National City Bayfront
The National City Bayfront is made up of 273 acres of waterfront land and 167 acres of water and includes the National City Marine Terminal, Pepper Park, Pier 32 Marina, the Aquatic Center and many pieces of valuable public art. The National City Marina District refers to the approximately 60-acre area in and around Pier 32 Marina, including Pepper Park.
National City Balanced Plan and Projects
The Port of San Diego has been working closely with the City of National City, as well as business and community stakeholders, to rebalance land uses for the National City Bayfront – referred to as the National City Balanced Plan, or Balanced Plan – based on public priorities.
On Wednesday, November 16, 2022, the Board of Port Commissioners approved the Balanced Plan Port Master Plan Amendment (PMPA) and certified the National City Bayfront Projects Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The proposed Balanced Plan, as well as four proposed projects and one programmatic component (located within the City of National City’s jurisdiction) are collectively referred to as the National City Bayfront Projects. See details below.
The PMPA now goes to the California Coastal Commission for consideration. Once the PMPA is certified by Coastal, the Port and City can implement the Balanced Plan.
The Balanced Plan proposes the following:
- Expansion of Pepper Park by 2.5 acres;
- Realignment of Marina Way, which will serve as the buffer area between commercial recreation and maritime uses;
- East-west and north-south public access corridors, with pedestrian, bicycle and visual access; and
- Better configured/more contiguous commercial recreation and maritime uses.
National City Bayfront Projects EIR
The Balanced Plan and the additional project components listed below have been analyzed in one comprehensive Environmental Impact Report, and are collectively referred to as the National City Bayfront Projects Environmental Impact Report (EIR):
- Pasha Road Closures Project: This project proposes the closure of Tidelands Avenue between Bay Marina Drive and West 32nd Street, and West 28th Street between Tidelands Avenue and Quay Avenue. When combined, these road closures total approximately six acres. The project would increase operating efficiencies through the elimination of certain internal fences, drive aisles, and the bifurcation of terminal operations created by these roads.
- Bayshore Bikeway: This project will include the permanent alignment of Segment 5 of the Bayshore Bikeway in National City. The alignment is proposed to be generally located between the former railroad right-of-way and Marina Way on the southern end (west of Paradise Marsh), and along McKinley Avenue on the northern end. The route is located mostly on City property, but also traverses a small area of Port property on the south end.
- GB Capital Project: This project proposes a recreational vehicle (RV) park, modular cabins, and the ultimate development of up to four hotels with up to 465 rooms. The project includes ancillary amenities such as, but not limited to, a clubhouse, pool, activity courts, laundry facilities, and dry boat storage; as well as in-water improvements such as, but not limited to, transient vessel moorings.
- Pasha Connector Rail Project: This project proposes a connector rail track to connect the existing rail and loop track located on the National City Marine Terminal (NCMT) to additional rail car storage spots at the existing Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) National City Yard east of the National Distribution Center. The connector rail track would connect the BNSF National City Yard directly to the existing rail loop and loading tracks on the NCMT and would allow for Pasha to have both rail and rail car storage capacity which would improve efficiencies by allowing Pasha to have easier access to empty rail cars at the BNSF National City Yard.
- City Program: This program proposes rezoning two vacant City-owned blocks to allow for the eventual development of hotel, restaurant, retail, and/or other combination of tourist-visitor-serving commercial uses. This program is located in the City and outside of Port jurisdiction.
PEPPER PARK IMPROVEMENTS
Pepper Park is an approximately 5.2-acre park located on the National City Bayfront adjacent to Pier 32 Marina. Existing park amenities include a boat launch ramp, picnic tables, restrooms, fishing pier, floating boat dock, playground equipment, lawn areas, and the National City Aquatic Center.
On July 11, 2023, the Board of Port Commissioners approved a Coastal Development Permit for improvements to the existing Pepper Park, a significant step toward transforming Pepper Park into a resource that visitors and residents will cherish for years to come on the National City Bayfront. The project will include improvements in the park’s current footprint, including a new “pirate themed” playground; the addition of a splash pad, perched beach, overlook/terrace, and hillside play area; as well as an additional picnic area, a new entry plaza, and new landscaping and hardscaping throughout the park.
The schematic design below depicts the redesigned Pepper Park, including a future planned expansion. The area within the yellow dotted line is the existing park footprint. The area within the orange dotted line is a future 2.5-acre expanded area. The area shaded in blue is where the first phase of improvements will be made beginning in early 2024.
The redesigned park and first phase improvements identified are a result of multiple rounds of public outreach between 2016 and 2022 resulting in a holistic design of the improvements to the existing park and the park expansion, ensuring a cohesive park space after implementation of the park expansion. The Port, parks design team KTUA, and public relations consultant Nuffer, Smith, Tucker led the award-winning community outreach efforts.
A future 2.5-acre park expansion is contingent upon the availability of additional funding, as well as certification of the National City Balanced Land Use Plan (Balanced Plan) Port Master Plan Amendment by the California Coastal Commission. Future improvements include a flex plaza, an expanded waterside promenade, a new parking lot with a minimum of 23 added parking spaces, new picnic areas, and more.
