The San Diego Unified Port District has invited the public to submit scoping comments on its proposal to amend the Port Master Plan. Parties have until November 18 to file their scoping comments with the port.

Here is notice of a public scoping meeting and revised notice of preparation for a draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the North Embarcadero Port Master Plan Amendment with the contact information for Senior Redevelopment Planner Jim Hirsch, who is accepting scoping comments and will manage the EIR process.

I submitted my own scoping comments on November 12, calling for the port to assess the feasibility of moving the building heights and densities of future redevelopment projects on the blocks along the North Embarcadero to the east portions of those blocks, freeing up space for a linear series of bayfront parks, plazas, gardens and other public uses along the area, stretching south from West Hawthorne Street to a re-opened B Street linked to the new Lane Field Park.

The notice of preparation calls for rezoning about half of the B Street Pier from public commercial and recreational uses in order to create new security zones around the cruise ships that currently dock at the pier, in compliance with new federal Homeland Security laws and regulations. In my comments, I suggest that before that rezoning is considered, the port should complete a thorough feasibility analysis of moving the two cruise ships that currently use the 9 acre B Street Pier to the already secure 900 plus acre site at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal (TAMP). Moving the ships to TAMP would allow for new synergies to be created between our cruise ship and convention industries, similar to what is already being done in Vancouver, and would not interfere with existing freight operations at the terminal facility, which is currently underutilized. The additional foot traffic that would be created around the proposed new Spinnaker Hotel and an expanded Convention Center would enhance the economic life of that area, and cruise passengers would be embarking and debarking within walking distance of the Gaslamp District, increasing business there as well.

This move would free up the B Street Pier for more public commercial and recreational uses. Instead of being isolated at a new pier at the foot of Grape Street, our Harbor Excursion fleet and Hornblower cruise vessels could berth at the B Street Pier, along with some of the older sailing vessels in the Maritime Museum’s expanding fleet of antique vessels. This would create new activity centers that would draw more local residents and visitors to the pier, which could support the construction of new seafood restaurants.

The port is also looking for away to revitalize our local commercial fishing fleet, and allowing commercial fishing boats to tie up at the B Street Pier to unload, process and sell their fresh fish would add to the excitement and activity revitalizing our North Embarcadero area. All these new activities would do far more for the economic vitality of our waterfront than making it a fenced off parking lot for private cruise line ships.

Please take the time to weigh in with your own scoping comments by November 18, and let’s make our embarcadero a lively, exciting place for local residents and visitors to enjoy for generations to come. According to the California constitution, state tidelands are owned by the public. So, let’s truly make the waterfront our own.

In addition to his other affiliations, Don Wood is a member of the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition, an alliance of local civic organizations dedicated to preserving and enhancing public access to downtown San Diego’s waterfront, which is currently involved in ongoing litigation with the port over its alleged failure to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act when it approved the proposal to build the new permanent cruise ship terminal structure on the Broadway Pier.

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