Fact Sheet

Regulatory Program - La Media Road Improvement Project, San Diego, CA

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District
Published April 20, 2023

The project is located in the Otay Mesa neighborhood of the city of San Diego, California, immediately south
of Otay Mesa Freeway and along La Media Road, north of the international boundary with Mexico.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District, Regulatory Division (Corps) is processing a permit request from the city of San Diego (City) to widen an existing roadway to relieve traffic congestion and to improve stormwater flow through the project vicinity along a port of entry route between the U.S. and Mexico. Specifically, the proposed project would widen the existing roadway to a six-lane primary arterial roadway from State Route (SR)- 905 to Airway Road and a five-lane roadway between Airway Road and Siempre Viva Road with three southbound lanes and two northbound lanes north of the port of entry location.
The City’s original application was submitted on 21MAY21. During review of the application, the Corps identified that the proposed project site included aquatic resources that may not be within the Corps’ jurisdiction under the regulatory regime in place at that time (the Navigable Waters Protection Rule) and conferred with the City. As a result, the City submitted a request for an approved jurisdictional determination (AJD) in AUG21 to inform the need for a Corps permit. However, on 30AUG21, in the case of Pascua Yaqui Tribe v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona issued an order vacating and remanding the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. In light of this order, the Assistant Secretary of the Army, in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, halted implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule nationwide and the agencies are interpreting “waters of the United States” consistent with the pre-2015 regulatory regime until further notice. Rather than having the Corps prepare an AJD pursuant to the pre-2015 regulatory regime, the City rescinded its request for an AJD and re-applied for a Department of the Army permit on 20OCT21, with the presumption that aquatic resources on the proposed project site would be considered “waters of the United States.”  Regulatory issued the public notice on 19JAN22.

Regulatory is currently reviewing the proposed permit application pending additional information from the City. On 14MAR22, Regulatory requested additional information necessary to continue processing the application. The City committed to providing the information by 14APR22.

The current permit application is missing several critical pieces of information needed to make a permit decision, including information required for consultations pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, a 404 (b)(1) alternatives analysis, and revisions to the on-site and off-site compensatory mitigations plans, information needed to continue processing the application. The City committed to providing the information by 14APR22. Section 106 process has been held up by the pending request for missing analysis. Regulatory previously responded to a Tasker received from the City Mayor and Representative Juan Vargas on 20JAN22 urging support for the prompt permitting of the project. Besides congressional and the City support for the project’s timely completion, local interest includes Otay and East Otay Mesa Property Owners Associations. The project was included in the City’s Capital Improvement Program and the City is concerned any delay in moving forward with the improvements needed by that key truck route could hamper their plans to complete the improvements in time for the opening if the next port of entry called Otay II. Regulatory informed the City that a revised cultural report, revised mitigation plans, and an alternatives analysis are required to complete the permit review process.

Points of Contact: Kyle Dahl, Chief, San Diego & Imperial Counties Section, South Coast Branch, Regulatory

Congressional Interest: Senators Padilla and Butler, Representative Jacob (CA-51)

Congressional Liaison