AUG. 24, 2021 - Anaheim, San Diego and Oakland are all hoping to give their sports arenas a boost by giving the surrounding real estate a makeover. In high-gloss renderings, developers promise walkable, transit-friendly cityscapes featuring housing, hotels, shops and restaurants with plenty of inviting green space. To borrow from “Field of Dreams,” if you build it they will come. And these cities are wagering the improvements will be enough to get professional sports teams to stay.
AUG. 11, 2021 - Rep. Scott Peters
San Diego has long been a proud partner in our national defense. The Department of Defense assets located here in the San Diego region are crucial to protecting our democracy and keeping our nation free. The military is also a cornerstone of our regional economy, responsible for 20% of our region’s jobs.
Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group
August 11, 2021
Navy OTC Revitalization EIS Project Manager Attention: Ron Bochenek
750 Pacific Highway, Floor 12 San Diego, CA 92132-0058
Submitted online at https://navwar-revitalization.com/comments/ and by mail
Re: MPHCPG Comments to the Navy Old town Campus (OTC) Revitalization Draft EIS
The Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group (MPHCPG) is the City of San Diego's recognized planning board for the community where the Old Town Campus (OTC) is located. The comments and questions presented here result from MPHCPG's review and efforts to digest the Draft EIS.
This document was approved by a unanimous vote at the MPHCPG meeting held on July 21, 2021.
The San Diego City Council approved the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan (MPH Community Plan) Update in 2018 after an eleven-year planning process. The Community Plan is the guiding document for the community's and the City's vision for redevelopment and revitalization of the planning area.
The development of a strong public realm and unique districts and villages connected through a system of landscaped streets to Mission Bay, the San Diego River, and San Diego Bay, and traditional and nontraditional parks within the community to enhance community character and livability. To achieve this vision, the following Guiding Principles provide the framework for the more detailed Plan policies:
Distinctive Districts and Villages. Districts and Villages with their own distinct range of uses, character, streetscapes, places, urban form and building design as an integral aspect of Midway - Pacific Highway's identity and character.
A Center of Economic Activity. A sub-regional employment center with employment land for the development of office and research uses that can provide jobs in proximity to residential and commercial uses and transit will support the economic viability and attractiveness of the community.
A Complete Mobility System. A mobility system that provides options for people to walk, ride a bicycle, take transit, or drive will support the economic growth and identity of the community and enhance its livability and character.
A Place Connected to its Context and to the Regional Recreational and Open Space Areas. The reestablishment of connections to the Presidio, San Diego Bay, Mission Bay and the San Diego River, and integration of Midway - Pacific Highway with the surrounding communities.
The plan embraces a vibrant community, increased residential, and upgraded commercial and entertainment land uses. Rezoning enacted during the community plan update incorporates multiple mixed-used zones with building height limitations ranging from 40-100 feet.
With the passage of Measure E in November of 2020, the thirty-foot height limit was removed from the Midway Community. Litigation seeks to overturn Measure E and maintain the previous height limitation. Regardless of the legal matter outcome, the community is limited to no more than one hundred feet of building height.
In its meetings with the MPHCPG, the Navy has continuously stressed that it wants to be a good neighbor, embraces the adopted community plan, and agrees with the plan's goals and the community's vision.
• How do Alternatives 2-5 align with a community plan and zoning that limits construction height to 40-100 feet?
• If Measure E is overturned in the courts, how can Alternatives 2-5 justify constructing buildings as tall as three hundred fifty (350) feet?
• How do Alternatives 2-5 conform to the Community plan?
• How do Alternatives 2-5 conform to the Navy's commitment to be a good neighbor?
The Midway-Pacific Highway area is primarily a commercial/industrial area with heavy retail, entertainment, airport services support, and a small residential community. The area is significantly blighted, traffic impacted, and due to the thirty-foot height restriction inadvertently imposed nearly forty years ago, the community has been unable to redevelop. The updated community plan and Measure E are the cornerstones of the redevelopment efforts. Alternatives 2-5 present options for building heights of as much as 350 feet, more than three times the maximum height allowed under current zoning in the community.
Two of the five options include a Multi-Modal Transit Center that would further choke vehicle traffic to and through the community making daily life nearly impossible for residents and neighboring communities. Alternatives 2-5 propose to build as many as 10,000+ additional residential units.
Draft EIS Page 325: 184.108.40.206 Land Use Region of Influence only listed as affecting properties within 0.25 miles of Navy-owned land when it will likely impact a much larger radius since the area is a major transportation corridor for Peninsula, Ocean Beach, Old Town, and Mission Hills travelers. The current 0.25-mile radius includes very few residences and encompasses primarily Old Town, industrial areas of Midway with large open parking areas, and MCRD (see figure 3.4- 1 and 3.4-4).
