The plan envisions adding up to 1,600 more hotel rooms on Shelter Island, re-configuring Shelter Island Drive to expand park space, adding bike lanes, adding walking paths through marinas, and removing private residential piers and docks unless they are made publicly accessible, among other changes.
“We’re here tonight to basically listen,” said Port Commissioner Ann Moore, who noted that the port had held 19 previous public meetings.
A similar meeting is planned for Coronado on Thursday. Port staff said a detailed report summarizing all comments would be presented to the full Port Commission on Sept. 16.
Residents in the crowded hall voiced concerns about opening the private piers and docks, possible changes to the La Playa Trail, potential traffic congestion, increased building height, and more hotel rooms.
“I object to exceeding the height limit and I object to removal of the piers,” said one speaker, drawing loud applause.
“Why would we want to put more in this low-lying part of the community when everybody is happy with what we have now,” said another speaker.
“There are so many problems in San Diego that need to be fixed, but this is not one,” explained a third.
A fourth said the plan would turn Point Loma into “Kearny Mesa by the sea” and ruin the lives of many long-term residents. “Think outside the box before you sell us down the road,” he said.
By the end of the two-hour meeting, over a hundred residents had spoken, as a moderator went row-by-row with a microphone.
The private piers and docks were the most frequent concern. The draft plan envisions fully opening them to the public from sunrise to sunset.
Port Commissioner Marshall Merrfield said the California Coastal Commission, which has final approval on the plan, is insisting on full public access and the port can’t really fight that.
“At this point, they’re insisting,” he said. “If we get a disapproval from them, the whole thing is off.”
Moore suggested a compromise may be possible after residents said the piers could be open as long as the attached floating docks remain private. That’s already the case, but not widely known as many piers have gates
As the discussion grew heated, Merrifield said he and the other two commissioners were present to listen and learn.
“The three of us can’t make a decision today. We can’t actually give an opinion,” he said. In any case, he said, it will be over a year before the plan mores toward final approval.
“This is a draft. It is not the final product,” said Moore at the end. “We’re hoping the final is a lot more what you’ll like.”
In April the port began a 90-day public review period for the new plan, which outlines future development and management of water and land within the port’s jurisdiction on San Diego Bay.
During a review period, which concluded on July 31, the port received nearly 3,000 written comments, many from the community adjacent to Shelter Island.
Wednesday’s public discussion was scheduled after review of those comments.
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: