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An aerial view of the Midway District along Sports Arena Boulevard. Courtesy City of San Diego
Election 2020

Measure E: A Bipartisan Plan to Revitalize a Community

This is an independent opinion. Have one of your own? Write it! Email it to [email protected]

Think fast. Can you name an idea that is supported by both Democrats and Republicans in 2020? In an era of extreme partisanship, finding common ground is increasingly hard. But there is one proposal on the November ballot that has gained support from across the political spectrum. 

Measure E has earned rare bipartisan endorsements from both local political parties, as well as the backing of environmental advocates, business groups, labor organizations, taxpayer watchdogs and top city leaders – including Democratic, Republican and Independent members of the San Diego City Council. That’s because Measure E will return pride to San Diego by paving the way for a world-class sports arena and transforming the Midway District into a modern, attractive and enjoyable community at no cost to taxpayers.

As the leaders of the community planning group that represents the sports arena and surrounding neighborhood, we are proud that Measure E was created by the community, for the community. We live in Midway. We work in Midway. We have roots going back generations. We see every day how our neighborhood has been held back while other communities have prospered. Measure E levels the playing field while bringing major benefits to all of San Diego.

We have so many things to be proud of as San Diegans, but unfortunately the sports arena area is not one of them. The sports arena is outdated and underused, and the neighborhood around it has been declining for decades even as the rest of San Diego improved. 

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When locals and tourists visit popular destinations like the sports arena, Liberty Station or Cabrillo National Monument, they must drive through the Midway District — a run-down labyrinth of seedy strip clubs, garish billboards, empty warehouses and shuttered businesses. If downtown is San Diego’s front porch, the Midway District is our broken screen door. It reflects poorly on residents, businesses and our entire city. 

Measure E will allow San Diego to realize this area’s promise with a 21st-century sports venue, a thriving entertainment district, acres of public parks, residential units and quality jobs. It does so by correcting a 48-year-old mistake in the municipal code that has fueled the neighborhood’s ongoing deterioration. 

In 1972, San Diego wisely decided to guard against coastal over-development by limiting new construction near the beach to 30 feet in height. But the city drew a bright red line on Interstate 5 and called everything west of it a coastal area – lumping Midway in with the likes of La Jolla and Mission Bay. Nearly 50 years later, it is plain to see the building cap has been great for beach communities but has completely failed the Midway District.

Midway is not a coastal community, and it never made sense for the Coastal Height Limit to be applied here. We have no public coastline, beaches, or ocean views. Midway is completely landlocked, encircled by Interstate 5 to the east, Interstate 8 to the north, and the airport and Marine Corps Recruit Depot to the south. If you come here planning to ride the waves or sit on the sand, you will be sorely disappointed. 

ALSO READ: Preserve Access to Coastal Communities by Voting No on Measure E

Measure E fully protects the Coastal Height Limit while rectifying this oversight. The ballot measure only affects the Midway District, while leaving untouched the 30-foot safeguard in all city of San Diego beach communities – La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Mission Bay, Ocean Beach and Point Loma. A developer cannot build a high-rise on the coast now, and they still won’t be able to under Measure E.

This simple fix will stimulate creation of a vibrant, pedestrian and transit-oriented community with entertainment, office, retail, residential, recreational, public and park use. 

Crucially, Measure E is the only way for San Diego to get a new, world-class sports arena. The current 77-foot-tall arena is only allowed because it was built six years before the height restriction took effect. Now that the rules prohibit building an inch over 30 feet, it is impossible to construct a new arena. Without Measure E, San Diego is stuck with the existing sports and entertainment complex. 

At a time when jobs and funding for public services have been gravely impacted by the pandemic, Measure E will produce hundreds of millions of dollars in annual economic activity and create thousands of jobs for San Diego — something we desperately need during the worst recession in generations. It will also spur tens of millions of dollars in yearly tax revenue to help local schools, roads and neighborhood services.

In addition to being backed by both the Democratic and Republican parties of San Diego County, Measure E is endorsed by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, Climate Action Campaign, the community planning group and more. 

We are proud that this effort did not originate with big developers or corporate interests. We have been fighting for this change for years because we know this is one of San Diego’s last untapped areas for economic growth. It is time to remove the artificial barriers limiting our potential. Join us to create a modern sports arena, revitalize our community, restore pride to this area and generate thousands of jobs for San Diego. Vote “yes” on E.

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About the Author

Dike Anyiwo

Dike Anyiwo is a Midway resident and vice chair of the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group.

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About the Author

Cathy Kenton

Cathy Kenton is a Midway property owner and chair of the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group.

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