In the News
February 3, 2016
By Dave Schwab
Peninsula Community Planning Board played to a packed house at its Jan. 21 meeting as upward of 30 residents turned out in a show of support for a mom 'n' pop venue versus a corporate shop.
Planners also were updated on the status of another controversial issue, the so-called NextGen Metroplex plan, proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration. That proposal could allow deviations from the LOWMA Waypoint navigational marker that for some 20 years has minimized plane flights over the Peninsula.
The lease for the former Point Loma Fresh & Easy, in the small shopping center at 955 Catalina Blvd., was sold recently to CVS Pharmacy through a bankruptcy court in Delaware. There is an existing small business, Point Loma Cabrillo Drug, in the same shopping center. Outraged neighbors, who want a grocery store there, not a pharmacy, immediately started an online petition drive on change.org.
Residents at the meeting weren't disappointed, as the city advisory group unanimously endorsed drafting a letter supporting their cause.
Planning board member Mike Ryan, spokesperson for citizens concerned about the Fresh & Easy sale, gave a brief presentation detailing the history of the retail space, which for many years has been one type of grocery store or another.
“I have a copy of a petition with almost 3,000 signatures of local residents against this purchase,” Ryan said following his brief presentation. He argued that the existing lease “mandates a grocery store on the site.”
“We need to take this seriously,” Ryan concluded.
Community planners cut to the chase and quickly asked for a group vote endorsing a grocery store rather than a drugstore on the site. The group's unanimous approval of that motion drew applause from the room.
Fresh & Easy, a Southern California convenience grocery store chain, recently closed its eight locations in San Diego County, including its Catalina Boulevard site. The company noted an “organized wind-down" after a failed reorganization as the reason for the closures.
The Delaware bankruptcy court has delayed until mid-February its decision on whether or not zoning on the Catalina Boulevard locale would allow its use as a pharmacy rather than a grocery store.
FAA flight plans
Meanwhile, planning board member Paul Webb, in his report on the status of the FAA's NextGen proposal, noted that Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Congressman Scott Peters, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf are on board with opposition to the controversial proposed airport tracking changes.
A recent meeting with the FAA on its NextGen Metroplex plan drew about 1,000 opponents to a special meeting held in Liberty Station.
Webb pointed out the Peninsula has become “sensitized” to the issue, with some alleging there has been a recent marked increase in overflights of the Peninsula.
“In August, we had 18 noise complaints from Point Loma,” Webb said. “In December, there were 1,578 complaints — more than the previous 10 years combined.”
The NextGen project is intended to improve the efficiency of airspace in Southern California by optimizing aircraft arrival and departure procedures at more than 20 regional airports, including San Diego’s. The project may involve changes in aircraft flight paths and altitudes in certain areas. The FAA, however, claims it would not increase aircraft operations within Southern California airspace.
The draft environmental assessment for the SoCal Metroplex project, released in June, has since closed. Many Peninsulans have said they want the FAA to consider retaining the LOWMA waypoint latitude-longitude navigational guide. They've argued that deviating from that waypoint will bring more flights, more noise and more pollution over more areas of Point Loma that were previously unaffected.
In other action:
• In her chair's report, Julia Quinn noted construction has begun on the controversial Naval pipeline project. The Navy's plan is to relocate a section of its 17.3-mile fuel pipeline between Naval Base Point Loma and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar from the coastline to Rosecrans Street. Residents are concerned the project will cause even worse traffic tie-ups in the already congested peninsula, which has limited access.