Port of San Diego looks ahead with Chula Vista and integrated plans

Port of San Diego looks ahead with Chula Vista and integrated plans

SAN DIEGO — Commissioners of the Port of San Diego heard two presentations at their final meeting of 2014, each informing them of updates to separate waterfront developments, including a specific project in Chula Vista and a broader plan affecting the harbor as a whole.

A representative from RIDA Development Corp. briefly spoke with commissioners about his company’s vision for Chula Vista’s new waterfront, while the port’s land use management director provided a progress report on the harbor’s integrated master plan.

A public-private partnership project involving Pacifica Companies, the Port of San Diego and city of Chula Vista, the new waterfront would include many new features, such as a reconfigured marina and improved navigational channel. Other elements of the new waterfront include visitor-serving retail, public promenades, residences and a bayfront resort.

RIDA successfully responded to Chula Vista’s request for qualifications and had members of its corporate team provide introductory comments to the Port of San Diego’s commissioners Dec. 9.

Ira Mitzner, president of RIDA, said his company is aiming to make the new Chula Vista bayfront and marina a “transformational” project.

“What’s going to be different about this project is that [it] is going to go ahead and change a community and create opportunities … for the overall community,” Mitzner said.

Mitzner did not provide any details on what elements would be included in his firm’s plans for the Chula Vista bayfront, only telling the Port of San Diego commissioners RIDA has a trusted reputation of completing multimillion-dollar projects and activating public spaces.

Later in the meeting, Jason Giffen, the environmental and land use management director for the Port of San Diego, updated commissioners on a multi-phase visioning process to ultimately develop portions of San Diego Bay.

Commissioners were updated on Phase 1-A of the Integrated Port Master Plan. The second element of a two-part first phase, Phase 1-A specifically focuses on producing “options and preliminary concept plans for Port planning districts that take into account financial considerations” and provide the initial regulatory framework and economic assessment for future port development.

“Integrated planning represents a significant effort of enormous magnitude. It’s the first time we’re doing it,” Giffen said. “It’s important to the district as well as the region.”

The integrated master plan meets several of the port’s strategic goals, including the fostering of “a vibrant waterfront destination where residents and visitors converge.”

In community feedback provided to port officials, some common themes included adding piers, improving access to San Diego Bay, creating islands from future dredging projects and ensuring the number of available berths is not decreased because of larger vessels becoming more prevalent in the harbor.

Lesley Nishihira, a senior planner with the Port of San Diego, said the integrated master plan aims to address land use and water use compatibility.

At the outset of the visioning process, Phase 1 defined the overall goals of the master plan. A draft of the master plan update is expected to be completed during Phase 2. The final two phases focus on completing impact reports and presenting plans to the California Coastal Commission.

While no specific plans were included in the presentations and commissioners did not take any formal action, the Integrated Port Master Plan could have far-reaching impact on several cities and marinas connected to San Diego Bay. In addition to a large marina at Harbor and Shelter islands in San Diego, cities along the bay such as Coronado and Chula Vista have slips housing recreational boats. How those harbor uses would be impacted by the Integrated Port Master Plan remains to be seen.

Mission Bay, also home to recreational boating marinas, could be impacted by the Integrated Port Master Plan, as some input from the community suggested the self-sustained waterfront between the city’s urban core and La Jolla somehow be connected to San Diego Bay.

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