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California voters are going to face dozens of statewide and local ballot propositions in November. Without question the strangest and most implausible of all these measures is a local initiative in San Diego — Proposition B. If enacted, this fantasy island in the sky would allow for the construction of a 100 acre deck suspended over a marine terminal.

The deck would supposedly support the construction of a football stadium and hotel facility on top of a working marine terminal. Underneath the 100,000 or so people attending football games would be ships unloading cargo, trucks, forklifts moving back and forth along with a jet fuel storage facility (barbeques at tailgates would be strongly discouraged).

Sound too incredible to be true? Unfortunately not. Interestingly, the proponents of Proposition B have managed to unify just about everyone in San Diego against this measure. Labor unions, the entire local Congressional delegation, environmental groups, chambers of commerce, mayors, City Council members, the San Diego Union-Tribune, taxpayer associations, international trade organizations, retired military leaders, the California State Lands Commission and academics are all opposed to this measure.

The proposed construction of a 100-acre concrete deck, sufficient to support a sports/hotel complex over the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal raises extraordinary engineering, cost, feasibility, legal and practical questions. For the initiative’s proponents to argue that such a facility is compatible with the terminal’s cargo operations is disingenuous.

In reality, the initiative will bring about the end of a much needed international trade facility that is vital to our economy. The loss of the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal will result in the loss of more than 19,000 jobs for San Diego County and once these maritime facilities are lost, they cannot be replaced.

Perhaps more importantly, the initiative may also be a harbinger of even more threats to face our commercial ports — as if they didn’t have enough to begin with. Whether the initiative is “pie in the sky” or “too good to be true” really matters less than the fact that it seeks to diminish San Diego’s and California’s joint-role as a trade gateway, threatens the loss of maritime and logistics jobs, raises serious port security concerns and proposes the permanent loss of the use of public trust lands to a land grab by private developers.

For now I’m cautiously optimistic. I have faith that, once they’re informed about the phantasmagoria of outrageous claims by the developers, voters in San Diego will recognize the difference between this fantasy island in the sky and reality.

— JOHN MCLAURIN

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