Navy headquarters redevelopment project rejected

OCEANSIDE (CNS) – The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously
Wednesday to scuttle plans to redevelop the Navy's headquarters in downtown San
Diego, finding that both the project and surrounding area have changed
significantly since prior approval was granted 20 years ago.

The Navy and a private developer want to tear down the white, four-block-
long building that sits between North Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway and
replace it with a mixed-use complex featuring military offices, commercial
space and a hotel.

The commission's staff recommended that the project be declared
inconsistent with California Coastal Development Program provisions that
protect waterfront views.

Among the changes to the downtown waterfront over the years have been
the opening of the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum and construction of high-
rise condominium complexes and hotels that favor coastal locations — all
affecting views of the bay and coastal access, according to staff.

“I believe it is unquestionable there have been significant changes in
this project area and this project,” Commissioner Esther Sanchez said.

She pointed out “tremendous building” along the waterfront since 1991
that makes the Navy's environmental impact report “outdated.”

Sanchez and a couple of other commissioners also pointed out that the
threat of terrorism against a mixed-use project involving the military was
heightened since the 1991 approval and not addressed in the plans.

Among other things, the staff wants wider setbacks from North Harbor
Drive to the structure's walls, public access throughout the project, the use
of green building standards, new traffic and parking studies, and a plan to
manage employee transportation needs.

The Navy and developer Doug Manchester can redesign the project to meet
commission demands, make an appeal or pursue ongoing litigation.

Without approval, the Navy headquarters will remain as is, “fenced-
off” and “blighted,” and will still limit the public's coastal access, said
Paul Webster of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The ruling came on the first of three days of commission meetings at
Oceanside City Hall.

Other San Diego issues will be dealt with Friday, including a land-use
policy on community gardens recently adopted by the San Diego City Council.
Zoning decisions in coastal areas require Coastal Commission approval.

Categories: KUSI