Sunday, March 29, 2015


The day we moved into our new home, as I was hastily trying to get organized, I looked out my window at the San Diego Bay and noticed, for the first time, an ocean-going vessel pass by. Since then I have seen hundreds them. They come intermittently at a slow speed, so there is always plenty of time to view them. Besides the large cargo ships, there are kayaks, paddleboards, sailboats, yachts, fishing boats, ferries, party and sightseeing boats—the parade never ends.

The naval ships pass by on their way to and from Naval Base San Diego, also called the 32nd Street Naval Station, which is the largest US Navy base on the West Coast. It is most impressive, on those infrequent occasions, when the ship is returning from many months of being on assignment. The naval personnel are lined up on the deck, the front is adorned with a large wreath, and they are lead by a tugboat with a fountain of water flowing from it. Band music can be heard from the dock, and I can only imagine the happy families that are waiting for them there.
Since I am fond of watching the ships float in and out of the bay, I read with interest the news that the Port of San Diego may become even busier. It is currently proposing to modernize the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, located off Harbor Drive and Cesar Chavez Parkway. If this gets approved, it will lead to San Diego becoming a leading West Coast specialty port—comprised of the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal (TAMT) and the National City Marine Terminal (NCMT). San Diego is desirable because it offers a natural, protected harbor that is uncongested as well as a year-round mild climate.
The Economic Impact of the San Diego Unified Port District 2/25/15” was recently prepared by the Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. This annual study indicates that the Port of San Diego contributes more than $7.6 billion a year into the region from employment, sales and purchase of goods and services. This makes it the second-largest employer in San Diego County, after the state of California. It is the primary port of entry for Honda, Acura, Isuzu, Volkswagen, Nissan, Mitsubishi Fuso, and Hino Motors into America. It also holds a twenty-year lease with Dole Food Company, bringing in much of the country's bananas.
The Port of San Diego controls more than 60 percent of the Bay shoreline, or 33 of the 54 total miles—the Navy controls 17 miles. It oversees two marine cargo terminals, two cruise ship terminals, the Harbor Police Department, and leases of almost 600 tenants and subtenants along San Diego Bay. In addition, it oversees 20 public parks, including the newest waterfront park, Lane Field, that opened on March 16. Located on the corner of West Broadway and North Harbor Drive, it was once the site of Lane Field where the original Pacific Coast League Padres played from 1936-1957. It is named after Bill Lane, who was the owner of the Pacific Coast League Padres in 1936.
A helpful tool that makes observing the vessels more interesting is It provides the location of all the ships in the area along with the name, type of ship, a photo, current location, itinerary, home port and other details.
The San Diego Bay appears reasonably clean and odorless, however, it is far from perfect. A federal list that identifies unhealthy waters, called the 303(d) list, includes San Diego Bay for 20 separate pollutants—including copper, mercury, PAHs, PCBs, zinc, and chlordane—along with general toxicity in the bottom of the the bay. Sources of the pollutants are urban runoff and copper-based paints on boats. There are signs posted at all piers along the bay warning anglers that fish may contain chemicals believed to cause cancer and birth defects.
The proposal to expand the terminal and increase the traffic is now waiting the results of a Notice of Preparation for a Draft Environmental Impact Report issued by the Port of San Diego. The public and other interested parties now have an opportunity to comment on possible environmental impacts of the project. Comments will be accepted until 5pm on Tuesday, April 14, 2015.

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