San Diegans rightly expect all levels of local government to be focused on creating and maintaining jobs, especially in this period of economic uncertainty. That is why we are united behind protecting thousands of San Diego jobs that may be in peril.
Local manufacturer and major San Diego employer Solar Turbines is one of California’s largest exporters. A worldwide company, Solar Turbines has called San Diego home for more than 80 years. It employs more than 3,500 people at its Kearny Mesa and downtown facilities. These jobs and the positive economic impact they produce are critical to our local economy.
That is why we are concerned about a proposal to build 232 residential units directly across the street from Solar Turbines' 24-hours-a-day downtown manufacturing facility. We believe that allowing residences within 100 feet of Solar Turbines’ property will create insurmountable conflicts between residential and industrial uses that could ultimately result in Solar Turbines having to relocate its operations — and the jobs that come with it.
The developer has vowed to require its tenants to sign an agreement not to challenge permit renewals essential to Solar Turbines’ operations, but common sense tells us it's only a matter of time before complaints are reported, potentially forcing regulatory agencies to limit Solar’s ability to operate. This would be a major disservice to one of our largest private employers and has the potential to hurt the economic health of our region.
The Centre City Development Corporation, downtown’s redevelopment arm, is scheduled to vote on the residential project in January. The downtown community plan’s housing policy allows a higher standard of review for residential development adjacent to industrial land. At a time when redevelopment areas are experiencing increased scrutiny, it is important that CCDC moves cautiously and considers all impacts of this proposal, particularly related to jobs.
We have consistently supported redevelopment to revitalize downtown and provide new opportunities for prosperity. In this case, and in this economy, jobs take priority. Much has been made by project proponents that they have a right to build apartments near Solar Turbines. They are free to believe that one development trumps the livelihoods of thousands of San Diegans. We disagree, and believe that the local economy and common sense should prevail.
We strongly encourage alternative uses that do not include residential development for the property adjacent to Solar Turbines. Guarding jobs and responsibly planning for our future is in the best interest of all San Diegans.
Cox is a county supervisor, Faulconer is City Council president pro tem, and Peters is port chairman.