Coastal Commission staff rejects Convention Center expansion plan

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SAN DIEGO — California Coastal Commission staff Friday recommended commission members vote against the proposed San Diego Convention Center expansion next month.

San-Diego-Convention-CenterCommission staff said the expansion would result in “significant impacts to views, visual quality and coastal recreation through the substantial loss of already limited waterfront area and open space.”

Construction would also impact the existing accessway and lead to the sense that the shoreline was part of the convention center, they said.

Despite the negative recommendation, Port of San Diego officials said they would remain committed to the expansion, and their project team would continue working with Coastal Commission staff to address their concerns.

“This project is highly deserving of California Coastal Commission approval,” Port Commissioners Chair Ann Moore said.

“The Convention Center Expansion will enhance access to the waterfront and add a signature five-acre rooftop park for visitors to enjoy, while creating thousands of jobs and boosting the regional economy.”

Officials will present the plan and explain its benefits ahead of the Oct. 10 vote at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Interim Mayor Todd Gloria said he also remained hopeful.

“Once the commissioners themselves see the overwhelming benefits of the project, the extraordinary degree of community support and the public benefits to the San Diego Bay, I’m optimistic they will support our request,” Gloria said.

“This project enhances public access and safety, builds a new five-acre rooftop park that will be a destination for residents and visitors alike and will build on the facility’s long history of environmental leadership. We will continue to work to address the issued raised by the Coastal Commission staff.”

Carol Wallace, president and CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corp., said the agency would work to ensure that the concerns were addressed.

“However, I feel strongly that once the commissioners see that our community is united and weigh the positive benefits this project brings to the waterfront, it will be approved,” Wallace said.

The proposed project would add about 740,000 square feet of space to the already 2,613,465-square-foot convention center and 500 rooms to the Hilton Bayfront Hotel. The convention center would encroach into an open space area and bayfront park, and would require Harbor Drive to be realigned, according to commission staff.

Also included are plans for a five-acre rooftop park, but commission staff said it was “unlikely that people would even be aware of the existence of the park, let alone be willing to travel and up and to the top of the SDCC to stroll and recreate.”

The expansion would bring $700 million in annual economic impacts, $13.5 million in tax revenue, about 7,000 permanent jobs and 3,000 construction jobs, he said.


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