Port spokesperson Brianne Page said recent public testimony on the master plan update taken at Board of Port Commissioners’ meetings was reflected in direction by commissioners to staff. Those directions call for: Moving proposed Shelter Island hotel rooms to Harbor Island; maintaining the 30-foot building height limit; keeping La Playa piers open to the public with docks remaining private; no reconfiguration of Scott Street; keeping the La Playa trail natural, and clarifying master plan update language.
The San Diego Unified Port District was created in 1962 to manage 34 miles of San Diego Bay waterfront along Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego including Shelter Island. The lands are to be used to benefit the statewide public in enhancing commerce, navigation, fisheries, and recreation.
There has been some misinformation about the port’s plans, said Page citing a rumored restroom as one example.
“The port never intended to build a restroom on the La Playa trail or at the trailhead,” she said. “The La Playa Trail shall remain unpaved, and will not be extended more than six feet in width to maintain the atmosphere and character of a natural trail.”
The Port Master Plan update originally had plans for 1,600 new hotel rooms on Shelter Island, 240,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and possible demolishment, or modification, of the piers.
“The Coastal Commission wanted those piers either fully opened to the public, or demolished,” said Page. “The next step will be to open up negotiations on that between the port and the commission.”
Peninsula Community Planning Board chair Robert Goldyn noted the master plan update is evolving.
“We need to remember that the Port Master Plan Update is a framework for proposed development and what is possible to be developed,” Goldyn said. “Any development that is proposed will need to comply with current development regulations which is likely to include the California Environmental Quality Act, and open public comment and review. … even though something is stated in the master plan, it may never be realized. Our best efforts are to plan for what is best for the Peninsula today, and take a detailed look when development realizes to respond to specific criteria at that point in time.”
Page said public feedback will now be digested by port staff before update revisions are made.
“We’re anticipating having a new draft for public review and input out in March 2020,” she said, adding an environmental review for the master plan update should be released next summer and could be completed by year’s end.
“In 2021, we’ll be going for the Coastal Commission certification process, with the hopes of having the master plan updated by the end of 2021,” Page said.
The existing port master plan is outdated.
“Our current master plan was certified in 1981,” Page said. “Since then there have been many amendments. There has never been a comprehensive update. So we’re updating it to reflect changing needs and priorities. We want to make sure that our plan is forward-looking and forward-thinking.”