National City, Port get closer to marina revamp

After two community workshops and public input, the Port of San Diego is ready to move forward with the potential redevelopment of the National City Marina District.

The 60-acre district that includes Pepper Park and Pier 32 has been at the center of redevelopment discussions for more than a decade.

National City Mayor Ron Morrison said he is glad the Port and the city can finally come to an agreement on the use of the Marina District that will benefit both parties.

“We came up with something that balanced the ability (for the Port) to expand their operations,” he said. “At the same time allow the city to have some certainty on some areas for basically more local use.”

This will allow them to develop an area next to the marina and be able to enlarge the park so we have more public facilities and also have some commercial development that will allow both public access but also revenue for the city.”

Some redevelopment changes that will be proposed to Port commissioners at their April 14 meeting include adding at least two acres of park space to the Marina District or up to three acres of park space as long as maritime uses are not affected.

Port staff also recommends the reconfiguration of the commercial recreation land use designations north of Pier 32 Marina, adjust adjacent land use designations, and account for buffers from sensitive habitat in the wildlife refuge.

Currently the three main uses in the Marina District are for park, commercial and maritime uses.

Anna Buzaitis, a senior planner for the Port, said most of the staff’s recommendations for a preferred land-use alternative plan derived from public feedback.

Buzaitis said staff presented three preliminary land use alternatives for the Marina District during the two community workshops.

She wrote in a memo to the commissioners that comments received from the public at workshops brought about the preparation of a fourth alternative plan, which is what staff is recommending.

She said the preferred land use alternative that will be proposed to Port commissioners includes taking a specific parcel and designating it a park or commercial use. Buzaitis said community members showed an interest in having more park space within the Marina District. She also said the public expressed a general concern with lack of parking.

Buzaitis said there were initial discussions about moving National City’s historic Granger Hall to the waterfront but the community did not support that idea.

If Port commissioners approve the plans, the next step is to move forward with an environmental review on the land use changes. An environmental review can take up to 18 months.

If all goes well with the review, then the Port will have to amend its master plan, which is similar to a city’s master plan. Once that’s amended then development projects can be proposed for the actual area.

“No specific developments are proposed at this time,” Buzaitis said.

Morrison said the redevelopment is finally happening after years of disagreements with the Port.

“In the past, National City was used as a dumping ground for the other cities,” he said. “My philosophy is we are not going to deal with that anymore.”