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Growth, community questions continue in Otay Mesa

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Otay Mesa, the industrial hub of South San Diego, is entering the last quarter of 2007 with significant accomplishments, as well as significant questions given the ongoing public debate around its Community Plan Update. The growth and new industrial investments have continued to outpace historic trends -- something likely to continue with the completion of major infrastructure projects, like the impending opening of state Route 125 (the Southbay Expressway).

According to both Colliers International and Burnham Real Estate, data from the first half of 2007 show over 1 million square feet of industrial space under construction in Otay Mesa. As industrial rates continue to climb in other areas of the county, and available industrial lands continue to diminish throughout the region, Otay Mesa's leasing rates have remained 10 percent to 15 percent below other markets, leading to a boom in business.

Such positive news is tempered by ongoing questions about Otay Mesa's future, as the city continues its update of the existing Community Plan. With some developers still promoting plans that would reduce Otay Mesa's industrial acreage to less than half of what currently remains, a new rezoning scenario is under development that could provide a viable solution to the need to protect increasingly scarce industrial lands. If this new scenario reflects the thoughtful comments by the city's own Planning Commission, it could be a win-win scenario for the future of Otay Mesa.

While uncertainty remains about just what planning scenarios will be forwarded to City Council, proposals have been drafted by the city that would potentially limit trucking in Otay Mesa (should residential rezoning proposals move forward). Such proposals have been a catalyst to unite a diverse group of industry, logistics and even crossborder economic development interests -- from the Working Waterfront, to the California Trucking Association, to the Tijuana Economic Development Council. These groups understand the potentially negative implications that trucking limits would have on both Otay Mesa's economic vitality, as well as the operations of our binational commercial land port, which could affect hundreds of businesses on both sides of our border.

Keeping opportunities open for regional employment and infrastructure will continue to be a key issue in the coming months, as several major projects move forward in Otay Mesa. These include the Community Plan Update, the Regional Airport Authority's market study on a potential crossborder terminal with Tijuana and Brown Field's development -- each of which has major implications for the Otay Mesa community, and its role in regional trade, industry and transportation.

Mier y Teran is executive director of the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce.

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