We believe a more realistic Region of Influence of a 2-mile radius should be used to evaluate potential effects and incorporate a majority of the MPH Community Plan area.
• How do Alternatives 2-5 comply and align with a community plan and zoning that limits construction to 40-100 feet? And why shouldn't the Navy adopt the guidelines of the local community instead of ignoring them?
• Considering the increased congestion, how is a Transit Center justified at the proposed location?
• The community plan calls for an additional 10,000 residential units. Why does the Navy propose building all of them on its property, preventing other property owners in the community from redeveloping their properties?
Draft EIS Page 334: Table 3.4-2 references MPH Community Plan update results in an approximate 36–49-acre parkland deficit at full build-out.
• How will the Navy's density increase/decrease this deficit (see table 3.4-3)?
Draft EIS Page 348: "Conclusion: The inconsistency with the community plan land use densities would result in a significant impact relative to current planned land use within the Midway- Pacific Highway Community Plan, although that plan may be updated in the future in light of the Navy's proposed mixed-use development and the removal of the 30-foot height limit in this area."
• Does the Navy anticipate or expect the City of San Diego to modify the recently updated MPH Community Plan after the Navy OTC decision has been reached or after the 30-foot coastal height limit is presumably lifted?
• Recognizing as it does in the above statement the inconsistency with the community plan land use, why hasn't the Navy made a better effort to 'be a good neighbor' instead of suggesting the plan be amended?
• Since there is no guarantee that the litigation will be successfully adjudicated in the City of San Diego's favor, how can the Navy assume the 30-foot coastal height limit will be lifted?
Draft EIS Page 21, Table ES-1 Summary of Potential Impacts to Resource Areas, Alternatives 2 through 5 each state that proposed densities are inconsistent with the MPH Community Plan and result in a significant impact.
• Was a lower density model or a model without a residential component considered like the downtown Navy Broadway Complex which allows zero residential units?
Per the MPH Community Plan, portions of the Navy OTC Site 2 fall within the Dutch Flats Urban Village CPIOZ, which aims to allow for a Bay-to-Bay connection.
• Was this fact taken into consideration on where/how to allocate density and park space?
• Was the Navy OTC site modeled using any of the MPH Community Plan's most common Mixed Commercial Residential density zoning of 44 or 73 dwelling units per acre at the 65' or even 100' height limits?
o If not, why not, and if so, what is the maximum number of residential units achievable with and without a transit center?
• What is the max density allowable if subject to the Midway-Pacific Highway CP's land use ratios?
• Will there be any common areas or services provided for the community, military personnel, veterans, or the homeless?
• What will be the negative and positive effects on both business and property owners in the Midway and Old Town communities?
• How was the proposed amount of commercial space determined? Did the calculations consider other large, proposed projects (Riverwalk, Sports Arena, SDSU West, The Post, etc.)?
• How will adding the proposed commercial space to the Central SD inventory affect other businesses and property owners?
• Why is high-density residential recommended on the Navy OTC site compared to the downtown Navy Broadway Complex which features zero residential units and only one 300' hotel tower where the skyline is less affected, and more public services exist?
• Why is this project projected to feature such limited park/open space compared to other recent PPP developments?
• Why doesn't this project address any of the parkland shortages identified in the MPH Community Plan?
The MPHCPG community, and particularly the central Midway community, is currently significantly traffic congested. Access to the I-5 and I-8 and personnel traveling to and from Naval Base Point Loma make traveling in and through Midway difficult under current conditions. While alternate modes of transportation are desirable and even preferred, it remains to be seen whether San Diegans and visitors will embrace these alternatives at a level that will make a difference as the commercial and residential populations increase. The Draft EIS states that nearly 70,000 additional daily automobile trips will result from this development, representing less than 20% of the acreage in the community.
• Per the Mobility section of the MPH Community Plan, will the Navy require the selected developer of Alternatives 2-5 to work with SANDAG and Caltrans to help design, fund, and build the missing I-8 East to I-5 North and I-5 South to I-8 West connections before completion of any residential units?
• Does the Navy believe it is reasonable or necessary to increase traffic to this level to achieve its goals?
• Traffic analysis used in the EIS was taken from January 2020. Why January? Why not an average of each month? (San Diego, with its tourist-based economy, clearly has much higher traffic counts in the summer months) Was any study done on busier months?
• Were the potential effects on traffic and security of a full Transit Center compared to a regular MTS trolley station considered?
