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This is a very interesting debate: Working Port vs. Entertainment and Living Port. If the Chargers do, indeed, start to work seriously with National City and the San Diego Unified Port District on a stadium proposal for the bayfront, they may encounter opposition from some in the business community. I hadn’t imagined that but it makes sense. Here’s a sample. I got an e-mail from Howard Jarson, from Solar Turbines.

The Port does not have the potential of becoming a “megaport,” but with investment by the public and private sector, the Port can grow.

San Diego Bay can be dredged and additional facilities can be built to support increased ocean freight traffic and related businesses. The Port can play a more important role in West Coast shipping, but building a stadium on prime waterfront land cuts off significant growth opportunities for future water related businesses.

And another thought from lawyer Laurie Wright:

San Diego should be a working port, but the Port District and City seem to be intent on turning it into a place for play.

It’s become “Palm Springs on the Water.” Superficial and boring as soon as you’ve done one harbor cruise. There’s nothing else but hotels and restaurants. With this trend it will never be a great city. Boston. New York. Los Angeles. San Francisco. Seattle.

On the first point: San Diego Bay can be dredged. This admits that the bay is not suitable to be much more of a working port. Do we really want to dredge again? We already have Shelter Island and Harbor Island – both products of dredging. What’s next? Union-Tribune Island?

From what I know about what’s on the bottom of the bay, we may just want to leave it down there.

On the second point, a true working port has consequences as well. The cruise ships already belch out a disgusting amount of air pollution (Mike Lee at the U-T has done some good work following up on that issue). More freighters wouldn’t exactly help with annoyances like that. But Jarson does bring up a good point: A Chargers stadium may not be the most economically beneficial use of such a valuable piece of property.

They do, after all, only make use of such a stadium a small fraction of the year. And, after the stadium is built, the jobs there are not that great.

Like many San Diegans, I am hobbled by the fact that I like football and think San Diego without the Chargers would be quite a loss.

But we can’t blind ourselves to the region’s pending challenges. As the housing market continues to cool, a vital engine of the local economy is sputtering. Our municipalities have made themselves overly reliant on the housing market and its contributions to tax revenues.

The task of football fans will be to find a solution that vigorously protects taxpayers at the same time it protects the local economy and infrastructure.

Does such a solution exist? If not, and the Spanos family cannot respect San Diego’s challenges enough to be patient, we may have to say goodbye to the team.

SCOTT LEWIS

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