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Planning Process

Involving the Public in the Planning Process

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The announcement of impending closure of NTC in 1993 triggered an aggressive public planning process. A 27-member NTC Reuse Committee was formed by then-Mayor Susan Golding to provide policy direction to the City Council/Redevelopment Agency and create a forum for public input. The Reuse Committee established six subcommittees to address economic development, environmental issues, park and recreation opportunities, homeless assistance, education, and interim use of the base. Interested citizens were welcome to participate on the subcommittees.

The Reuse Committee met monthly for more than two years, and each subcommittee held public meetings during that time. Several all-day design workshops were also held to educate citizens about the base closure process and to hear reuse ideas. A local consulting team, led by Rick Engineering, was hired early in the process to assess the existing conditions and facilitate the development of the reuse plan.

On April 27, 1994, the Reuse Planning Committee, after numerous public meetings, adopted the following vision for NTC:

Create a center that celebrates San Diego's maritime history and opens public access to a waterway linking San Diego and Mission Bays. This community will anchor revitalization of the North Bay region. It will also support education, training, and research and development programs that attract new industries to San Diego and strengthen the region's performance in international trade from Mexico to the Pacific Rim.

The City's then-Progress Guide and General Plan divided the City into phased development areas designated "urbanized," "planned urbanizing," and "future urbanizing." Because the City had no land-use regulatory authority over military bases, all bases were designated "future urbanizing." The purpose of this designation was to preclude premature development and to ensure provision of adequate public facilities before urbanization.

In March 1996, the public voted to redesignate NTC as "urbanized," and the planning of the base took a gigantic step forward.

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Planning for Future Land Use

Though the City of San Diego was designated by the federal government as the official Local Redevelopment Authority for NTC, not all land use decisions were in the City's hands. The first commitment of reuse property was made early in the process when the Navy approved federal requests for property from the U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. These requests removed from the reuse planning process a 4-acre firing range and a 25-acre least tern nesting site at NTC.

In 1995, the Reuse Committee solicited proposals from qualified users to receive property from the federal government through a public benefit conveyance. The conveyance permits a few federal departments to sponsor qualified users to receive surplus federal property for very specific public purposes. Twenty-two proposals were received. After meeting with the reuse consultants regarding the cost of rehabilitating buildings and upgrading infrastructure, most proposals were withdrawn. The Unified Port of San Diego, then-operator of the adjacent San Diego International Airport, sought a portion of NTC for airport expansion. The City expressed an interest in receiving any land designated for parks through this process also.

After two years of public discussion, a plan for NTC evolved. According to the NTC Reuse Plan, the redevelopment of NTC is intended to "create a place surrounded by green, bordered by water and centered on history. It is to be a place where San Diegans can come together in an active, productive and stimulating environment. To live at NTC will mean living as part of a traditional neighborhood; working at NTC will mean working among a diversified group of educational, service, retail and visitor-commercial businesses; and visiting NTC will mean experiencing parks, retail shops, museums and an urban waterfront."

In November 1996, the City Council approved the draft Reuse Plan. The Navy and City jointly prepared the Environmental Impact Statement (for NEPA) and Environmental Impact Report (for CEQA), which were certified by the City Council in October 1998. The final NTC Reuse Plan was adopted by the City Council at the same meeting. The Navy approved the NTC Reuse Plan in March 1999.

In October 2000, the City Council approved the NTC Precise Plan and Local Coastal Program (PDF: 25.85Mb) that identifies general policies and development standards for land use at NTC. The entire NTC site is within the coastal zone, and the NTC Precise Plan and Local Coastal Program was approved by the California Coastal Commission in June 2001.

Image of General Development Plan for NTC Park
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Planning for the 46-acre park and 3-acre eastside waterfront esplanade area at NTC took place through the City's Park & Recreation Department. The Park & Recreation Department, with input from a citizens committee, prepared a general development plan (GDP) that identified park improvements. The GDP for NTC Park was approved by the City Council in May 2003. The GDP was also approved by the California Coastal Commission in February 2004.

The park planning process involved: public input; a site inventory; site, user, and maintenance system analyses; design synthesis; area relationship studies of different alternatives; detailing of a single concept; and preparation and processing of a GDP.

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