National City Mayor Ron Morrison publicly expressed his frustration with San Diego port officials at a recent City Council meeting regarding a decision to relocate Dole company truck paths.
While a 24.5-year extension and expansion lease at the port’s 10th Avenue marine terminal with Dole kept hundreds of people employed on the waterfront, Morrison says it was done without city discussion.
“When they’re doing something in our jurisdiction … this should have been a very detailed discussion of staff with staff,” Morrison said. “We got word of this a little less than two weeks ago.”
Morrison said that maps were drawn for relocation in the spring to move Dole’s truck staging area from Barrio Logan to the 24th Street marine terminal in National City.
City Port Commissioner Dukie Valderrama, who presented an update on port matters Tuesday night, said this plan was the best alternative.
“It made a lot of business and environmental sense to relocate the Dole trucks route for minimal impact to residents,” Valderrama said.
Morrison argues that because the terminal is a truck transfer station, it could have gone anywhere.
While Morrison agrees that toxins released into the air from trucks were affecting the health of the Barrio Logan community, he said the same health risks will be faced by the city’s west side community.
“The trucks are going immediately next to the west side — the area we’ve been so concerned about,” he said. “The fumes go right into the Kimball school and neighborhood.”
For the last several decades National City has seen increases in health risks to its residents, specifically asthma in young children, due to industrial businesses.
Morrison said it’s been the trend of the port and other agencies to essentially treat National City as a dumping ground.
“We don’t need to be the deposit for everybody else’s negatives,” he said.
Another issue is the possible relocation of Tidelands Avenue Road to provide private access to trucks.
Morrison said if that happened, a replacement road would need to be created for public access, otherwise the city wouldn’t be able to use the area for development.
Valderrama told council members that Dole officials said they would be willing to relinquish the property as long as alternative land is located for Dole.
In addition, Councilwoman Rosalie Zarate was concerned about the relocation’s effects on the bayshore bikeway path, a multi-year project to create a connective bike trail along the bay.
City engineer Stephen Manganiello said the original plan for the bayshore bikeway path included that it come down Harbor Drive and continue to the tidelands, connecting with the Pier 32 marina.
“If it doesn’t go on Tidelands Avenue as part of the vision plan redevelopment, it will get aligned further west,” Manganielllo said.
Valderrama said Port CEO Wayne Darbeau would provide a monthly detailed report to City Manager Leslie Deese so “no one will be blind-sided.”
Councilwoman Alejandra Sotelo-Solis said, regardless, the city must move forward.
“We cannot throw our hands up and say this is another abuse — another neglect of National City,” she said. “We need to take it upon ourselves to work with the port.”