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Otay transportation infrastructure to face challenges, competition

The city of San Diego Planning Commission reviewed transportation options for the Otay Mesa Community Plan Update Thursday, stirring up debate on whether the community should be planned around the needs of residents or border-crossing cargo trucks.

Experts analyzed the alternatives for the updated plan in terms of roads, goods movement and traffic.

Linda Marabian, traffic engineer for the city, discussed some of the challenges in developing road infrastructure in Otay: unstable soil in some parts, canyons, heavy traffic to and from Chula Vista, as well as the county's dependence on the network.

"We want to propose a network we are confident will happen in the future," he said.

Marabian stressed the need for balance between connectivity of roads and community.

"We don't want to create a situation where we are so focused on connectivity from a transportation perspective that we end up putting major streets through a village," she said.

City of San Diego planner Theresa Millette briefly overviewed possibilities for roadway, transit and walkability options for the Mesa, important aspects to an area expecting a growth in residents.

Millette also discussed the possible growth of Brown Field and the creation of a cross-border airplane terminal, although the existence of the terminal is not accounted for in the drafts.

"We can be in agreement about the possibility of a cross-border terminal, but we don't know ... how much property it would need," she said.

Curtis Spencer, president IMS Worldwide in Houston, presented a study his company did on the industrial future of Otay.

The report showed a stagnancy in the current industrial climate, and that the need for industrial land in Otay would be 1,130 acres for the next 20 years.

"It's going to be more than adequate," he said.

Alejandra Mier y Teran, executive director of the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce and proponent of the mesa's industrial climate, said that the city has not listened to the chamber's input on the community plan, adding that Otay Mesa land was inadequate for any use besides industrial.

"This is industrial land, it is not commercial," she said. "This is a downgrade in terms of property for property owners."

"To restrict trucks to this region means we are going to restrict trade," said Steve Zisser, chairman of the chamber. "To say a truck can't go down that street, it's going to be very difficult to enforce."

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