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Proposed ballot measure to remove 30-foot height limit in Midway community progresses

A map shows the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan area.
(Courtesy)

A proposal to place a measure on the November ballot to remove the 30-foot building height limit in the Midway-Pacific Highway community has passed the first couple of steps of the approval process and is on its way to the San Diego City Council.

The proposal, which comes from the offices of council members Jennifer Campbell and Chris Cate, passed the first step in May when the council Rules Committee voted to direct the city attorney’s office to prepare the ballot measure’s language and legal analysis.

The committee voted at its June 10 meeting to forward the proposal to the full City Council.

“We expect the item to be docketed at council in late July/early August,” according to Josh Coyne, a representative of Campbell’s District 2 office.

If approved by the council, the citywide ballot measure would allow the community to vote on getting rid of the 30-foot height limit in the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan area, but not throughout San Diego, according to a web page on the proposal at bit.ly/midwayfaq. A simple majority vote is required for it to pass.

Critics of the proposed measure say it could be the first step toward San Diego lifting the height limit in the rest of the coastal zone — La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach and Point Loma.

The idea behind the proposal is that the Midway District community does not have the same concerns with ocean views as other area communities do. The Midway area is bounded by Interstate 5 to the east, San Diego International Airport to the south, Point Loma to the west and the San Diego River to the north.

“The recent community plan is the guiding planning document for the community,” Coyne said. “That was updated in 2018 and is a real treasure. It is filled with opportunities for green space, parks, new transit opportunities, housing, mixed-use opportunities, even the possibility for a new sports arena complex. The removal of the height limit helps us make Midway better and achieve all of this.”

The proposal would amend the coastal height limit overlay zone section of the San Diego municipal code to exclude the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan, eliminating the current height limit and leaving in place municipal code height requirements that vary per parcel.

The web page states there currently is no new “height limit” proposed beyond the existing zoned base heights.

“We have gained the support of the San Diego YIMBY Democrats, Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Building Industry Association of San Diego, Downtown Partnership Political Action Committee and unanimous support from the Midway-Pacific Highway Planning Group,” Coyne said.

Addressing the issue of traffic in the Midway District, Coyne said there are few residents there and that the majority of traffic is from people outside the area coming to shop or attend a concert.

“If more people lived closer, or could afford to live closer, to where they want to shop or play, there would be less car traffic. If we increase revenue opportunities for the area, this means, among many things, an increase in infrastructure investments in alternative forms of transportation” such as buses, trolleys and bikes, he said.

The San Diego Union-Tribune contributed to this report.


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