On October 13, the Port of San Diego board finally gave staff permission to proceed with the environmental review for the redevelopment of the National City Marine Terminal.
Staffers said it will take nearly a year to complete. The long, slow — more than six years — tug-of-war over the scraps of the terminal, which is dominated by Pasha Automotive and served by cargo-hauling trains, is left to the Sycuan tribe, GB Capital, and National City.
Discussion became complicated when the three groups disagreed with each other. National City, for example, doesn't want a gas station and convenience store Sycuan is proposing at the entry to the terminal. And no one, except GB Capital, thinks outdoor boat storage is a good idea. GB Capital, which has also redone the Point Loma marina, wants to put outside boat storage racks along the new, curved path that railroad tracks will take to Pasha Automotive.
"Dry boat storage may not serve as an attractive feature for this gateway," said Anna Bezides, a port planner, who recommended that GB relocate the racks. Commissioners agreed with the recommendation, citing the "Florida effect." But Glenn Bay, for GB Capital, disagreed. The company may eventually construct a building around the boat racks that can go three to four boats high.
"To think this boat storage is going to be ugly is wrong — it's going to be a rack in a building," Bay said. "It creates a buffer between maritime industries and the public recreation area."
National City mayor Ron Morrison took issue with Sycuan Development's proposal — which includes a gas station and a hotel at the entrance to the Marine Terminal area.
"We really want to give it a 'wow' factor," said Glenn Quirota for Sycuan. He described a 180-room hotel along with the gas station and a fast-casual dining restaurant — think Denny's — on the north side of Bay Marina Drive, just west of I-5.
"Putting a gas station and a convenience store was something we don't see as a 'Wow' factor and we want to be sure that's addressed," Quirota said. "It's a backwater area, not easy to see and not easy to get to, so when people see the entrance, it should be welcoming and defining. No one is going to drive from La Mesa or Rancho Bernardo to see that — it's not a go-to."
Mayor Morrison and the Environmental Health Coalition are also not in agreement about what to do with the additional 2.5 acres of land that the city convinced the port to add to Pepper Park.
Alicia Sanchez has advocated for more soccer fields in the added space. Morrison said that what the city needs is a family gathering place.
"People in National City want a family and event park," Morrison said. "We have plenty of soccer space in Kimball Park — and we have professional soccer fields that aren't used as much as they could be. No one lives near Pepper Park and it should be a destination."