Monday, May 29, 2023

Port Update is Main Topic at City Council Meeting

Donovan, Tanaka, Bailey, Duncan, Downey

The March 21 Coronado City Council meeting was brief and primarily covered a Port of San Diego update from Commissioner Frank Urtasun, who has been the Coronado representative for 15 months. He commented that he thought “it would be easy street,” but a number of issues affecting Coronado have arisen during his tenure. In good news, he shared that a Master Service Agreement (MSA) for municipal services has been reached for non-tax paying properties, including police, fire, and lifeguard services. He gave kudos to City Manager Tina Friend for helping to secure this eight-year agreement, with a 12 percent increase, that will provide stability of what the city will get from the Port.

Next, he highlighted that the Port has made a change to the Capital Improvement Program and will allocate $10 million, of which Coronado will get $2 million. The city will be able to dictate how the funds will be spent. He said this is due to the Port doing better post-pandemic and a federal government grant. He acknowledged that the landscaping at both the Ferry Landing and Tidelands Park have suffered during the pandemic and will soon return to top notch services. He indicated that a major design, which will include additions and replacements, is in the works for Tidelands Park, and upgrades are also underway at the Ferry Landing.

In an update on the Zuniga Jetty, Urtasun recapped that back in August 2022, a memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by the City of San Diego, the Port, and Coronado. San Diego gave $75,000 and Coronado kicked in $50,000 to help with the removal of derelict and abandoned vessels. The Harbor Police are working to enforce this and to date have towed nine vessels. There are typically two abandoned vessels per month at the Zuniga Jetty and the Port is pursuing additional state funds for this program.

Urtasun acknowledged that the Ferry Landing retail complex “has seen better days.” He said when the lessee reached out previously with an updated concept for the area, the community strongly voiced their disapproval for the architectural components. He recognized the importance of getting community input and buy-in and they advocated for a Hotel Del-type architecture style. When a new concept was presented, people loved it, so it has been submitted to the Port to move forward with the permitting process. The new restaurant pad, adjacent to Il Fornaio, is in negotiation with a sub-tenant for a 75,000 square foot restaurant. He said that after 20 years, he’s hoping that this will now be closer to reality.

Expressing surprise, he noted that the Port of San Diego Board went against the recommendation of the city and voted 4-3 to approve moving forward with the Cottages at the Cays project. This only allows the process to begin and does not guarantee it will happen. The next step is to hire a project management consultant and commission an environmental impact report. The lease on the land expires in 2034 and he estimates the entitlement process will take through 2026. He will continue to monitor and “wants to see a win-win for the community.” Mayor Bailey commended Urtasun for his stellar representation at the Port meeting.

City Manager Tina Friend gave her report mentioning that Fire Chief Mike Blood is re-retiring at the end of the month. She said he knows Coronado in and out, waking up at 3 am to begin problem solving, and commended him for serving in a distinguished, selfless way. Councilmember Donovan joked that Blood is more competent at being a fire chief than retiring. Friend also welcomed the new Fire Chief Jayson Summers, who takes over on April 1.

She also mentioned that they invited four decision makers from the California Department of Housing and Community Development to visit Coronado to get an overview of our city and the space constraints, and help to collaborate on a realistic timeframe and process for finalizing further updates to the city’s housing element. She said that Associate Planner Jesse Brown organized the half-day tour on March 13, and it was a productive meeting.

On the Consent Calendar, the transmission of the 2022 Annual Housing Progress Report to the State Office of Housing and Community Development (HCD) was authorized. This report identifies the number of permits applied for, issued and finalized by affordability and its relationship toward meeting the city’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) numbers as assigned by SANDAG. The report shows residential development is occurring in Coronado with 52 units; however, none of the units were considered affordable units and their creation remains a goal. The report also demonstrates the city has made progress on some of the program goals and objectives identified in the Implementation Plan. However, some of the program goals are long-term and will be addressed as the city progresses through the remainder of the eight-year planning period.

There were several items of interest approved on the Consent Calendar. One of which was an increase for PAWS, which has demonstrated that ACF operations have sustained significant cost increases in medical expenses, rising internal staffing costs to manage an increasing animal volume, animals staying longer before adoption, and the need to maintain market competitiveness for staffing. To address these issues and the lack of an annual escalator adjustment to the agreement since 2019, the annual fixed fee compensation will be increased by $200,000 from the current $330,630 per year to $530,630 per year.

Discover Coronado’s annual report and management recommendation and a resolution to continue to levy two one-half percent (0.5%) assessments on the four major hotels within CTID I and CTID II for FY 2024 were approved. Highlights of the report include: 2022 was a year of marked recovery as pent-up demand for group travel following its long hiatus supported spending that even surpassed 2019 in Coronado, with Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) surpassing projections. In 2022, groups spent $113.5 million in direct visitor spending, generating a total economic impact of $164.1 million in Coronado. This sustained 950 jobs and generated $8.2 million in local tax revenues. Member hotels sold 387,000 room nights in 2022, improving 24% from 2021. The overall occupancy rate recovered to 66.1%, due to a resurgence in group occupancy. Group occupancy more than doubled to 27.5% in 2022. For details, visit the Discover Coronado website at

The next meeting of the City Council will be held on April 4, 2022.


Jennifer Velez
Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]