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Measure aiming to lift Midway District height limit gets OK for November ballot

San Diego voters could repeal the 30-foot building height limit in the Midway District in November.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Another measure would amend the city charter to make it legal for 42 city recreation centers to host child care services.

A measure that would lift the 30-foot coastal building height limit in the Midway District will be on the city’s November ballot.

The measure would require approval by a simple majority of voters to be successful. It would eliminate the height limit in a 1,324-acre area of the Midway District that includes the sports arena and some nearby city-owned land where officials envision high-rise housing and a new entertainment district.

The City Council voted 8-0 on July 25 to place the proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Committee action tees up the do-over measure — which is needed to allow for redevelopment of San Diego’s sports arena site — to be placed on the November ballot.

In 2020, voters approved Measure E, a nearly identical ballot proposal, but a judge later invalidated it because city officials hadn’t studied the potential environmental effects of taller buildings before putting the measure in front of voters.

Councilman Chris Cate, who is spearheading the new effort, said support from 57 percent of voters two years ago should be a source of confidence to those who want to see the height limit lifted.

Council President Sean Elo-Rivera said taller buildings in the Midway District would help solve the city’s housing shortage. Supporters say the area is ideal for dense housing, with its proximity to multiple freeways and the Old Town Transit Center.

A group called Save Our Access says the ballot measure would lift the height limit in too wide an area and contend it should be targeted more narrowly.

Child care

Another measure the council voted 8-0 to place on the ballot would amend the city charter to make it legal for 42 city recreation centers to host child care services.

Supporters say the fit could be ideal because rec centers are mostly empty during the morning and early afternoon, when child care centers typically operate.

The ballot measure comes as San Diego officials have been scrambling in recent years to address a shortage of local child care options for city workers and many residents, some of whom can’t work due to lack of child care.

A comprehensive survey last winter of 1,100 city facilities determined that only 72 are viable candidates for child care services and that 42 of those are recreation centers in city parks where child care is not a legal activity.

Ocean Beach’s Robb Field athletic area, the Ocean Beach Recreation Center and the Point Loma/Hervey Library were among the 72 eligible properties being looked at.

Three city of San Diego properties in the Point Loma-Ocean Beach area have been included on a list of sites under consideration for child-care facilities as part of an initiative to regain child-care access lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city charter says any land dedicated for “park, recreation or cemetery purposes shall not be used for any but park, recreation or cemetery purposes” unless city voters approve such an exception with at least two-thirds support.

But the approval threshold for the November ballot measure, which would amend the charter to add child care to the list of allowed uses, is a simple majority, not two-thirds.


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