The Three Ecosystems of San Diego’s Working Waterfront

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DUR-BobNelson-photo_tailleOKThe urban working waterfront may be viewed as industrial, social, and biologic ecosystems that interact with each other. Ecosystems are communities of living things together with the nonliving things in their environment.
San Diego is the USA’s southernmost west coast port. Its industrial waterfront is home to major shipbuilding and repair, annually handles eight percent of U.S. automobile imports, about 500,000 tons of fresh fruit, bulk and project cargo, and cruise ships. This activity generates 23,000 waterfront jobs and in the local economy. San Diego Bay is also home to 52 U.S. warships and the largest concentration of military personnel in the world. The Port, the City of San Diego, General Dynamics/NASSCO, BAE, and others are completing the largest toxic sediment removal in the history of San Diego bay, removing 100,000 cubic yards threatening the bay’s food chain. Meanwhile, heavy ship work is expanding with two new pier-side berths complete and an additional drydock in progress. To protect nearby neighborhoods, the Port enforces access to Port terminals only by modern, less-polluting diesel trucks, and has added electric shore power to reduce diesel emissions. Amidst these successes, the Port‘s challenges are mostly social. City plans for an adjacent neighborhood has resulted in a tense divide between industrial employers and local residents over land use and parking. Unresolved differences among the Port’s governing board have stifled growth of the Port’s auto import business.

Bob Nelson was sworn in to represent the City of San Diego in January 2011. His 40 years of government and political service includes participation as President Clinton’s representative on the U.S. Competitiveness Policy Council, and serving as chair of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation, the San Diego LGBT Community Center, and City of San Diego Revenue Review and Economic Competitiveness Commission. He has also served on the City of San Diego Public Utilities Advisory Commission and in various advisory capacities to the Mayor of San Diego and the San Diego County District Attorney. He also serves on the Board of Directors of CleanTECH San Diego and Middle Class Taxpayers Association. Prior to public service, Nelson built one of America’s largest independent public relations agencies, now part of Porter-Novelli Group. His clients have included American Water, Anheuser-Busch Companies, the Association of American Railroads, California Teachers Association, The Irvine Company, San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

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