A pair of local ballot measures supported by the Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association will remain on San Diego's June 3 city ballot thanks to an April 4 court decision.
Measures B and C are an effort by the "Protect Our Jobs Coalition", in which the shipyards are significant members, to overturn a recently approved community plan update for the mixed-use Barrio Logan neighborhood. More than half the 1000-acre plan area is part of the Port of San Diego or the Naval Station. The plan's goals include health and safety protections for residential areas, new housing development, and an effort to insulate residential and industrial uses from each other. The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote, "the shipyards feared the plan might interfere with their suppliers and possibly lead to loss of contracts and a decline in their contracts ? even after five key blocks were set aside as a buffer between industry and housing."
The Environmental Health Coalition, which supports the community plan update, petitioned to disqualify the shipyards' measures from the June ballot, alleging the signature campaign to qualify Measures B and C for the ballot had used misleading statements to gather signatures. The disputed statements contended the Barrio Logan Community Plan would interfere with San Diego's working waterfront, harming local maritime jobs and allowing residential development to encroach on industrial land.
In a written ruling, Judge Randa Trapp found most of the disputed statements were matters of opinion and therefore permissible. But she did find one claim had been outright misleading: that the initiative would save 46,000 jobs and $14 billion in annual revenue. She found those figures in fact referred to the economic activity of "the entire maritime industry" in the area, not just of the shipyards. Her decision said the specific figures were taken out of the signature gatherers' materials midway through the campaign but "the signatures prior to the change were still counted."
Despite this finding, Trapp ruled that "the balance of equities favors having the matter go to a vote."
Although the shipyards' Protect Our Jobs Coalition campaigned to put Measures B and C on the ballot, they will now be campaigning for a "No" vote on each measure. The measures ask, respectively, whether the City Council's resolution and its ordinances updating the plan shall be approved. Accordingly a "No" vote sides with the shipyards and a "Yes" vote sides with the plan update. That leaves the Environmental Health Coalition campaigning for a "Yes" vote on the very measures it tried to take off the ballot.
The ship repair association has been represented in the matter by Bradley W. Hertz and Jim Sutton of the Sutton Law Firm, a prominent campaign law firm.
U-T coverage with texts of the court decision, parties' statements: http://bit.ly/1sxtraS
Barrio Logan Planning page: http://www.sandiego.gov/planning/community/cpu/barriologan/
Measures B and C and plan text: http://www.sandiego.gov/city-clerk/elections/city/140603.shtml
CP&DR Publisher Bill Fulton is Director of Planning for the City of San Diego. He did not participate in the drafting of this article.