• How would a full transit center that connects to the airport affect the viability of the existing Old Town Transit Center nearby?
• Was the viability of a transit center (ridership, financial, and traffic patterns) located approximately 3.5 miles away from an airport terminal ever studied or tested?
• TRANS MGMT 1 - TDM program: How much does Trans MGMT 1 reduce traffic using incentives? What beneficial outcome can be derived from the use of this alternative?
• Who is responsible for paying for TRANs MGMT 2? How beneficial is TSM in real numbers? Does it move traffic from one level to another?
• Who pays for Trans MGMT 3?
• Who pays for Trans - MIT 1?
• Who pays for Trans - MIT 2?
• How much benefit to the traffic situation does Trans MIT 3 provide?
• Does the private developer share in the implementation of Trans MIT 4?
• How much benefit is derived from the implementation of Trans MIT 5?
• How much benefit from MIT 6?
• The same follows for MIT 7 through MIT 52, where the solution is TRANS MGMT 1 & 2. How much benefit derives, and is it enough to alleviate traffic? Also, who pays?
• Trans MIT 33, 34 - If not contemplated in the Midway Community Plan but additional lanes are needed, who pays for this upgrade to Pacific Highway?
• Who pays for TRANS MIT 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 35, 47?
• Trans MIT 53 - Pedestrian Improvements - Who pays for these improvements?
• Who is responsible for preparing the plan discussed in Trans MIT 55?
• Trans MIT 56 - 58: Who is responsible for the preparation and implementation of this plan?
• Was any analysis done on the impact of exceeding the Midway Community Plan's increased density as it relates to traffic? If not, why not?
• If the Midway plan contemplates a total of 10,000 new residential units, and this development results in an additional 10,000 units, what happens to traffic in the area?
Midway presently has one public school and one fire station approximately 1.5 miles away from the OTC site.
• How will Midway's public services be affected/improved?
• Will the federal fire station at MCRD serve the Navy OTC site and its projected residents?
Sports Arena Blvd. eastbound from West Point Loma Boulevard and eastbound Midway Drive are primary evacuation routes for the Midway District, coastal beach communities south of Pacific Beach, and the Peninsula community. These roadways are known for traffic bottlenecks on any given day, May through September, holidays, weekday commuter hours, and weekends year-round. The City of San Diego originally used the term "failed intersections" to describe how these Midway District intersections would remain so in its initial traffic study of the City's suggested iteration of the Midway Plan Update in 2018.
Notably, NAVWAR's Draft EIR fails to address an area of critical public health and safety concern for the Midway District and its surrounding communities: disaster evacuation routes.
Natural Disasters with potential to impact the Midway District and the OTC Project Site
Earthquakes: Proximity to Active Rose Canyon Fault Lines
The potential for a sizable magnitude earthquake to impact the Midway District is a distinct possibility given the Midway District's proximity to the Rose Canyon Fault Line, with the NAVWAR OTC's 70-acre property nearest these active fault lines.
The recent detection and public disclosure in early 2021 of previously unknown branches of this major fault line through the Midway District and into downtown San Diego required the Rose Canyon Fault Line to be remapped.
Page 39 of Draft EIS Summary states: The report and maps can be viewed on the California Department of Conservation website: https://www.conservation.ca.gov/cgs/preliminary-releases,however, these are not available for viewing on the website; they are available by request only. Two of the four remaps of the RCFL raise cause for concern about erecting up to 350-foot towering high- rise buildings on the OTC property:
Earthquake rezoning/remapping documents:
Document FER 265 - PLATE 3 FAULTS RECOMMENDED FOR ZONING on California's Department of Conservation recommends rezoning the area of the OTC as an Alquist- Priolo Earthquake Fault Zone FER 265 Plate 3.pdf
Document FER 265 - Plate 2 Geomorphic and Air Photo Interpretation Map show distinct lineaments running next to the OTC site with a pressure ridge adjacent to the OTC property. FER 265 Plate 2.pdf
Definition: A lineament is a linear feature in a landscape that is an expression of an underlying geological structure such as a fault, fracture, or joint. Lineaments are generally referred to in the analysis of remote sensing of fractures or structures.
Landfill Foundation Highly Subject to Liquefaction
Related to the OTC project site's proximity to the active Rose Canyon Fault Line, the majority if not all land beneath the NAVWAR OTC property and continuing west thru the Midway district along the evacuation routes was created using and is comprised of artificial landfill that is "highly subject to liquefaction" in a catastrophic earthquake event.
