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RV Park Plan Driven Away By Port Delays

The developer of a proposed RV park next to the National City Marine Terminal notified the Port of San Diego it is no longer interested in pursuing the project.

The project, called Pier 32 Gateway Village & Marina, was first proposed in 2012 as part of National City’s efforts to redevelop its bay front. The enterprise would cover up to 20 acres and include 165 rental spaces and other amenities.

Yet getting approvals from the property’s landlord, the port district, has been thwarted due to conflicting plans by Pasha Automotive Services, which operates a successful car shipping business next to the proposed park. Pasha, a unit of Corte Madera-based Pasha Group, is seeking to build a connecting rail line that would improve the terminal’s efficiency.

The delays resulting from the conflicting proposals appear to be among multiple considerations that prompted GB Capital Holdings, the RV park’s developer, to officially withdraw its plans for review.

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“My understanding is that the GB Capital Holdings proposal was withdrawn for a variety of reasons,” port district spokeswoman Tanya Castaneda said, citing infrastructure requirements, land-use designation, cost recovery and economics as likely contributing factors.

Several calls to GB Capital for comment weren’t returned.

Pasha, which imports and exports more than 300,000 cars annually at the leased 163-acre terminal, has seen its operations grow extensively in recent years, becoming one of the port district’s more lucrative tenants.

National City Mayor Ron Morrison, an advocate for the proposed RV park, said Pasha’s plans for the rail connection were launched as soon as the city approved plans for the park. The company essentially wanted to tie up the property to prevent the project from moving forward, he said.

“Putting that rail line through the middle of the park would kill the whole project,” Morrison said. “They’ve done other studies that show there are better solutions.”

Since the conflict between the city and Pasha surfaced, the port has contracted with an outside consultant, JLL, to investigate the commercial, industrial and recreational uses at the bay-front area. That study is slated to be completed by the end of the summer, according to the port.

Morrison said that despite GB Capital’s official notice of withdrawal as developer on the RV park, the company is still “very much interested in moving ahead with the project.”

John Pasha, senior vice president of Pasha Automotive, said in an email that his company is awaiting the outcome of the consultant’s report before making any decisions.

Tank Farm Project Pending

The car shipping business has been expanding, and “we have added over 100 jobs in the last year or so in National City,” Pasha wrote.

Pasha didn’t respond to follow-up questions on the company’s total staff, but in an interview last year he said the company had 170 employees, which would bring the staff to about 270.

Pasha is in the midst of a 30-year lease with the port signed in 2010. As part of that deal, the company agreed to make $10 million in improvements, including the removal of an old fuel tank farm at the site. That project was supposed to be completed by the end of 2012, but it hasn’t happened.

Documents furnished by the port show the agency extended the deadline for a year, and provided another extension for an indefinite period as long as Pasha continues “diligent efforts to complete construction of the tank farm.”

Complicating these matters is the revelation that port CEO Wayne Darbeau requested a summer job for his son from Pasha in 2012. The son worked there that summer. Subsequently, Darbeau sent an email this year to port tenants seeking another job for his son, according to published reports.

Last week, the port commission met in closed session to discuss a personnel matter with Darbeau. There was no action taken in the matter, said Tony Manolatos, a contracted port spokesman, following the meeting.

Morrison said that while he realizes Pasha has a good business and is generating lots of jobs and revenue for the port, he thinks it’s time the agency looks at National City’s needs.

For a long time, the balance sheet of pros and cons for his city of belonging to the port district has been tilted toward negative impacts over positive, Morrison said.

“It’s really hard to go back to people and explain to them why we are part of the port of San Diego,” he said.

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