Is the United States Navy to be our first line of defense, or our unfairly self-serving competitor against private enterprise?
The Navy announces plans to spend likely $200 million to develop a “complex of hotels and high-rise offices” on its most prime San Diego waterfront land. The Navy wants to make itself money on former city land that it got cheap many years ago, while unfairly undercutting private hotel and office owners.
The Navy implies that it will give a “face lift” to our waterfront. In reality, our Navy will tear down an ugly, inappropriate warehouse/office and replace its prolonged misuse with a new 350-foot high wall of a self-serving, profit-oriented economic venture against private enterprise. This is not a “face lift;” it is an affront to hard-working citizens of San Diego who want their military to protect them, not dominate and unfairly compete against them.
Our Navy says that redevelopment of the waterfront “won’t cost the taxpayers anything;” this is untrue: first, the Navy asks and the city expects to “help fund the development.” We citizens pay taxes into our city coffers not to be dissipated to purchase and maintain the Navy’s entry into private enterprise.
Second, taxpayers pay salaries of Navy personnel who step out of bounds to then become developers and managers competing in the private sector.
Third, the Navy will hold “it’s” prime land forever off the tax rolls of San Diego, thus increasing the tax burden of citizens owning peripheral real estate projects to carry the Navy.
The Navy has held and benefitted from this prime waterfront land since the 1920s. Military tactics and civilian needs have now drastically changed in three subsequent wars and intervening years. Yet our Navy grows, as a property-hungry entrepreneur, unwilling to give up anything, as it increasingly takes more of citizens’ lands and constitutional rights. Where will this end, if not stopped now? Will the military next use its excess land at Pendleton and Miramar for development of whole new residential, commercial and industrial profit-making projects, in direct unfair, tax-free competition with private enterprise?
A proper precedent was recently established where excess-of-need, military-owned lands were released by the federal government for beneficial use by local government or private enterprise. San Francisco would never tolerate the Army developing its own real estate venture-bonanza on Presidio lands. Are we as San Diego citizens so unconfident and so incompetent as to now watch our Navy become our prime real estate tycoon?
In the past 50 years, I have been both an architect in San Diego and a military planning engineer, serving in the last three wars with both active and reserve. Properly, our military is created and maintained by citizens to effectively and admirably defend our country. From my service, both in and out of military, I know that the Navy cannot and should not become the prime “hotel and high-rise office” landlord of our San Diego.