In addition to earthquakes, the Midway community is in a zone with the potential to be impacted by both a local coastal quake tsunami (little to no warning) and a transoceanic tsunami (warning would be given to evacuate).
• What modeling was or will be conducted to determine the impact on critical emergency evacuation routes for the Midway District in response to catastrophic coastal events, specifically an earthquake along the active Rose Canyon fault or a tsunami triggered by either a local coastal quake or a transoceanic quake event?
• On what basis did the Navy determine it feasible based on the scale of Alternatives 2-5 that these projects present a "less than significant impact" erecting 21-story and up to 32-story high-rise buildings on land that has already been determined a "high liquefaction potential" in the event of an earthquake by the California Department of Conservation?
• How will emergency services vehicles from outside the Midway district access the Midway area to assist with emergency rescue and evacuation in response to a catastrophic natural event given the sheer volume of people and vehicles attempting to evacuate the Midway district and outlying beach communities?
• How did the Navy evaluate the project's scale for impact on the safe and quick mass exodus of residents, businesses, and visitors from not only the Midway District but adjacent beach and Peninsula communities whose primary evacuation route is through the Midway District?
"Under Alternatives 1 through 5 there would be less than significant impacts to geological resources due to: Minimal alteration of existing topography and construction occurring on previously developed surfaces."
The present site consists mainly of blacktop surfaces, concrete floors, and above-ground hangar-style structures that do not require special considerations to support above-ground structures built on artificial landfill subject to liquefaction and not serving as permanent residential housing.
• How can 21-story and 32-story office, residential, and hotel buildings and underground garages be erected with "minimal alteration of existing topography and construction"?
• Is there, or has there ever been, any evidence of structural damage to the existing flooring or OTC structures attributed to seismic activity? If so, please describe the extent of that damage or evidence.
The SDPD already suffers ongoing under-staffing issues across the City and in the Western Division.
• How will NAVWAR assist the City in attracting and recruiting new officers to sufficiently meet the increased need for police, fire, and other emergency services to support 10,000 additional residential units and the increased traffic this consolidated high- density site creates?
• Who will underwrite the additional payroll cost to expand the SDPD Western Division to provide public and emergency services to this project?
• Will NAVWAR provide separate police and fire units for the NAVWAR-occupied buildings and any employee or military housing units on the project site?
• How will NAVWAR maintain a secure perimeter and prevent access by the general public to NAVWAR buildings and parking facilities?
• Who will underwrite additional firefighting equipment and human resources costs to fight fires and facilitate emergencies in 21-32 story high-rise residential buildings?
• Who will be responsible for monitoring air quality for Midway residents during 30 years of construction, particularly for residents in the Midway who do not have air conditioning and already experience high levels of dirt and air pollution particles in and around their residences from surrounding freeways and air traffic?
• How will the additional construction pollutants be monitored and mitigated?
The Draft EIS estimates a 30-year development timeline to complete build-out. If that is the case, the residents, businesses, and visitors to the area will be forced to endure significant construction traffic, pollution, and noise pollution for as many as three decades. The project site lies at the convergence of four major transportation arteries (Pacific Highway, Sports Arena Boulevard, Midway Drive, and Barnett Avenue).
• Is it reasonable to expect the Midway community and its neighbors to tolerate the level of disruption contemplated by this project?
• How does the Navy plan to minimize the impacts of three decades of construction at this pivotal location?
• How does the Navy expect the community members to withstand this level of intense construction for so long?
• Does the Navy plan to compensate the residents, business owners, and property owners for the diminished values of their properties?
• Has the Navy given any consideration to the damage it will be doing to the redevelopment plans envisioned by the MPH Community Plan?
• If SANDAG is involved in the project, will the CEQA process be required?
• If a Public Private Partnership (PPP) is involved in the project, will the CEQA process be required?
• Will the City of San Diego governing bodies have approval over any aspects of the project (design, public services requirements, road improvements, etc.) if SANDAG or
PPP is involved?
• What is the anticipated timeline for securing a private developer after the Final EIS is issued? (NOTE: the downtown project technically started in the '80s and took nearly 40 years before final approval. The City and Navy first signed an agreement together in 1992. Manchester signed a 99-year lease in 2006 and took 11 years to start demo after fending off lawsuits based on the idea downtown was not secure enough from a potential terrorist attack. 3mil SF on 12 acres with 4 acres of park/open space or 33%.)
It took approximately 11 years after a developer was identified before construction started on the Navy Broadway Complex
• What are the anticipated timelines before?
o a) Demolition is started?
o b) The Navy is delivered its new building for occupancy?
o c) City streets are restricted due to construction, and for how long?
