obtain a vote of support. Instead of having this item at the front of the agenda, Midway had it at the end. This meant that the project applicants had to sit through all the government reports and information items and everything else before getting to their business, the only real business on the agenda.

Most planning groups have subcommittees, the main subcommittee usually being a project review group. The subcommittee hears the projects first, investigates the sites, and makes a recommendation to the main group.

The Midway group is an oddity in that it has no subcommittees at all. The first time they see a project is at a regular meeting, allowing virtually no time to review a project or visit a project site.

The one project at the November meeting was a new cannabis outlet at 1215 Nutmeg St. In order to have the business, the applicant needs a Conditional Use Permit, or CUP, because the current allowed use in the area does not include this kind of business.  This is one of the types of recommendations planning groups make.

The applicant plans to refurbish an existing building on the site that resembles a Quonset hut.  For those unfamiliar with the term, Quonset huts were very popular with the military. As described in Wikipedia “a lightweight prefabricated structure of corrugated galvanized steel having a semi cylindrical cross-section.”  (This writer lived in one for a while as a Navy kid. It’s hard to hang things on curved walls.)

Other than cleaning up the property, the only construction will be the interior remodeling for the building. After 15 minutes, the group voted unanimously to approve the project. The applicants waited for an hour and a half before getting their 15 minutes. Once again, as happened in October, the group voted on an action item without a proper quorum.

If the person attending a Midway meeting for the first time had never attended another planning group’s meeting, their perception of what a planning group is, and does, after this meeting would resemble how the blind men perceived the elephant. They would have no idea because this is not really a planning group at all.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Torri Cable November 29, 2022 at 4:25 pm

I’m confused as to how any meeting without a quorum is considered valid. Is there any way to hold this group accountable when they don’t follow the rules?


Geoff Page November 29, 2022 at 5:49 pm

They can be de-certified and were at risk for that when they couldn’t seat 15 members. Reducing to 12 helped for a while but they can’t even fill those seats.


Gail Laurie Friedt November 30, 2022 at 10:21 am

Not sure what the purpose of this piece is, but why not inform your readers how to find the planning groups? It’s fairly easy for people to find any of the planning groups in San Diego. First you can just google the name and it’s the first item that pops up. I googled “Midway Planning Group” and it was the first entry. Then you can hit the “subscribe to our mailing list” and you can sign up for the 42+ planning groups and many other of San Diego updates.



Frank Gormlie November 30, 2022 at 10:37 am

The post is a report of the Midway planners’ non-quorum monthly meeting. Wasn’t that obvious?


Geoff Page November 30, 2022 at 11:07 am

Your comment makes me think you did not read the piece entirely. I related how the agendas are posted on both the Midway group’s website and on the Planning Department website.


Gail Friedt November 30, 2022 at 11:43 am

Oh, I read the piece. Why not do one on each of the CPG’s then? And, even better, provide links for people to find how to get agendas and even volunteer to be on a committee?


Frank Gormlie November 30, 2022 at 1:13 pm

Okay, good advice. I’ll send our bevy of writers and reporters out to cover them all…. oh, wait. Just what kind of resources do you think we have? This is a platform for OB and Pt Loma and that’s good advice for our mainstream press to jump on. So, why don’t they?


Geoff Page November 30, 2022 at 2:18 pm

No, I don’t think you did or you would not have made your first comment.

I did this piece on Midway because I have been reporting on their monthly meetings for years, something you may not know if you haven’t been following The Rag until now, when someone apparently asked you to jump in here for them. Why else would you have an interest in this piece on Midway when it is nowhere near your own neighborhood?


Gail Friedt November 30, 2022 at 2:16 pm

Got it. Well, you’ve run plenty of stories about Uptown Planners and that’s nowhere near OB and Pt Loma. Isn’t that obvious?


Frank Gormlie November 30, 2022 at 2:21 pm

Yup, that’s right. And they were written by Mat, the chair of that planning committee.


Frank Gormlie November 30, 2022 at 4:11 pm

Ah, Gail, here you are – you were a panelist on “reforming” community planning groups back in February this year, which Geoff Page reported on. Are you concerned at all that the Midway planners went ahead with their meeting, made decisions, etc. without a quorum?


Paul Grimes December 1, 2022 at 9:51 pm

Is it just a coincidence that the Navy is opening up the Midway area for ceding its land for an assault by high rises on Pearl Harbor Day?


Geoff Page December 1, 2022 at 10:06 pm

Yea, I noticed that too, Paul, but I’m sure it is coincidence. That date is really etched in this country’s memory, is it not?


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