Midway planners zero in on vision for sports arena, surrounding businesses
by Dave Schwab
Jan 29, 2014 | 2987 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Redesigning and redefining land use in the sprawling Midway-Pacific Highway Corridor continued in January as members of the Midway Community Planning Advisory Group discussed what they’d like and not like to see in their emerging community plan update.

The community plan for the Midway/Pacific Highway Corridor that provides land-use designations and policies guiding future development hasn’t been updated since 1991.

Since September, senior city planner Tait Galloway has been walking Midway/Pacific Highway planners through an overview of their planning group area, which has the Valley View Casino Center (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena) at its center, surrounded by commercial. and light and heavy industrial-zoned areas.

The plan area is divided into subdistricts, including the sports arena, Kemper, Dutch Flats, Camino Del Rio, Channel, Lytton Street, Kurtz Street and Hancock Street transportation corridor areas.

Tait said one of the goals of the “discussion draft” he and planners are collaborating on for the new community plan is to create “a more pedestrian scale and feel” to lend more of a main-street atmosphere, encouraging smaller stores to come in.

“Did you study any options with the sports arena not being there?” asked Midway planner Cathy Kenton, who was told by city officials one non-sports arena alternative was being studied.

Advisory group chairwoman Melanie Nickel pointed out there is one important consideration to be factored into any rethinking of area land use.

“No one much lives here, pretty much everyone arrives by car,” Nickel said.

She added the community is not interested in seeing redevelopment characterized by lots of blacktop or concrete parking lots, which already predominate.

“If there isn’t a sports arena, than maybe there could be some kind of entertainment focus there,” said Nickel.

City engineer Galloway responded that “a big theater with shopping around it, or an ice-skating rink or park space” could be redevelopment alternatives to be considered. He added local planners could look to other areas elsewhere in the state and nation that have similarly redeveloped urban spaces like the Midway/Pacific Highway Corridor.

Jarvis Ross, a planner representing the nearby Peninsula Community Planning Group covering Point Loma, said any redrawn map of land use in the Midway area will necessarily have to focus on traffic impacts in the notoriously crowded and cramped urban corridor linking coastal communities, Old Town and the San Diego River.

Galloway said aesthetics is a critical consideration in re-envisioning what the Midway/Pacific Highway Corridor can be, helping it to achieve its full potential.

“We need to focus on green streets for sustainability measures, using shade trees and traffic calming, developing elements connecting you to park space accommodating pedestrians and bicyclists,” Galloway said.

The advisory group will resume discussion of the Midway/Pacific Highway Plan Update at its Feb. 19 meeting, when it is hoped planners will vote on some key provisions of a new community plan.

The group meets the third Wednesday of the month at 3 p.m. at San Diego Community College West City Campus, 3249 Fordham St. in Room 208.
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