• What is the dollar value of the new facilities the Navy is seeking to have built on its behalf as part of its PPP modeling?
• What specifically needs to be mitigated on this site regarding the varying infrastructure improvements from Alternatives 1-5?
o On-site vs. off-site?
• How specifically does the Navy define "infrastructure," and what is the difference in mitigation between each of the five proposed Alternatives?
o Who specifically is going to be legally and financially liable for the mitigation process? Does that answer vary across Alternatives?
• What are the top 5 most accepted mitigation best practices, and how does the Navy intend to implement them across this site and the surrounding community?
• Why does the Navy feel justified in expecting the Midway community to discard the Community Plan Update that was carefully and thoughtfully crafted to provide a workable blueprint for redeveloping the community while preserving the historical appeal and quality of life for local residents and visitors alike?
• How many of the 125 public comments received in February 2020 sourced from individuals who either live in Midway, work in Midway, own property in Midway, or operate a business in the Midway District?
• How many of the comments came from SD City or County employees or affiliates?
Formation of a joint powers' agency, pursuant to the Joint Exercise of Powers Act (California Government Code sections 6500-6599.3), Community Facilities District pursuant to the Mello- Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982 (California Government Code sections 53311-53368.3), enhanced infrastructure financing district (California Government Code section 53398.50), or a similar mechanism may occur to fund and oversee the construction of mixed-use development on OTC."
• What, specifically, needs to happen to ensure that this Joint Powers agency, Community Facilities District, or Similar Mechanism DOES occur?
• Which body would be responsible for the formation and management of such an entity?
• What would be the most efficient range/scope/focus of this entity?
The Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group thanks the Navy for the opportunity to provide feedback on this phase of the redevelopment of the NAVWAR site.
It is abundantly clear that the MPHCPG's analysis of the Navy's Draft Environmental Impact Study of the various Alternatives contemplated for the redevelopment of the NAVWAR (OTC) site resulted in many questions, comments, and concerns about the project.
MPHCPG looks forward to how the Navy's responses to this document inform the final Record of Decision and how the final NAVWAR redevelopment effort yields a project that continues to define the Navy as a good neighbor, embraces the adopted community plan, and agrees with the goals of the plan and the community.
We look forward to continuing engagement with the Navy and all relevant authorities regarding this effort.
Chair, Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group
Mayor Todd Gloria, City of San Diego,
Council President Jennifer Campbell, City of San Diego
Michael Hanson, San Diego Planning Department
AUG. 3, 2021 - The vote means the city can restart its plan to develop 48 acres in the Midway District.
JULY 23, 2021 - The preliminary action sets in motion a specific chain of events for eventually leasing 48 acres of land around Pechanga Arena for redevelopment.
JULY 13, 2021 - Halpern was an assistant U.S. attorney for 36 years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego. He is a resident of Mission Hills.
JUNE 17, 2021 - A state agency has determined that if the city were to move forward with the housing, retail and arena deal being contemplated it would be in violation of the Surplus Land Act and subject to fines
MAY 19, 2021 - Nunn is chief of policy and programs for the San Diego Housing Federation. She lives in Clairemont.
MAY 14, 2021 - In environmental analysis, the federal agency identifies a 19.6 million square-foot development plan that would add 14,364 residents and 70,000 daily car trips as its first — but not final — choice for the 70-acre site
MAY 6, 2021 - Moeder is principal of London Moeder Advisors and a lecturer at UC San Diego in urban studies and planning. He lives in Encinitas.
April 21, 2021 - SANDAG has begun the environmental review process for a central mobility hub, marking a pivotal step in the agency’s quest to develop a transit center with an airport connection at the Navy’s Old Town Campus.
April 19, 2021 - The Sports Arena site provides an incredible opportunity for showcasing what can and should be done on public properties in California to provide a true range of housing types for people of all income levels.
April 13, 2021 - The city’s plan to redevelop the Sports Arena has been tripped up by a change to state law. Yet MTS, whose board includes several San Diego City Council members, took proactive steps to protect itself from the same law.
April 7, 2021 - New state guidelines imply that San Diego should have offered the Midway District site to affordable housing builders before soliciting interest from other developers
March 25, 2021 - An overlooked change to state law could derail the city of San Diego’s attempt to redevelop the area around the Sports Arena into an urban entertainment district.
March 26, 2021 - Negotiations between the city and the developer are on hiatus while San Diego awaits a determination that could fundamentally alter how it disposes of all property
October 5, 2020 - The Midway district could be a wonderful place to live and play, but it won’t fulfill its potential unless voters approve Measure E.