Aerial view of Midway District
An aerial view of the Midway District along Sports Arena Boulevard. Courtesy City of San Diego

 A city of San Diego measure that would remove the 30- foot coastal height limit for buildings in the Midway District remained too close to call Wednesday.

As votes were tallied from Tuesday’s election, the yes and no votes were nearly evenly split on Measure C, likely leaving the proposal undecided for days as vote-by-mail ballots continue to be tallied. The measure was ahead by 1.5% in initial election results, but that lead has diminished with each subsequent tally. As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, it was ahead by just 623 votes.

The county Registrar of Voters estimates there are still 500,000 ballots to be counted.

Measure C’s passage would exclude the 1,324-acre Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan area from the existing 30-foot height limit on buildings, which supporters say will spur housing opportunities and revitalize a run-down neighborhood.

Opponents say removing the height limit would block coastal views and cause density issues leading to traffic congestion in the area.

In 2020, voters approved an identical measure to remove the height limit, but opponents sued the city and a judge ruled in their favor, stating that the city did not conduct proper environmental analysis before putting that measure before voters.

Opponents have sued again to block Measure C, alleging the city’s latest environmental impact analysis only studied the measure’s effect on views, and not other factors such as traffic, air and water quality.

Measure C’s supporters include San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, Councilman Chris Cate, and the Midway Community Planning Group. In their ballot statement, supporters say the measure “is the key to creating a pedestrian- friendly, transit-oriented community with entertainment, shops, and outdoor recreation.” They also say the Midway District is not a coastal area and should not have been included in the Coastal Height Limit Zone established in 1972.

Opponents, including environmental group Save Our Access, say the measure will force “high-rise development into existing beach communities” to the benefit of developers. Save Our Access, which filed both lawsuits challenging the height limit ballot measures, say more parks and open space would be beneficial, rather than high-rise development projects.

–City News Service


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Ellen Bullock