Midway District / File photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

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.

Join the Conversation


  1. No doubt the author hopes to profit if the coastal height limit is repealed by voters. Vote NO on Measure C.

    1. It would be naive to think that we should never pursue development or increased density because it might make profits for someone. The arguments here are that Midway is aptly suited to handle the increased density.

      Put your trust in our institutions to ensure traffic and affordable housing are prioritized, through a transparent process, to deliver the best long-term future for our city.

    2. Please don’t make unsubstantiated comments about people like this. I know Jack, and I am certain this retired architect will not profit personally from the redevelopment of the Midway District.

      1. So you’re saying a long time architect(“retired” or not) would have no reason to promote development??? He has no money still invested in development firms? And no friends/family still involved in the business???
        Your naivety is concerning.

  2. If we don’t make urban areas (like Midway) more dense, then it’ll be the end of suburban neighborhoods. There’ll be many mid density apartments built in traditionally single family neighborhoods if urban areas aren’t allowed to expand to meet capacity.
    VOTE YES on Measure C to SAVE Our Neighborhoods.
    The author knows what he’s talking about.

  3. Radical densification with no infrastructure upgrades to match – not even a hint of any. Typical city of San Diego MO. We get Ash Street debacles and they just want us to “trust” them to do the right thing. You are very naive if you think Measure C is going to turn out well. The measure is intentionally vague. And the politicians and their greedy developers will be long gone when it doesn’t turn out the way they promised. And those of us with a tourniquet around the top of the peninsula will pay the price with gridlock, more pollution and oh yes, a sports arena they admit is too small to attract a major sports team. How gullible are we? No on C.

  4. Finally, something about Measure C that isn’t a completely unsubstantiated conspiracy theory! The reason opponents of Measure C have to rely on imagined backroom deals and “slippery slope” arguments is because the Measure itself is completely airtight. We’re talking about an area of San Diego where very few people actually live because almost the entire thing is currently surface parking lots, strip malls, and warehouses. As somebody who lived in Midway, it was terrifying to be a pedestrian on streets that prioritize car throughput at freeway speeds. The bikeways get treated like luxury cruising space by people in oversized pickup trucks, so I generally biked slowly on the sidewalk.

    This entire area is so long overdue for conversion into a functional, livable neighborhood instead of being treated like a glorified freeway and car storage area. A bus-only lane to support SANDAG’s proposed Rapid line would make my commute from OB so much faster and mixed-use density in Midway would bring so much more economic life to OB and other surrounding neighborhoods. Not to mention it would turn Midway into a place I’d like to visit instead of a scar on the landscape separating OB from the other lovely parts of our city.

    Also can’t wait for a big supply of housing to slow down the rent increases in the area.

    Yes on C!!

    1. There is no reason why Midway can’t be converted “into a functional, livable neighborhood” without abandoning the 30’ height limit. No on C.

  5. Please cite where the 30 foot limit is exceeded on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach? Unless the building is invisible, that is patently FALSE!

  6. “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.”
    This could happen in the Midway District as well, with an actual guarantee of desperately needed low income housing. No such thing in Measure C.

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