On KPBS on Friday, we had a moment to talk about Proposition B, the proposal that would put the deck on top of the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal so that football fans and/or hoteliers and/or aquarium visitors could party up top while the hard hats unload bananas below.
You may have noticed that I find this to be the most interesting of local propositions. I think it’s obvious that the Chargers’ stadium boosters have coalesced around this as a chance to get a new stadium and keep the team in town.
I thought Ron Powell’s story in the Union Tribune this weekend was interesting and I’m glad he did it.
I thought he buried the lede though.
He had some big news for those following the debate.
Remember, supporters of Proposition B have decided to do something clever: They argue that it’s possible to protect the maritime cargo operations that take place at Tenth Avenue and build a deck on top of them from which we can erect a new stadium or a new hotel or whatever we’ve always dreamed of for that picturesque corner of downtown.
They say the big-brained engineers can make anything happen. And they pointed to the some of the biggest brains in the engineering world — the firm CH2M Hill — as the group that would help them figure out how.
But Powell wrote this weekend that’s not the case anymore.
CH2M Hill, an international engineering firm, did studies for the proponents, concluding that the deck idea is doable.
But the Colorado-based company says it is no longer working for the developers and wrote in a letter to a San Diego port official, “We have directed them not to use our name at all.”
The supporters’ argument about Proposition B has been a frustrating one. On the one hand, they want us to dream about all the beautiful things they could build on top of this engineering marvel. But on the other hand, they refuse to engage in a discussion about how that would be physically possible.
I talked to Richard Chase, the main proponent of the measure, a couple of weeks ago.
The people opposing Chase — the labor unions, port officials and politicians — say it would be impossible to put a deck on top of Tenth Avenue and have there be enough room underneath for the cranes, trucks and whatever else port workers would need to carry on with their importing and exporting.
This has been the best argument at least. There are all kinds of other concerns but the one about the deck needing enough supporting pillars to make it physically impossible to, say, unload a huge windmill, is a good one.
So what do the proponents of Proposition B say in response to this?
Chase said that if whatever they decided to build on top could not be supported without ruining the port cargo activities, then it simply wouldn’t get built. They wouldn’t get the permits.
That’s it. That’s their answer.
And what about those who say that a stadium could not be supported without so many supporting pillars that it would make it impossible to unload and move cargo underneath?
“You’d never get the permits to build the stadium. If in fact their concerns were correct, we would never be able to build this project,” Chase said.
In other words, we’re just approving a possibility. Details are for another day.