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Early returns highlight uncertainty for Measure C, which aims to lift the height limit in the Midway District

San Diego voters are so far undecided about Measure C, the initiative that aims to lift the 30-foot building height limit in the Midway District and pave the way for the redevelopment. The measure has slightly more support than opposition, based on early returns from the Registrar of Voters.

Measure C proposes to strike the entirety of the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan area from San Diego’s Coastal Height Limit Overlay Zone, which was originally established by Proposition D in 1972. An identical measure, Measure E, was approved by 57 percent of voters in 2020 but deemed illegal by the court last year.

“San Diegans want homes to be more affordable and there’s no time to wait,” said San Diego City Councilmember Chris Cate, who led the effort to get the measure on the ballot. “Measure C will do this and much more, and I’m optimistic my fellow citizens will rise to this challenge.”

North of downtown, the Midway District is perhaps best known for its aging sports arena, large military bases, congested thoroughfares and strip malls. The 1,324-acre region — sandwiched between the freeway, airport, San Diego River and Point Loma — has a small residential community. The area is home to approximately 4,600 people who reside in 1,982 housing units, nearly all of which are apartments or condos, according to the community plan that was approved in 2018.

A substantial portion of the district, or 669 acres, is owned by government entities, with the Marine Corps Recruit Depot; Naval Base Point Loma, Old Town Complex and the city of San Diego’s sports arena-adjacent real estate making up the largest chunks.

Measure C’s approval would allow construction of buildings up to 100 feet on some parcels, based on city zoning restrictions. Passage would open the door to redevelopment of city-owned real estate at 3220, 3240, 3250 and 3500 Sports Arena, currently home to Pechanga Arena San Diego and its parking lot. Earlier this year, San Diego City Council members selected the Midway Rising team to redo the 48-acre site with 4,250 apartment homes, a new 16,000-seat arena, a 200-room hotel, and 20 acres of plaza and park space.

“Last time we got crushed and this time it’s a very close race,” said John McNab, who runs the Save Our Access nonprofit and is helping to fund the opposition campaign. “So it shows that the more that people understand the issue, the more adamant they are against raising the height limit.”

As of Oct. 28, the Yes on C campaign had raised $675,263.59 in funds, whereas the opposition campaign, Reform Local Government PAC, had raised $39,706.63.

Measure C may ultimately be decided in court. In August, Save Our Access filed a civil action against the city contesting the legality of the measure. The suit maintains that the measure is in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act. The group was successful in invalidating the initial measure that sought to lift the coastal height limit in the Midway District.

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