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SAN DIEGO-The city is taking the first baby steps toward developing the area around Brown Field, following last year’s collapse of plans to create an airport cargo hub.

A subcommittee of the San Diego City Council recently has voted to begin seeking tenants for a couple of lots totaling about 15.4 acres.

If approved by the council, the move would kick off the development of 240 acres of city-owned land surrounding the airfield. The city plans to sign short-term leases until it can finalize a community plan for the area.

Leases will be short at first so that the uses of the land can change as the community plan for the Otay Mesa area takes shape.

An 80-member advisory committee representing residents, industrial developers and environmentalists is developing the 12,000-acre Otay Mesa tract, which represents one of the last large, developable sections of the county.

In 1995, the city council wanted to create an economic engine for the area by expanding the site into a large cargo airport. But the council abandoned the ideas in October of last year, prompting a $120 million claim against the city by the developers.

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