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Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008 | For 43 years, Raymond Leyba has unloaded ships at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal. It’s not a glamorous job, the days can be long and hot and the cargo heavy. But Raymond takes tremendous pride in his work as a union longshoreman. He followed in the footsteps of his father, embarking on a career that, while tough and dangerous, provided a modest income.
Thanks to his union job on the docks, Raymond has been able to raise a family, own a house and send his children to school. Like his father, Raymond never wanted to look for a hand out, just the opportunity to work hard and join the ranks of San Diego’s middle-class.
Unfortunately, stories like Raymond’s are becoming harder and harder to find. Too many of our region’s good, middle-class industrial jobs have been replaced by lower-paying service level jobs, especially along our waterfront.
Our 10th Avenue Marine Terminal is the exception to the massive gentrification along the San Diego Bay. The working terminal currently helps to generate more than $1.8 billion a year for our regional economy, and is the central mechanism to providing 19,000 jobs that pay good, middle-class wages with health care and a small retirement.
But now, a very small group of developers want to put the final nail in the coffin to our industrial, maritime economy by developing the marine terminal right out of existence.
The developers who placed Proposition B on the ballot claim that we can have it all. They claim that they will protect these vital jobs, and construct a 100-acre concrete platform on top of the terminal to provide hotels, a stadium and other commercial buildings. But if you read Prop. B, you will find that the plans are vague, the funding unclear, and the basic notion idealistic, at best. Their idea to place a platform over a marine terminal is completely untested, and their massive structure would be placed on top of an earthquake fault, making it seismically unsafe.
So why, if the central idea of Prop B is so flawed, would the proponents spend millions to try to deceive San Diego County voters into passing the initiative? Under Prop B, if the platform is unfeasible, the developers will have still amended the Port Master Plan’s designation for the Terminal District from maritime to multi-use, and the rights to develop there. This will literally pave the way for commercial development along the working waterfront.
Our public tidelands belong to all Californians, not just developers who are only looking for a quick dollar. We hope that the voters of San Diego, National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and Coronado see past this deceptive initiative, and vote no on Prop B.
Lorena Gonzalez is the secretary-treasurer/chief executive officer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org“>email@example.com. The piece is part of a week’s worth of commentary for or against Proposition B and discussing the future of San Diego’s harbor. Join it here.