PLA chairman Robert Tripp Jackson welcomed the crowd, noting the community service organization’s members “do a lot of hard work, and they’ve been doing it for a long time.”
Organized in 1961, the PLA hosted its first membership dinner in 1964. It has striven over the years to improve the aesthetics of the Peninsula, including removing unsightly billboards, planting numerous varieties of trees and creating an eco-friendly garden on medians at Nimitz and West Point Loma boulevards.
Besides beautifying the Peninsula, PLA also works directly with federal, state and local agencies on projects to improve the quality of life for residents.
Following a slideshow depicting PLA improvement projects, new board members were sworn in by interim District 2 City Councilman Ed Harris.
“Every time you drive around, you see the [beautified] boxes, the trees, the medians. What this organization does is really important,” said Harris.
Bob Bolton, director of airport design and construction, reviewed construction that is under way on the north side of the airport to add a 21,000-square-foot central distribution center, a new rental-car center in one building and a fixed-base operator building for general-aviation aircraft, while realigning the airport’s Washington Street entrance to improve traffic circulation and safety.
“The rental-car building, a $316 million project, will be completed in August 2015,” said Bolton.
He said improvements will include a fire lane, a landscape buffer, a drainage swale, a new sidewalk, street lighting and palm trees.
Bolton said San Diego is the 14th-largest rental-car market in the country and that it’s also “the third least-expensive rental market in the top 20.”
About 14 percent of travelers arriving at Lindbergh Field rent a car an average of 4.6 days, Bolton said, adding that the new rental-car center will streamline the entire rental process.
“It will take all 80 buses and consolidate them on the north side of the airfield,” Bolton said.
Plans for the rental-car center include a restaurant, he said.
“The restaurant is being developed as a shell space with views of downtown, the harbor and the airfield,” he said, noting the new restaurant will not be geared specifically toward airport customers, but rather is meant to serve the entire community and be a place where “people can meet and enjoy themselves.”
More than 16 rental-car brands will be represented at the new facility, Bolton said. There are also plans for several pieces of public art to adorn the facility.
Unified Port of San Diego CEO Wayne Darbeau said the Port has downsized staff significantly over the last few years, going from 700 employees to 530, while reducing its departments from as many as 20 down to 11 and cutting its executives from 11 to five.
The Port’s top official noted the news of late is mostly good.
“The cruise business is coming back and there’s been a significant uptick in maritime revenue of $30 million from the two cruise-ship terminals,” Darbeau said.
Joel Valenzuela, the Port’s director of maritime operations, pointed out San Diego is one of only two natural, deep-water ports in California.
“The key to our mission is the preservation and development of water-dependent uses of the bay, including cruise and cargo operations, as well as the maritime industries working the waterfront shipyards, ship repair facilities and the Navy’s presence,” Valenzuela said.
The really good news, said Valenzuela, is that Disney has announced it will have seven home-ported calls in San Diego next season.
Darbeau characterized San Diego as a “global gateway” for cargo.
He said San Diego is the fourth-largest state port in terms of volume of business, trailing only Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland. He said San Diego is the primary port terminal for Dole fresh fruit as well as being a major shipping point for mangos from Latin America.
Capt. Scott Adams, commanding officer of Naval Base Point Loma, gave a presentation on the Navy’s plans to relocate a section of its 17.3-mile fuel pipeline between Naval Base Point Loma and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar that would extend from the coast to Rosecrans Street.