Governor Signs Bill to Protect Navy Jobs, Streamline Construction of New Central Mobility Hub in San Diego
Bill by Gloria, Atkins Sets-Up Potential Redevelopment of NAVWAR Site in Midway District
SAN DIEGO, CA – A bill by California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria and Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) that would set-up the potential redevelopment of the NAVWAR site in San Diego’s Midway District has been signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. Assembly Bill 2731 (AB 2731) would allow the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) to streamline the environmental review process in order to build a transit hub and accompanying development on the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) Old Town campus site, should the Navy elect to partner with SANDAG on this important project.
“This bill represents a unique opportunity to protect the existing 5,000 Navy jobs from relocation, create a 21st century transportation system in San Diego, and provide desperately needed economic stimulus to our local economy in the wake of COVID-19,” said Assemblymember Gloria. “This project has the potential to generate at least 16,000 jobs and provide housing for up to 27,000 residents – both of which we know are desperately needed. I want to thank Governor Newsom for allowing our region to take advantage of this potential partnership.”
In late 2018, the Navy signaled its intent to redevelop NAVWAR Old Town campus citing the lack of adaptability, sustainability, or compatibility with evolving mission requirements. The facilities are essentially old aircraft hangars from the 1950s and 1960s repurposed to house cybersecurity professionals. On September 19, 2019, SANDAG and the Navy signed an initial agreement to explore options for redevelopment of the campus, and a formalized revitalization agreement in January 2020.
AB 2731 allows SANDAG to streamline certain processes required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to construct a transit terminal as well a direct connection to the San Diego International Airport. These streamlining provisions, modeled after the AB 900 Environmental Leadership Program, allow SANDAG to utilize the Navy’s environmental document as the basis of its CEQA document and require most legal actions on these projects to be resolved within 270 days. In exchange, AB 2731 would require a transit hub to meet high environmental benchmarks such as obtaining LEED Gold certification, reducing vehicle miles traveled by 25%, and that the project be greenhouse gas neutral.
“From construction of redeveloped NAVWAR facilities to building and operating a mobility hub to better connect San Diegans and visitors with a direct transit connection to the San Diego International Airport, these are critical projects for our communities and will have a positive fiscal impact on our region for years to come,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins.
“I would like to thank Assemblymember Todd Gloria and Senate President Pro Tempore Atkins for their work on this critical piece of legislation,” said Hasan Ikhrata, Executive Director of SANDAG. “AB 2731 provides an ambitious framework of environmental standards and regulatory streamlining that will help make the Central Mobility Hub and the NAVWAR redevelopment a reality. This project represents one of the most important partnerships with the US Navy and one of the biggest investments ever in San Diego’s regional economy.”
“The revitalization of the Navy’s Old Town Campus in the City of San Diego to provide Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) with state of the art, mission critical facilities to meet the Navy’s cyber warfare and artificial intelligence needs is a high priority for the Navy,” said Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar, Commander of Navy Region Southwest. “As the Navy works to complete the federal National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) review process for the project, I appreciate the significant efforts of our state partners in advancing this important legislation, whose ultimate aim is to support the Navy’s mission in the San Diego area and in California as a whole.”
The Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) is responsible for providing the critical networks, sensors, and systems to connect the air, surface, subsurface, space, and cyberspace operations that are vital to the Navy and to national security. NAVWAR’s massive network, currently the largest in the world, supports over 700,000 users in 2,500 locations while blocking 8 million attempted intrusions daily. With the onset of COVID-19 and more personnel working remotely, the need for the Navy to have a secure and robust network to carry out its mission is greater than ever.
AB 2731 takes effect January 1, 2021. In the meantime, the Navy is expected to complete its environmental review process by early 2021. Concurrently, SANDAG will continue to conduct preliminary project development efforts. After which, SANDAG will continue to collaborate with the Navy, other stakeholders, and the broader community in San Diego, utilizing the provisions of AB 2731 to ensure that the project advances regional mobility goals, including providing a direct transit connection to the airport.