Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, said Thursday a bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom will help pave the way for redeveloping the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command site in the Old Town neighborhood.
Assembly Bill 2731, co-authored by Gloria and Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, will allow the San Diego Association of Governments to streamline the environmental review process in order to build a transit hub and accompanying development on the systems command site — better known as NAVWAR.
“This bill represents a unique opportunity to protect the existing 5,000 Navy jobs from relocation, create a 21st century transportation system in San Diego, and provide desperately needed economic stimulus to our local economy in the wake of COVID-19,” Gloria said. “This project has the potential to generate at least 16,000 jobs and provide housing for up to 27,000 residents — both of which we know are desperately needed.”
The U.S. Navy signaled its intent to redevelop the NAVWAR campus in late 2018, citing the facility’s lack of adaptability and compatibility with modern mission requirements. The facilities are essentially old aircraft hangars from the 1950s and 1960s repurposed to house cybersecurity professionals.
In September 2019, SANDAG and the Navy signed an initial agreement to explore options for redevelopment of the campus, followed by a formalized revitalization agreement in January.
“From construction of redeveloped NAVWAR facilities to building and operating a mobility hub to better connect San Diegans and visitors with a direct transit connection to the San Diego International Airport, these are critical projects for our communities and will have a positive fiscal impact on our region for years to come,” Atkins said.
AB 2731 allows SANDAG to streamline certain processes required under the California Environmental Quality Act to construct a transit terminal, as well as a direct connection to the San Diego International Airport, by using some of the Navy’s existing environmental documents, which will allow most legal actions on the NAVWAR development to be expedited and resolved within 270 days.
In exchange, the bill requires a transit hub to meet high environmental benchmarks such as reducing vehicle miles traveled by 25% and that the project be greenhouse gas-neutral.
“AB 2731 provides an ambitious framework of environmental standards and regulatory streamlining that will help make the Central Mobility Hub and the NAVWAR redevelopment a reality,” said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of SANDAG. “This project represents one of the most important partnerships with the U.S. Navy and one of the biggest investments ever in San Diego’s regional economy.”
NAVWAR provides the information infrastructure to connect Navy and national security operations.
The Navy is expected to complete its environmental review process by early 2021. Concurrently, SANDAG will continue to conduct preliminary project development efforts.
–City News Service