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Taller buildings may come to the Midway District

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)- Unlike many of its neighboring communities, San Diego’s Midway District does not have any tall skyscrapers. But the local planning commission is hoping that changes very soon.  For the last 11 years, the Midway Pacific Highway community planning group has had a plan to modernize Midway.  With the city’s lease of the Valley View Casino Center coming up in 2020, the group is hoping to share some big ideas. “What better way to create more housing than in Midway,” Cathy Kenton, Chair of the Midway Pacific Highway Community planning group, said. The advisory group’s goal is to rezone much of the 1,300-acre district, to encourage new, mixed-use construction. A big part of that would be the 11,000 new dwellings, which could increase the residential population from 3,000 to 23,000 in the next 30 years.  Except there is one problem — the city’s 30-foot height limit. In 1970, San Diegans voted on Prop D, which limits all buildings west of I-5 in the area, to 30 feet. The commission believes this outdated law is stifling its potential growth, literally. “40 feet would be terrific, 70 feet would be awesome,” Kenton said. “Anything that would help us get a little more vertical would certainly open up the community, and not make it so dense.” The commission’s current redevelopment renderings do not include any high-rises. “So they’re all very flat and pretty boring looking, to be honest,” Kenton said.  But they are still presenting these plans to the Smart Growth and land use hearing and to city council next week. Kenton says getting that approved is only the first hurdle. She believes the only way that Midway can reach its highest potential is if Prop D is overturned by the voters. That requires a community petition or a city council vote to put the measure on the ballot.  “No one has a crystal ball for whats going to happen,” Kenton said.  Kenton says the likelihood of getting the measure on the June or November ballots is slim, but they will keep trying. Those opposed to it say, constructing tall buildings would obstruct ocean views.  If residents eventually vote to overturn Prop D, the committee says they will go back to the drawing board, to include mostly middle and some low-income high-rise apartments.

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