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

Mayor Todd Gloria said the city will pursue an immediate two-track strategy of court appeals and environmental study to “fulfill the will of the people” and revitalize the dilapidated Midway District with its strip clubs, warehouses and aging Sports Arena.

Gloria outlined the strategy late Friday after Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal ruled Dec. 14 that the city should have performed an environmental assessment before putting Measure E on the ballot in 2020.

The measure, which removed the 30-foot height limits that essentially prevent buildings over two or three stories, passed with 57% of the vote. However, opponents who warned of high-rise buildings and wanted more parkland filed suit.

“My obligation is to fulfill the will of the people, and San Diegans voted by a sizable margin to eliminate the 30-foot coastal height limit in the Midway planning area,” said Gloria.

“The ability to build over 30 feet is critical to redeveloping the city’s Sports Arena property, which will add thousands of new homes to help address our housing crisis — and which is key to revitalizing a neighborhood that’s waited decades for transformation,” he added.

Gloria said court appeals will take over a year, during which time the city will prepare an environmental impact report in case the issue has to go to the ballot again.

“While I’m optimistic about the City’s chances of winning on appeal, given all that’s at stake and the length of the appeals process, it’s worth it to make absolutely certain this Midway revitalization stays on track,” he said.

Bacal said the city should have considered the impact on views from other neighborhoods before putting the measure to end height limits on the ballot.

Five developers have submitted plans for redeveloping a 48-acre city-owned property within the district that includes the Sports Arena.

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Chris Jennewein

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