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San Diego Port District Defends Ad Campaign

The San Diego Port District is defending a 60 thousand dollar ad campaign that opposes plans to redevelop the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal downtown. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

San Diego Port District Defends Ad Campaign

The San Diego Port District is defending a 60 thousand dollar ad campaign that opposes plans to redevelop the 10 th Avenue Marine Terminal downtown. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

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The proposition hasn’t even qualified for the ballot yet, but the Port District Board has already launched a counter offensive to what is called the “Port District Freight Preservation and Bayfront Development Initiative.” 

The measure, backed by developers,  proposes to “double decker” the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal and build shops, hotels and possibly a sports stadium on top of the docks. 


Lani Lutar of the San Diego Taxpayers' Association says the Port District has spent public money illegally on political advocacy to oppose the measure.

<b> Lutar: </b> While they may not have an official campaign set up, they have clearly started a strategic and deliberate communication effort to try catch the attention of voters, and from our perspective that’s advocacy. <b> </b>
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Irene McCormack of the Port District says the developers who back the initiative have misled the public, saying the initiative would “preserve freight,” whereas the development would threaten cargo operations that support thousands of well paid jobs.  She says the ads explain the economic value of the Marine Terminal.

<b> McCormack : </b> We do not intend to ever cross that line into political advocacy. We believe what we did with these ads was not political advocacy, that it was an educational position that we had to get across to the voters. <b> </b>

However McCormack admits the ads overstate the economic value of cargo operations, claiming the terminal processes 12 million tons, whereas the figure is closer to 4 million tons a year. She adds that number is likely to decline with the weakening economy.

 
Backers of the redevelopment Initiative need nearly 35 thousand valid signatures from voters in the Port’s five member cities: San Diego, National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and Coronado. Signature gatherers have collected over 60 thousand, and the Registrar of Voters will announce later this month if the measure has qualified for the November ballot.

Alison St John, KPBS news.