Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Army of Homes Marching on the Waterfront

Residential interests battle an industrial legacy for the city’s economic future


Published:

In late September, the San Diego Chargers decided to try to sabotage a little deal that was being put together by hotel owners.

The hoteliers want to raise hotel room taxes, on their own, and direct the money to a major expansion of the Convention Center. 

Don’t build a bigger Convention Center, the team said, build a stadium with a retractable roof. Score two civic dreams with one football stadium. The Chargers’ ambassador, Mark Fabiani, argued the hoteliers’ tax scheme likely violated state law. It was a shocking broadside.

Fabiani told me it came because the team regretted acquiescing, in the past, on stadium ideas when big shots supported competing projects for the same plots of land.

In particular, the Chargers had backed off a push to redevelop the site of the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal. Fabiani said this was a mistake. “The Tenth Avenue Terminal seems increasingly out of place in an increasingly residential downtown.”

Yes it does. The pristine property imports just enough things and employs just enough longshoremen to make it a sacred cow. 

Yet, homes are threatening its future, just like many other spots along the waterfront. At major stops along the bay, people who manufacture and move things are trying to survive political fights with those who want to build homes. 

Right next to Tenth Avenue, in Barrio Logan, the fight is on. The neighborhood is getting spruced up. New developments like the Mercado Del Barrio project are arising. 

But businesses in the port that build ships and import things still depend on Barrio Logan’s welding, plating, and auto shops peppered among the neighborhood’s homes.

It’s quite stunning, actually: machine shops right next to little houses. The current community plan allows this interplay of land uses. But the city is updating that plan and strict separation of industrial and residential zones is coming. 

Residents want a better quality of life, access to the waterfront, and things that smell better than engine exhaust. 

At the same time, industry and the port support good jobs. Do we want to squeeze more of them out? This is a city decision. When you talk about what a city can do to create jobs, the main thing it can do is deftly decide how to use land. 

Congressman Bob Filner, for example, is the only major Democrat running for mayor. He has basically one plan for the local economy: make the port huge and competitive. That’d be a big deal to Barrio Logan residents and homebuilders.

Look to the north. At the site of the famous Fat City on Pacific Highway, a former nightclub and restaurant, the late Tom Fat’s family wants to make a deal with developers to build apartments. That idea conforms to the community plan, which unlike Barrio Logan’s, has recently been updated to come in line with what the neighborhood and city want today.

Unfortunately, across the street from Fat City sits Solar Turbines, a manufacturer of what are basically jet engines that can power a major facility or pump water.

Solar Turbines is even hiring. It pays healthy salaries for its machinists and its engineers. Its executives fear that the environmental permits they need to try new techniques won’t be easy to get if people move in across the street. 

Put anything else there you want, just don’t put homes, they say. City Councilman Kevin Faulconer came to the company’s defense in September saying the new development could force Solar Turbines to relocate.

The apartment builders say they’re all being paranoid. 

Maybe. But the fact is residential doesn’t mix with industrial. 

If you view industry along the waterfront as vital to the city of San Diego’s economic future, beware.  

The city seems to be siding with those who want to build homes over those who want to build things.

Did you know?

Right now, 4,000 residents call Barrio Logan home. That population is set to triple by 2030. 

Solar Turbines employs 3,800 people in San Diego. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

San Diego New Year’s Eve Guide

Ring in 2015 at these parties, concerts, dining, and family-friendly events

Behind the Scenes Video: Making the December issue

This month we take you inside the San Diego Magazine offices where our editors debate cover options

On Raising the Next Generation of Activists

Invisible Children’s Danica Russell pens a kids’ book on activism
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Baja Moment
    In eight short years, Baja’s gone from a virtual dead zone to one of the globe’s top food and drink destinations. Now what?
  2. 10 Best New Restaurants in San Diego
    Our food critic picks the top 10 new restaurants of 2014. Time to add these hotspots to your must-try list.
  3. San Diego Thanksgiving Guide 2014
    Where to dine out, order catering, buy pies, and turkey-trot your way through the holiday
  4. Wake Up And Smell the Coffee
    As American coffee culture moves past the nonfat vanilla lattes toward a more elevated brew, San Diego is right on trend
  5. FIRST LOOK: Stella Public House & Halcyon
    Stella Public House and Halcyon open in East Village near Downtown San Diego. Part coffeehouse, part Neapolitan pizza joint, park cocktails and craft beer, part tableside s'mores.
  6. Top Docs 2014: The Doctors
    Our annual list celebrating the best of the best in the healthcare field
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags