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Port to Start $7.35M Pepper Park Renovation in August

DEVELOPMENT: First Project of Multi-Million-Dollar National City Balanced Plan

NATIONAL CITY – A $7.35 million project by the Port of San Diego to renovate the 1970s-era Pepper Park on the National City bayfront is due to start in August.

The renovation of the 5.2-acre Pepper Park is the first step in a multi-million-dollar plan to upgrade the National City Marina District, called the National City Balanced Plan, that is under review by the California Coastal Commission.

Frank Urtasun
Chairman
San Diego Port Commission

“It’s a beautiful bayfront and we want to get more people exposed to it,” said Frank Urtasun, chairman of the San Diego Port Commission. “National City is a very important (Port District) member city, and the port for 62 years has employed a lot of industries there. We realize that we need to make it more attractive to visitors.”

The tentative overall plan could include a recreational vehicle park, a Bayshore bikeway, hotels, a restaurant, and retail shops.

“These are big-ticket items, but it’s something that the Port of San Diego is committed to,” Urtasun said, adding that a road alignment that is part of the tentative plan would cost about $26 million. He didn’t have an estimate on the total cost of the National City Balanced Plan.

The Pepper Park renovation includes adding a splash pad – the first in any park along San Diego Bay – playgrounds designed around a pirate theme to resemble a ship, a perched beach, a raised terrace overlooking the bay, a play area on a newly created hillside, new picnic tables and benches, a new entry plaza, new lighting and landscaping.

Park as First Project a ‘Nice Touch’

The renovated park will have separate playground equipment designed for children between the ages of two and five and a separate playground for children aged 5-15, replacing a single playground with equipment that was installed in 1988, said Project Manager Noemi Aquino.

“We don’t want the little ones playing on equipment that was designed for older kids,” Aquino said.

The park has no access to the bay, and the perched beach that will be created will replace some riprap with sand, giving the area the feel of being at the beach but isn’t meant for swimmers, Aquino said.

“It will have beach tables and chairs,” she said.

The concrete terrace will be a new addition with three levels of steps that can be used as seating, leading to a promenade.

Walkways around the park will be widened and resurfaced.

Contingent on funding, future plans call for expanding Pepper Park by 2.5 acres.

“We’re actually doing Pepper Park before we’re doing anything else. That’s a nice touch,” Urtasun said. “It just worked out that way.”

“It’s perfect because we’re really trying to get more residents out there to the west side,” Urtasun said. “We know that recreational open space is very needed, especially in urban environments. Let’s get the kids away from the laptops and into the open space.”

De La Fuente Construction is the general for the park renovation, which is scheduled for completion by the end of 2025.

Urtasun said that he’s hoping that the overall National City Balanced Plan clears Coastal Commission by the fourth quarter of this year.

“Even though it’s been years in the making, it’s still young,” Urtasun said.

Port of San Diego
FOUNDED: 1962
CEO: Randa Coniglio (acting)
HEADQUARTERS: Pacific Highway, San Diego
BUSINESS: Special District
REVENUE: $220 million
EMPLOYEES: 573
WEBSITE: portofsandiego.org
CONTACT: 619-686-6200
SOCIAL IMPACT: Stated Port of San Diego’s promise is to “Enrich the relationship people and businesses have with the dynamic waterfront of San Diego Bay, providing prosperity and a more remarkable way of life.”
NOTABLE: The Port of San Diego supports more than 64,000 jobs and has a $9.2 billion regional impact in San Diego County, including $20 million in the cruise industry.

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