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Environment Report: Coastal Neighborhoods Supported Measure E Least
By MacKenzie Elmer, November 9, 2020

San Diegans have spoken, cracking a hole in the dike that was a 48-year rule against building anything taller than three stories along the coast.

The Midway District, an edgy industrial zone home to the aged Pechanga Sports Arena, will be able to attract new and taller development after over 56 percent of voters approved Measure E.

But when you map out those votes by precinct, it reveals an interesting trend. Vince Vasquez, an independent election data analyst, tweeted those results after Election Day.

The whole peninsula – Ocean Beach, Point Loma and the Midway District itself – showed the least support for the measure (though a majority still supported it in the latter two neighborhoods). Precincts farthest from the coast carried the height limit removal to victory instead.

Dike Anyiwo, a Measure E campaign leader and vice chair of Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group, said there was a lot of fear circulating among the planning groups in the areas that voted against E.

“Folks didn’t understand what the measure was doing, what our intent for the campaign and planning group really was,” he said. “When we talk about equity and what’s fair … San Diego at large knows what it wants.”

Public messaging from the Measure E campaign framed the height limit as a limit on job creation, housing and climate action.

“We saw a strong response from working class communities because they are most impacted by these three intersecting crises,” said Nicole Capretz, founder and executive director of the Climate Action Campaign. “They know firsthand the need to build more workforce housing in all neighborhoods, especially those in the urban core near jobs and transit.”

Sixty-one percent of voters in Pomerado, and neighborhoods east of I-15, voted for Measure E. So did those in the urban core like North Park, 61 percent yes, and Hillcrest, 63 percent yes.

Ocean Beach was the only precinct with less than 50 percent support, at 45 percent voting yes.

“That makes sense because people in that area know it’s going to destroy their quality of life,” said John McNab, leader of Save Our Access, a group that opposed Measure E.

McNab, who lives in Golden Hill, said erasing the height limit is like giving developers a “blank check,” making way for thousands more to crowd oceanside living.

“The reason people voted for the 30-foot height limit in the first place was public access to the coast,” McNab said.

McNab’s group is still undertaking legal action to try and undo the measure. Save Our Access’ Aug. 27 lawsuit claims the city didn’t consider the environmental impacts of removing coastal height limits under California’s Environmental Quality Act.

The case hasn’t moved forward beyond the city of San Diego filing a notice on Sept. 25 that it’d like to hold a settlement meeting.

Everett DeLano, who represents Save Our Access, said Monday that they’re waiting on the city to produce documents but made no further comment.

We’ll have to wait and see whether the courts will uphold what the majority of San Diegans want.



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