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Wednesday, March 11, 2009 | Last November, more than 70 percent of Port district voters soundly rejected the idea of converting the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal to a dual use development that could have included a new stadium. Unfortunately, many special interests are still suggesting that the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal is a viable alternative for a stadium, hotels or other non-maritime developments. They should listen to the community. No means no.

A united front of businesses, industrial tenants, ship repair companies, environmental groups, labor organizations and other interested parties have all made it very clear that they will fight off any efforts to put a Chargers stadium on the maritime terminal. The Port of San Diego is also on record stating that this is not a proper use for state tidelands property.

The maritime industry contributes nearly $8 billion and 42,000 jobs to the regional economy — with family-sustaining salaries and benefits that help keep San Diego’s middle class afloat. Why replace those jobs with lower paying jobs in the hotel and tourism sector?

The Port and the maritime industry also provide vital support to the U.S. Navy. The Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal facility is one of 19 “strategic ports” designated by the military that have agreements to load or offload Navy equipment and personnel on short notice, requiring heightened security since Sep. 11, 2001. Without a fully functioning terminal, the region stands at risk of losing Navy operations.

Placing a stadium or other development on the terminal would have a devastating effect on the entire region. It would have a detrimental effect on maritime trade and would negatively affect Port operations. A stadium, or other development, would lead to a substantial loss of operating space and send a terrible message to companies whose incoming shipments provide jobs and economic benefits. Why would they commit to being our customers when we won’t commit to maintaining a viable maritime operation?

The Port of San Diego is an important niche port, handling fruit, cement, structural steel, fertilizer, industrial components and other bulk cargo that the bigger ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles do not appreciate. A less competitive Port means fewer high paying jobs that fuel our economy.

The industrial waterfront is close to railroad service, freeway access and deep-water berthing. The environmental impact of losing this regional asset would result in thousands of additional trucks on our highways causing substantially more pollution. The region would suffer, especially adjacent communities.

San Diegans’ cost of goods and commodities currently imported through the Port would increase. Considering the current economic climate it is not in the best interest of the region.

There is very limited space available for deep water ports in the state of California, and once it’s lost, it’s lost forever.

We encourage a solution that protects everyone’s interests and retains our NFL football team. It may be time to reconsider the Qualcomm Stadium site. The stadium already has the required infrastructure and a central location.

The Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal is a regional asset that absolutely has to be protected to maintain jobs, safeguard security and protect the economy and environment.

Ed Plant is the co-chair of the Working Waterfront Group. Lee Wilson is president of the San Diego Port Tenants Association and a member of the Working Waterfront Group.

WWG is a broad coalition of businesses, environmental interests and labor that strongly opposes a stadium for the Chargers on the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal or any other location that challenges the existence of important working waterfront businesses. Submit a letter to the editor here.

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