Timeline & Funding
The current anticipated timeline for Pepper Park improvements and expansion is as follows:
- Early 2024 – Begin construction of initial priority park improvements within current park space
- Mid 2025 – Complete initial priority park improvements within current park space
- 2025 to 2029 – Funding and a timeline for future improvements, including park expansion, are to be determined.
The Port has designated $3.85 million in funding received via the American Rescue Plan Act and the State of California’s Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund, plus another $2 million in Balanced Capital Program funds toward redesigning and improving Pepper Park. Additionally, Austal USA, which is operating a new ship repair facility on the National City Bayfront, contributed an additional $250,000, for a total budget of approximately $6.1 million.
If you have have any questions, email NCBayfront@portofsandiego.org. If you haven't already, be sure to sign up on our email list to receive updates on the National City Bayfront, including the Pepper Park redesign and improvements.
Below are conceptual renderings of some of the Phase 1 improvements (details to be refined). Left to right: pirate-themed playground, perched beach, overhead of perched beach, hillside play area.
Community Workshops & Surveys
As a Port of communities, the redesign of Pepper Park is a team effort – the community, stakeholders, and local leaders have and will continue to have a role. The Port and parks design consultant KTUA provided multiple opportunities for the public and stakeholders to provide input on the redesign of Pepper Park and its future 2.5-acre expansion. KTUA is a landscape architecture firm with extensive urban park and waterfront design expertise.
- May 24 - June 8, 2022: Design Survey #2
- May 5, 2022: Community Design Workshop #2 (in person)
- April 9, 2022: Pop-Up Workshop at Port Aquatic Center in Pepper Park
- April 7, 2022: Pop-Up Workshop at Olivewood Gardens
- April 2, 2022: Pop-Up Workshop at Las Palmas Little League
- March 30 – April 13, 2022: Design Survey
- March 23, 2022: Community Design Workshop #1 (virtual)
- May 6, 2021: Community Workshop (virtual)
May 5, 2022 Design Workshop Materials (In Person)
- Workshop Presentation
- Draft Preliminary Design Plan for Pepper Park
- Pepper Park May 2022 Workshop Summary & Open-ended Comments
March 23, 2022 Design Workshop Materials (Virtual)
Port staff and the KTUA design team took detailed notes and recorded the meeting, collected all the comments and questions in the chat box, and are reviewing all the valuable and thoughtful input. Recordings of the meeting as well as the Q&A (questions asked at the meeting and responses) are below. We are also working to post meeting transcripts.
May 6, 2021 Workshop Materials
This workshop was aimed at helping to establish a grand vision for Pepper Park. The design team and participants explored park features and recreation opportunities. The meeting was conducted via Zoom, and was available in Spanish and Tagalog in addition to English, and included an interactive activity to discuss exciting park ideas.
- English Main Session with Breakout 1
- Spanish Main Session and Breakout
- Tagalog Main Session and Breakout
- English Breakout 2
- English Breakout 3
National City Marina District
This approximately 60-acre area in and around Pier 32 Marina is a key asset of the Port of San Diego and is currently designated for three primary purposes:
- Maritime - Most efficient auto-processing cargo terminal on the West Coast.
- Commercial recreation - Pier 32 Marina opened in 2008 with a 250-slip marina and restaurant.
- Public access - Pepper Park has a boat launch, playground, picnic areas and the Aquatic Center.
Balanced Plan Timeline
The Board of Port Commissioners directs staff to move forward with preparing a new conceptual land use designation map that will achieve three objectives: add two to three acres of park space to the Marina District, optimize maritime operations, and maximize commercial redevelopment opportunities.
The National City Marina District Balanced Land Use Plan (Balanced Plan) is presented to the Board. The Board directs staff to proceed with processing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and processing of a Port Master Plan Amendment (PMPA).
The Board directs staff to incorporate the GB Capital Project, Pasha Connector Rail Project, and City Program into the EIR and all but the City Program into the PMPA. (Note: A PMPA is not required for the City program because it is not located within Port jurisdiction.)
The Board authorizes an agreement for the preparation of the EIR to be conducted by consultant ICF Jones & Stokes, with the Port, the city of National City, Pasha, and GB Capital sharing the cost of the preparation.
The Board authorizes an amendment to the EIR agreement to revise the EIR scope of work, at the request of the City, to also include analysis of full closure and narrowing of Bay Marina Drive between Marina Way and Tidelands Avenue.
May 6: Port held a virtual workshop to get community and stakeholder feedback on potential components/features for future Pepper Park expansion.
September 29: Port staff released the National City Bayfront Projects Draft EIR for a 45-day public review and comment period.
March 23: Port hosts virtual community design workshop for public and stakeholders to provide input on three conceptual designs based on input collected during previous outreach efforts.
April 2: Port and KTUA host pop-up Pepper Park design workshop 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Saturday, April 2 at Las Palmas Little League (Las Palmas Park)
April 7: Port and KTUA host pop-up Pepper Park design workshop 4 – 6 p.m., Thursday, April 7 at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center
April 9: Port and KTUA host pop-up Pepper Park design workshop 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Saturday, April 9 at the Aquatic Center in Pepper Park
May 5: Port and KTUA to host Pepper Park Community Design Workshop #2
November 16: Board certifies the National City Bayfront Projects Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and approves the National City Balanced Plan Port Master Plan Amendment (PMPA).