An aerial view of the Midway District along Sports Arena Boulevard. Courtesy City of San Deiego

A local initiative headed for the Nov. 3 ballot would lift a 30-foot-height limit to allow redevelopment of San Diego’s blighted Midway district with new housing and commercial projects.

“Removing the height limits only in the Midway area, and leaving in place the existing underlying height limits, will be the catalyst to bring to life a new vision of Midway by attracting needed investments,” said Councilmember Jen Campbell, who represents the area. “The Midway community has been asking for this change for several years. They need to build up — not out — to achieve the desired green space.”

The measure, which is supported by the Midway community planning group, was placed on the ballot after a 7-2 vote of the City Council on Tuesday. Councilmembers Barbara Bry and Georgette Gomez voted against the measure.

Midway, which is roughly bordered by Interstate 8 to the north, Interstate 5 to the east, San Diego International Airport to the south, and Midway Drive to the west, is known for strip clubs, dilapidated commercial properties and the aging Sports Arena.

The ballot measure would remove a development constraint approved by voters almost 50 years ago to cover beach communities west of Interstate 5. The change is considered key to the city’s effort to redevelop the Sports Arena property.

“The height limit was meant for coastal communities, but it was arbitrarily applied to the Midway district which has no beaches and is landlocked by freeways,” said Cathy Kenton, a local business owner and co-chair of a campaign to support the ballot measure. “The community wanted this on the ballot, and we look forward to a community-led campaign to revitalize our neighborhood.”

The ballot measure received unanimous support from the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group, which had updated the area’s community plan in 2018. The measure would help fulfill that plan, which calls for “a vibrant, balanced, and pedestrian-oriented community that provides residential, commercial, office, industrial, institutional, military, and civic uses.”

“This is a prime location for housing, especially affordable housing,” said Dike Anyiwo, a six-year resident of the area who is co-chairing the ballot campaign. “This measure has the potential to grow a full-fledged community that people will be proud to call home.”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.