To hear a group of developers talk about it, building a deck over the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal would have been a cure to many of San Diego’s problems.

To hear the rest of the region’s elected officials and opinion leaders talk about it, the concept was a misrepresented idea that would’ve forced well-paying blue-collar jobs off the waterfront.

At the polls Tuesday, voters in San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Coronado and Imperial Beach appeared to side with their elected officials, rejecting the idea by a 71-28 percent vote with 19.5 percent of the ballots counted.

The ballot initiative was reminiscent of the 2006 proposition to move the region’s international airport to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar — a demonstration of how not to pitch a ballot proposition. The proponents failed to build consensus. They failed to get key political support. Even two San Diego politicians who signaled that they liked the concept — City Councilman Jim Madaffer and City Councilman-elect Carl DeMaio — wouldn’t formally endorse it. The region’s five congressional representatives spoke out in bipartisan objection to it.

The initiative would have cleared the way for constructing a 40-foot-tall deck above existing cargo operations at the terminal, one of two maritime ports in the region. Faced with a long-running debate about whether the region’s waterfront should be used for commercial or industrial uses, the developers, Richard Chase, Nancy Chase and Frank Gallagher, proposed to accommodate both by creating new land atop the existing maritime jobs, making room for hotels or a football stadium.

And it would have given the developers a leg up: Anyone interested in developing the cargo terminal would have had 60 days to submit plans to the Unified Port of San Diego.

While the project potentially offered the region a site for a new Chargers stadium and for new hotel jobs, neither the team nor the hotel workers union backed the proposition. The San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, the umbrella organization representing local labor groups, was a vocal opponent. And the Chargers stayed quiet, too.

One Chargers booster signed the ballot argument in favor of the concept, a document distributed to every registered voter. But with the team’s effort to find a site in Chula Vista dragging, it may stand a better chance negotiating with the city of San Diego, where Mayor Jerry Sanders has signaled a heightened interest in talking to the team.

ROB DAVIS

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