John Duncan

Question:

The Bayside area of Coronado, from Orange Avenue to A Avenue faces the potential for significant change, from development proposals for the Coronado Ferry Landing, to HG Fenton ownership (and potential development) of the Smart & Final lot. What do you see as desirable for that area of Coronado and how would you as a City Council member have the City be engaged in that process?

Answer:

I appreciate the opportunity to respond to this question to clarify the facts and legal authority in regard to land the City does not own.  

There is often confusion, particularly on social media, when it comes to the power of City Council in regard to commercial property in Coronado. Simply put, privately owned commercial property use in Coronado is not decided on a specific case-by-case basis. Rather, the City’s power comes from its zoning ordinances that apply to the location or area of town where the business is located. As long as a landowner/business complies with Coronado zoning and other ordinances, Coronado has little other legal authority to control the business or mandate use. A fairly common misunderstanding is that the City is involved or has approval over private sales of commercial properties, such as when buildings in the Orange Avenue corridor were sold. The City has no say in those types of property transfers whatsoever and is not a party to those transactions.  

That said, when it comes to important areas of significant new development, there are ways that the City, led by proactive leaders on City Council, can work to ensure important areas are developed in a fashion that Coronado citizens desire. This includes the potential redevelopment of the Smart and Final lot. In particular, by reaching out to the owners of the property to discuss the owner’s wishes for development, keeping in mind the City’s needs, we may come to a solution that works for all. For instance, Coronado does have the power to change the zoning in an area if it is deemed desirable to the city. In regard to the Smart and Final lot, it may make sense to approach the owner about a zoning change from Commercial to Mixed Use zoning. Mixed Use zoning would allow housing as well as commercial development and potentially could be a win-win for the owner and the City. Such new housing would count towards satisfying the final SANDAG housing allocation, which we hope will become much more reasonable after the lawsuit is resolved.

Similarly, in regard to most of the Ferry Landing area, Coronado has very little legal power with regard to development because the area is under Port of San Diego control.  However, Coronado has a representative to the Port and it is in both Coronado’s and the Port’s interest to reach a positive and cooperative solution on redevelopment. Sound negotiation will be key as our City moves forward in this area.

Most citizens in Coronado, as do I, want to ensure the least amount of visual blight and impact while ensuring easy pedestrian access with no adverse impacts, and possibly improvements, on traffic flow and safety. 

Outside the box thinking and leadership, as well as negotiation and persistence, can achieve the best use and lowest impact solutions when dealing with third parties. My 25 years of legal experience, most of it in real estate and business litigation where I crafted solutions to complex issues, make me uniquely qualified to work as a Councilmember on redevelopment issues.

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