Opinion: Business will boom with second San Diego Bay opening

Downtown San Diego Bridge Waterfront Bayfront
An aerial view of downtown San Diego Bay at Imperial Beach. Photo courtesy of Port of San Diego

If the long-talked-about second San Diego Bay opening finally occurs, our region will likely experience an unprecedented economic boom and a renaissance of opportunity.

This will create thousands of new jobs, as well as a myriad of new businesses and blue technology innovations. And although our whole region will be the beneficiary, the Baie du Sud will be ground zero.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is on everyone’s mind, and a second opening is above all a national security imperative. But there are also important environmental and economic reasons for pursuing this idea.

The economic reasons were not mentioned as much, but they are important. There are six key opportunities.

Construction project for the opening of the second bay

The construction project itself will require thousands of workers, from the highest paid engineers and architects to heavy machinery operators, truckers, boat captains, divers, as well as crucial physical day laborers.

This is a major labor-intensive project that will take five to 10 years to complete. The project will include the dredging of a large mid-bay channel at Emory Cove in the South Bay; cutting through the Silver Strand landmass; construction of breakwaters; the construction of a state-of-the-art wave energy plant; the construction of a tunnel that will redirect State Route 75 under the new opening; and redirecting the entrance to the Navy’s Silver Strand training complex.

Construction and operation of the South Bay Wave Energy Generating Station

The creation of an innovative wave energy plant within the new breakwater is a golden opportunity to create green energy for our region and to become a California and global model to do so.

This project is modeled after the Mutriku Wave Power Plant which is already working in northern Spain, but ours could have a much larger production. The development, initial construction, and ongoing operation and maintenance of this plant will require a significant number of well-paying jobs that will naturally occur in the South Bay.

South Bay ‘Blue Tech’ Innovation Hub

With an adjacent new opening to the sea, cheaper commercial and industrial rents in the area compared to downtown San Diego and Point Loma, and a large adjacent labor pool with affordable housing, the South Bay is the ideal place to concentrate the maritime activities of the San Diego area. based on the “blue economy. “

The San Diego Maritime Industry Report 2012 analyzed the maritime and blue tech industries and identified more than 1,400 companies with over $14 billion in sales, including a workforce of 46,000 people. The economic and employment opportunities in this sector are vast.

To date, the Port of San Diego has approved nine projects through its blue economy incubator, including shellfish nursery operations, copper remediation technology, drive-in boat washing, application smart marina, a marine debris removal vessel, algae aquaculture, bio-enhancement shoreline shielding technology and a new approach to marine soil remediation. With an opening on the sea, South Bay is a natural place for many of them.

Additionally, a second bay opening would help seed the planned “academic and innovation district” for Chula Vista.

Consider a centerpiece of this district being a new South Bay Oceanographic Research Center with quick access to the bay and ocean. Such a center would be ideal for conducting 5-, 10-, and 30-year research studies on the effects of the opening of our second bay, as well as the development of wave energy for California and the world.

Discoveries about wave energy production, as well as bay flushing and cleaning, siltation levels, and overall environmental health could provide invaluable research for riparian regions around the world.

Tijuana’s business potential

With a new bay opening so close, many maquiladora manufacturing plants in Tijuana will begin to see San Diego as a better option for shipping their products globally. Alternatives are trucking to Ensenada or Long Beach.

Additionally, there will be a golden opportunity to establish regular daily ferries to and from South Bay to Playas de Tijuana, Rosarito Beach and Ensenada. This will attract tourists, but will also help relieve pressure on the ultra-busy San Ysidro border crossing.

Many other bi-national opportunities are sure to arise as well.

Opportunities for water activities in South Bay

With a new opening and access to the sea, the South Bay will experience a significant increase in nautical activity.

This will present an array of opportunities such as new marinas, ferries and water taxis, adjacent boat maintenance businesses, boater supply stores, possibly a South Bay gas station, paddle and kayak shops, bike shops, fishing supplies, bait shops, deep sea fishing charters, etc. Likewise, the demand for hotel rooms and restaurants will increase.

All of this represents increased employment and business opportunities for Chula Vista and the region.

Fresh Seafood for the South Bay

Why must South Bay residents have to travel all the way to Point Loma for seafood fresh off the boat?

With the opening of a second bay, it is possible to establish a Fisherman’s Wharf in Chula Vista or Imperial Beach to unload and sell fresh seafood. We could have an open South Bay fresh seafood market and our own Chula Vista Seafood modeled after Point Loma Seafood.

This again represents additional employment and business opportunities, as well as widespread consumer benefits for the citizens of South Bay.

However, with all of that said, we must weigh all new business and employment opportunities against the Navy’s national security mission here, as well as against our regional priority to protect environmentally sensitive areas in South Bay.

With careful planning and thoughtful decisions, we can develop something truly special that meets all of our priorities.

The combination of Coronado’s Silver Strand State Beach and the National Wildlife Refuge already provides significant open space and a head start in preserving South Bay’s natural beauty and environment. This wondrous region is home to thousands of migrating birds, sea turtles, fish, seagrass and even a single flamingo known as Pink Floyd.

In conclusion, a second opening of the San Diego Bay is likely to launch a major business and employment boom for our entire region. If we want to allow our children and grandchildren to thrive and be able to afford to stay local, we must develop economic opportunities for them to do so. Otherwise, many will be forced to move elsewhere based on better opportunities, as well as affordability.

Opening a second bay is the greatest engine of economic opportunity we can pass on to our children and grandchildren. Likewise, it is one of the most important national security infrastructure projects to protect the Pacific Fleet against the growing hypersonic missile threats emanating from Russia, China and North Korea.

This opportunity must be seized as soon as possible.

George Mullen is the spearhead of the Cities of life super-branding proposal for San Diego and Tijuana and is one of the directors of StudioRevolution in downtown San Diego. Rudy Ramirez is a candidate for mayor of Chula Vista and a former member of the city council.

Michael J. Chiaramonte