May 12, 2020 

City Administration Building

202 C Street, 10th Floor

San Diego, CA 92101


RE: Proposed ballot measure to remove height limit in Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan area


Dear Council President Gomez and members of the Rules Committee:

BikeSD would like to express our strong support for the proposed ballot measure that would ask voters to remove the 30-foot height limit in the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan area.  We highly recommend the Rules Committee move to advance the measure to the full City Council for placement on the November 2020 ballot. 

We thank Councilmembers Campbell and Cate for their leadership to bring this initiative forward and agree that there are many exciting opportunities for revitalizing the Midway District which is supported by the recently updated Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan to reimagine Midway as a transit- and pedestrian-oriented destination.  

With proper land use, and allowing buildings to exceed 30’ heights, there can be an increase of affordable housing while providing a more sustainable development where people can walk, bike, and take transit to reduce average daily carbon footprint. By allowing density to grow upward, we allow for more open outdoor space, an extremely important element for improving the quality of life for residents in San Diego.  Three large developments that can benefit from this initiative to support better mobility, affordable housing, and a more thriving community for the area are; 1. The redevelopment of the Sports Arena site  2. The old Post Office site, and 3. The promising new Grand Central Station at the NAVWAR property.  As Councilmembers Cate and Campbell pointed out, these opportunities would be encumbered by the existing 30-foot height limit.  

We would like to make two recommendations as the ballot measure is considered to be moved forward:

  1. To create an EcoDistrict for the entire area of Midway to ensure holistic projects are sustainable and resilient into the future.
  2. To include the area of North Pacific Beach, identified in the Balboa Specific Plan, to have the height limit removed there as well.   There are similar opportunities near the Balboa Transit Station and hope these will be recognized for this area to be included in the ballot measure.  

Studies show residents of affordable housing near transit have lower carbon footprints than other residents. Almost the entirety of the Midway area and North Pacific Beach lies within a Transit Priority Area, but the 30-foot height limit substantially diminishes the opportunity for climate-friendly, infill, affordable apartments. Eliminating the height limit, then, aligns with the goals of our legally-binding Climate Action Plan, further enabling San Diego to be a city for all, regardless of background or income.

The COVID-19 health emergency and resulting economic impact also add urgency to this issue. Development, either commercial or residential, is a major economic stimulus and residential development in particular leads to the ultimate community benefit – more affordable homes and better mobility. While some redevelopment plans may be delayed due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus, eliminating the height limit in the Midway area ensures San Diego creates the conditions for future job creation and economic activity that will be essential to our recovery.

The Midway District currently is a blighted car centric area of San Diego that has the potential to grow with dignity, to grow upwards to provide adequate space for healthy amenities that support a good Quality of Life, and to ensure proper land use is created to ensure safe and efficient mobility and healthy places to live.  We are excited to support this proposed ballot measure for the elimination of the 30-foot height limit.