The Port of San Diego swore in its 2016 Board of Port Commissioners Executive Officers at a State of the Port event last week at the USS Midway Museum. Commissioner Marshall Merrifield was sworn in as chairman, along with Commissioner Robert “Dukie” Valderrama as vice chairman, and Commissioner Rafael Castellanos as secretary. The ceremony also honored outgoing Chairman Dan Malcolm, who will continue to serve on the board.
During his inauguration speech, incoming Chairman Merrifield outlined his vision and announced his theme for the year ahead, “Port of San Diego: Building a Prosperous and Sustainable Future.”
“This is not only a theme, but a priority and a promise,” Merrifield said in his inauguration speech. “Strategically important economic ventures will boost jobs and growth for our region. Great real estate projects already underway will continue to move forward, with several developments and policies crossing the finish line this year. Integrated planning principles will guide our work on these projects and we’ll begin new initiatives.”
Merrifield continued: “Equally important to these projects that will generate tremendous economic impact is the work we are doing to ensure a generous infusion of sustainability in every facet of Port life – sustaining strong relations with our member cities and port tenants, sustaining our environment and natural resources, and sustaining a safe and fun waterfront for all to enjoy.”
He noted that the coming year will bring the opening of a new hotel on Lane Field North and progress on many initiatives, including: modernization of the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal; balanced land-use planning for the National City Marina District; resurgence of the Port’s cruise business line; completion of the National City Aquatics Center; groundbreaking for a hotel project on Lane Field South; and a decision on a path for development of the 57 acres of land and water of the East Harbor Island basin, the decades-long location of rental car properties and Harbor Police offices. Other important priorities for the year ahead include seeking development proposals for San Diego’s Central Embarcadero, and continuing efforts to finalize a resort convention hotel development deal for an anchor site on the Chula Vista Bayfront.
While many projects will “cross the finish line” in 2016, Merrifield spoke of potential new initiatives that will form his key priorities for the year including: Pursuing grant funding from the California Energy Commission to electrify forklifts, drayage vehicles, and cranes at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal; Working closely with the California Air Resources Board to pursue sustainable freight initiatives for both cargo terminals; Leveraging the Port’s role as a co-license holder for the World Trade Center San Diego to enhance trade opportunities for small and medium sized businesses; Providing a permanent venue for the San Diego Symphony at Embarcadero Marina Park South; Resuming the Port’s role as a regional leader in public art and restoring funding for public art; Reviving efforts to raise money for the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge Artistic Lighting project; and Establishing an incubator located on Port land that will stimulate Blue Tech startups.
Merrifield also announced the formation of an Ad Hoc Committee of the Board for Energy Management and Climate Action, to be chaired by Commissioner Bob Nelson; and an Ad Hoc Committee of the Board for Fisheries, to be chaired by Commissioner Dan Malcolm.
Outgoing Chairman Dan Malcolm delivered the first ever State of the Port address where he discussed Port initiatives and accomplishments achieved during his year-long chairmanship.
“My theme for this last year of 2015 was Port of San Diego – Regional Economic Engine, and it has indeed been a year of monumental economic impact for the Port and for the San Diego region,” Malcolm said during his outgoing comments. “There are currently more than 100 active projects going on along the waterfront at a total value of more than $640 million dollars. The bottom line is that the State of the Port of San Diego is extremely strong – and getting stronger every day!”
Highlights of Malcolm’s year as chairman included hiring Randa Coniglio as CEO; opening the Lane Field Setback Park; celebrating the Port’s newest and largest restaurant and event center, Coasterra on Harbor Island; selecting The Brigantine, Inc. for an iconic waterfront restaurant location on San Diego’s North Embarcadero; accepting a $10 million award from the U.S. Department of Transportation for modernizing the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal; finalizing a plan for the South County site known as Pond 20 that marries wetlands conservation with economic development; seeking competitive development proposals for the former rental car lots on Harbor Island, and deciding to move forward on a similar solicitation process for the Central Embarcadero; and completing the North Harbor Drive Realignment Project.
Malcolm said that he successfully established the concept of budgeting for a “structural surplus” to support the Port’s goals and for reinvestment into the San Diego region. Merrifield said that he is committed to continuing budgetary surpluses.
The executive officers of the board serve a one-year term.