California Coastal Commission Posts Public Hearing on NAVWAR Project

| October 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

The California Coastal Commission is holding a public hearing on the NAVWAR project that will be held virtually at 9 a.m., Friday, October 15. For details on the procedures of this hearing, visit the Coastal Commission’s webpage at If you would like to receive a paper copy of the Coastal Commission’s Virtual Hearing procedures, please call 415-904-5202.

We are encouraged to submit written comments to the Energy, Ocean Resources, and Federal Consistency Division of the California Coastal Commission via email at no later than 5 p.m., Friday October 8, 2021.

In case you’re not aware of the NAVWAR project, we encourage you to visit, which has enlisted the support of over 4,000 San Diegans. 

Following are comments from Craig Huitema, a resident of Mission Hills, who eloquently

shared his thoughts on what the Navy is proposing and its obvious flaws.

“The City of San Diego and the Navy are planning an enormous redevelopment project of the current NAVWAR site near Old Town.  Since much of NAVWAR’s mission is oriented around cyber security, it makes sense to consider this subject in the context of the current recommendation and available alternatives. 

There are five alternative approaches that are under consideration, with the current recommendation being Alternative 4, in which private developers pay for construction of NAVWAR facilities in exchange for the opportunity to build residential, office, retail and hotel developments.  There is a transit center as well. My opinion is that this recommendation will adversely impact San Diego, and decision makers need to instead move forward with Alternative 1, in which the Navy simply pays to rebuild NAVWAR facilities.

Let’s elaborate on Alternative 4.  This recommendation will rebuild NAVWAR facilities and collocate them with:

  • 10,000 residential units
  • 2,058,750 square feet of commercial space
  • Two hotels with 450 total rooms
  • 433,750 square feet of retail space
  • 109 buildings: two low-rise, 19 low to mid-rise, 51 mid-rise, 35 high-rise, 2 standalone parking structures
  • Tallest buildings up to 350 feet, which is approximately 32 floors
  • On-site transit facility

In cyber security, two key objectives are generalizable to many endeavors, and certainly to this project:

  • Reduce the attack surface
  • Mitigate risk

Given the mission, activities, intellectual property and resources at NAVWAR, it seems it would represent a high value target to adversaries – both in the physical world, as well as the cyber world.  Collocating such a facility with a high-density population of civilians distributed across a mix of residential, retail and transportation centers seems diametrically opposed to the objectives above. 

Regardless of how strong the technology is, people are frequently the reason bad actors wield successful attacks.  Breaches, ransomware, and all the other things we see in the news on an all-too frequent basis often result from exploitation of the primary vulnerability in any organization – its people.  Making hotels, high density housing and a transportation center co-tenants with NAVWAR would make it far easier to exploit people and technology.

There are a multitude of stories in popular publications, academic/scientific journals, hacker forums, etc. documenting how physical proximity is a necessary prerequisite to certain types of cyber-attacks.  There are multiple products available to the public that facilitate this activity.  One can only imagine the tools sophisticated state actors would use.

The point is, no matter how good the people and technology of NAVWAR are, there are vulnerabilities.  Those vulnerabilities can and will be exploited.  Collocating NAVWAR with tenants that include hotels, high density housing/retail and a transportation center seems like a cyber defender’s nightmare.  Doing so would expand the bad guy’s toolkit of tactics, techniques and procedures, and would both:

  • Expand the attack surface
  • Increase risk

The people that are trying to prevent, defend against and respond to those 8 million attacks per day have a tough job.  Given the information I have seen on this project, I believe that Alternatives 2 – 5 will make that job tougher.  This is one of many reasons I support Alternative 1 – the only Alternative in which NAVWAR is the only tenant on NAVWAR property.”

I thank Craig for his well-constructed comments about the realities of Alternatives 2-5. And, as stated by members of Save San Diego’s Character, “Now is the time to speak out in opposition of Alternatives 2-5 and support Alternative 1 prior to the Friday, October 8 deadline of The California Coastal Commission. Otherwise, the project will be considered a ‘consent’ item on the agenda which will be approved without comment.”

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