U-T: A Flawed Champion of the Maritime Industry - Voice of San Diego

Barrio Logan

U-T: A Flawed Champion of the Maritime Industry

The condemnation of a vague existential threat to the shipbuilding industry is strange, considering just last year the paper urged the city to move the 10th Avenue Terminal south in favor of a stadium.

Today U-T San Diego let Nathan Fletcher have it for his take on the controversial Barrio Logan community plan that industrialists are vowing to overturn at the ballot box.

The newspaper is right. Fletcher, as a mayoral candidate, is clearly trying to have this one both ways. You can’t just say that the city’s leaders should be able to work out their differences and that you would have found a compromise.

Let’s see that compromise and let’s see what the warring sides think of it.

Scott Lewis on Politics LogoThe controversy now boils down to a nine-block area just north of Harbor Drive. That land is currently home to companies that support shipbuilders (not shipbuilders themselves). The new plan does not require them to move. Only if and when they vacate the land for two years would the new plan kick in.

If they don’t move, nothing happens. Ever. In fact, they can expand up to 20 percent.

If they vacated the land, and left it be, the land use would switch to commercial. And shipbuilding support companies wanting to move in there would have to apply for conditional-use permits. No doubt, these would likely be hard to get as Barrio Logan’s population grows.

Here’s how our Andrew Keatts put it:

That’s the disagreement: Can shipyard-supporting companies open without a conditional-use permit in a nine-block area north of Harbor Drive?

That’s it. Everything else has been settled.

This is what the U-T apparently is so upset about. But that was confusing to me. This newspaper is now a champion of maritime uses at the port? Really?

I’m old enough to remember (2012) when the paper declared that its No. 1 priority was to abolish the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal and replace it with a sports resort that included a new football stadium.

The 10th Avenue Marine Terminal is one of two main terminals at the port. There’s a legitimate debate about whether it is the best use of such incredibly valuable land. But if you want the port and the area around Barrio Logan to serve the maritime industry, 10th Avenue is key.

Blowing up 10th Avenue is certainly a lot more hostile to the port’s maritime business than some community plan for a nearby neighborhood.

In 2012, the U-T hammered the idea that the best use of this land was maritime use. No, it was neither what was best for the economy nor for our city’s beauty.

And yet now, a year later, a plan for a piece of land in Barrio Logan, not even on the port, that likely won’t have any effect for decades, if at all, is an intolerable existential threat to jobs in a vital local maritime industry?

U-T, is that you? Really? You get bought again?

Here’s how U-T editors put their concerns about the Barrio Logan plan:

The affected maritime suppliers are critical to shipbuilders’ ability to service and repair Navy ships. New regulations imposed by the zones will force suppliers closest to the shipyards to wade through costly and burdensome red tape. And during these times of sequestration and federal budget cuts, it sends a disturbing message to the Navy about its future relationship with San Diego.

Really? Is it that disturbing? How disturbing of a message would even just seriously discussing bulldozing 10th Avenue Marine Terminal be if we sent that to the Navy?

The terminal is a Strategic Commercial Seaport for the Navy, which requires that warfighting ships have the opportunity to occupy a berth at the facility from time to time.

The U-T, last year, wrote that even something as disruptive as putting a stadium right here …

 

Photo by Scott Lewis
Photo by Scott Lewis

… would not have to get in the way of the importing going on there.

And if it did disturb maritime businesses, well, just move them, the paper wrote. Here’s the editorial last year painting the picture of a waterfront not so beholden to this ugly, underperforming maritime industry:

The facility’s commercial operations need to be preserved in the short and medium term. Ultimately, however, in the long term, we find it unlikely that anyone would argue the Marine Terminal is the best possible use of a big chunk of San Diego’s spectacular downtown waterfront. That’s why we think that eventually, it needs to move south, with the jobs and cargo transfers shifted either to an expanded port at National City or elsewhere.

So to review: According to the U-T in 2012, we should blow apart maritime operations at the port by bulldozing one of its two main terminals in favor of a stadium and other amenities. They are not working and it is not the best use of the valuable land.

But, in 2013, if you approve a community plan for nearby Barrio Logan that effects one small strip of land that may or may not have an effect on maritime-oriented businesses many, many years from now, you are ruining a vital industry on our waterfront and must be stopped.

And this, of course, is in an editorial where they’re giving someone else grief for changing positions.

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