Jack Carpenter is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and co-founder of the 90-member Regional Design Advisory Council (RDAC).
The Midway District neighborhood has the unique potential for becoming a wonderful place to live. It’s bordered by major highways, located near popular beaches, tourist destinations like Old Town and Liberty Station, and minutes away from the airport.
But something is standing in the way.
If San Diego doesn’t lift the building height limit, Midway will be just another vehicle-oriented neighborhood impacting our road system and particularly Rosecrans Street. With increased density you can make public transportation viable. With its large width, Sports Arena Boulevard has the potential to be a bus-oriented transportation spine for the area. As has been done in other communities, a portion of the boulevard could be designated for bus only rapid transit.
If we raise the height limit, we can have a new Sports Arena and more importantly, more valuable housing, and in particular, more affordable housing. Don’t just think of the Midway District area alone for it is integral to the Old Town and NAVWAR site as well. With a combined area increase of over 20,000 new homes, it would take the housing pressure off the surrounding neighborhoods of Point Loma, Mission Hills, Mission Valley, Linda Vista and Clairemont.
Right now, the Midway District is not an exemplary community of our city yet it has the great potential to be central to San Diego’s future development. It is positioned at the intersection of Interstate 5 and 8. The connection point between the new Mid-Coast Trolley and the lines running downtown and east through Mission Valley at the Old Town Transit Station. The future SANDAG terminal will give direct access to the Airport. The Midway District could be at the core of our current and future transportation system.
This would give Midway District residents access to major San Diego employment centers via public transportation, helping to reduce greenhouse gasses from automobile emissions and supporting our Climate Action Plan.
This is an extremely important point as there are millions of square feet of proposed and under construction projects at the Navy Broadway Complex, Horton Plaza, Seaport Village and the old Padres parking lot. The latter is tagged for housing but probably, like the other downtown housing, upper end. With those workers unable to afford to live downtown, we could end up reversing the freeway rush hour. Yes, and more greenhouse gasses spewing into our atmosphere. Those downtown developments will need low-income restaurant, coffee shop and retail workers, lots of them.
Without views but good access the Midway District would be able to address that need without attracting only expensive housing. It should be a balanced community of varying housing types and supporting development.
The state has broken the coastal 30 foot height limit on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach. This focuses on the very low-income housing we are talking about.
The Midway District is immediately adjacent to vibrant Old Town, Little Italy and Mission Valley. It could become an optimum place for San Diegans to live, play and work.
Stop worrying about nonexistent view corridors that don’t apply here and think about how your family members could afford to live in San Diego and near you.