That idea to allow six-story buildings near a new trolley station in Clairemont? Don’t worry about it.

San Diego planners have backed off a plan to raise the 30-foot limit on building height next to the future site of a trolley station at Clairemont Drive, just east of I-5, amid vocal opposition from residents.

In a memo Wednesday, Planning Director Bill Fulton told Mayor Kevin Faulconer and two City Council members his department would alter its plans for the area around the planned station, which is part of a $1.7 billion project to extend the trolley from Old Town to La Jolla.

The planning department won’t try to increase the limit on building height in that area, the memo said, will reconsider increasing density there and won’t reduce parking between Napier and Littlefield streets.


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Residents lined up to oppose a city study meant to make the western portions of Clairemont and Linda Vista more compatible with public transit. By allowing more homes and businesses to be built near the stations, the trolley would be more useful and attract more riders. The study was in its early phases and wouldn’t have been subject to a final vote until late 2015 or early 2016.

But local opposition culminated last week when the city presented its study to the Clairemont Community Planning Group and 75 to 100 residents showed up to speak against it.

The area’s elected representatives also got in on the opposition.

Councilman Ed Harris, the interim representative for the area, attended the meeting and joined the chorus that said raising building heights and adding density to the area wasn’t necessary. Then he scheduled a follow-up community meeting for next week.

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, whose current district doesn’t include the study area but who is running for re-election in the district that does, had two representatives at the meeting, but neither spoke.

This week she wrote a memo to Fulton asking the planning department not to entertain any changes to height limits or parking in the area.

Sarah Boot, Zapf’s opponent, also opposed the plan at last week’s meeting.

Here’s Fulton’s memo announcing the department would step away from the contentious issues. It was first reported by Clairemont Central, a local blog.

 

FultonMemo

    This article relates to: Community Plans, Growth and Housing, Height Limit, Neighborhood Growth, News, Public Transportation, Share

    Written by Andrew Keatts

    I'm Andrew Keatts, a reporter for Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at andrew.keatts@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0529.

    51 comments
    Elyse Lowe
    Elyse Lowe subscribermember

    I am a Bay Park resident, I support the trolley and I support expanding the  growth opportunities around it. I bought a house in the area last year, and I want to have more opportunities that I can walk to with my family in my neighborhood. I think the trolley will be transformative in many positive ways. I want better restaurants, and places to shop in our community without having to drive to them. The growth plans would enable more small businesses to prosper, and that is important to me. I will be at the meeting this week to stand up and say that I support the City's plans to grow around the trolley. I have alot of friends who don;t have cars who would love to to live/work/play in the area. The trolley would really help that so I hope our City leaders can take a stand to help provide more opportunities for the generations of people who will want to live here, and not just the consider the view impacts of a small percentage of existing residents. 

    andy_keatts
    andy_keatts

    @j_p_a_ something buggy going on. 28 comments. But the last one has... 128!

    j_p_a_
    j_p_a_

    @andy_keatts Cools. Maybe my comp - lots of convo regardless of site counter. Thx for writing - sad to see SD continue to double down on LA.

    Matty Azure
    Matty Azure subscriber

    True story: A few years ago, a northbound freight train stopped on the tracks near the intersection of Morena Blvd and Ingulf St. The engineer kept the locomotive idling (and I assume put 'on' the parking break).  He and another male hopped out, ran across the Morena and went into the greasy burger joint. They came out with bags of food and drink, ran back across Morena, hopped into the engine, and drove north. They don't care about no trolley stop or height limit - they just want a drive-thru window!

    Signed,

    BNSF Engineer

    td3
    td3 subscriber

    Smart growth means transit station zones should allow higher density.

    Interestingly the condo development at the west end of Clairemont Drive is already 4 stories high (garage + 3 living levels) and takes up an entire block.  So the area is already on track for high density.

    Don't forget that in the long run Cal Trans will be putting in a bigger interchange at I-5 and Tecolote, so anything located low on the hill will have their view blocked by the interchange.

    Take a look at the higher density growth around transit stations outside of Washington DC - mostly very well planned smart growth,  such as http://www.terrain.org/unsprawl/27/

    rhodaqu
    rhodaqu subscriber

    I am pleased to see a letter like this but it is clear that Lorie Zapf is now pretending to no longer support higher density, less parking, and higher height limits because the ballots are coming out next week.
      
    The truth is that Lorie does support higher density, less parking, and increased height limits but she is back-paddling on all that now.  I heard her argue passionately for that at the PB Town Council just last  week (April 16th), saying that we have to increase the height limit "in some areas".

     And those areas are along the new future trolley line along Morena Blvd up to Clairemont Drive.  She argued "why are we doing all this transit if we are just going to all continue to have 2 cars and require 2 spaces for everything?"   A week later, she flip-flops because of the public outrage that hit her.  Lorie now says she opposes the height increase but you can't have the kind of increased density that she advocates without raising the height limits.

    So if you want to preserve the 30' height limit along Morena Blvd, I strongly recommend that you vote for SARAH BOOT for district 2 ... and  NOT for Lorie Zapf.   Lorie has proved herself to be a classic flip-flopper on this issue.

    Sarah Boot has CONSISTENTLY and VEHEMENTLY opposed the height limit increase as well as any parking requirement reduction in District 2.   Sarah Boot believes in preservation of our communities. 

    Apart from this, Sarah Boot is also highly qualified.  She is an attorney who fights drug traffickers and child sex traffickers.  Excellent qualifications to sit on City Council.

    This Morena Blvd height issue will be in the hands of City Council members in 2015 or 2016 so if you don't want to see Morena Blvd turn into a Miami Beach with high-rise condos lining it then:

    VOTE for SARAH BOOT on June 3rd 


    spoonman
    spoonman subscriber

    @rhodaqu A 30 ft increase will turn Morena Bvld into Miami Beach??? You can't be serious.


    60 ft is basically a 5 story building, and that would be the max. In addition, this is only a small area, and not all sites would be developed to their full potential anyhow.

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    @rhodaqu  Sounds like a smart politician to me when someone responds to concerns by constituents.

    rcardulla@aol.com
    rcardulla@aol.com subscriber

    Lorie Zapf should resign as smart growth chairperson.  If San Diegans spent knew as much about their city government officials as they do about the NFL players, them lightweight people like Zapf would be working at a fast food shop rather than on city council.  Fulton's collapse could be expected since he too is more concerned about his job.  He is all hat and no cattle.  He should have resigned rather than caved.

    By the way, how is it that 75 to 100 people at a meeting make a majority of the residence.  We need a law that makes regional values and needs trump local.    

    J G
    J G subscriber

    @rcardulla@aol.com  And that's what makes Zapf's stance on keeping the height limit at 30'  is even more unbelievable.    How can she be the Chair for Smart Growth when she isn't even doing her job?  I, too, think she should step down from her position.

    Matt
    Matt subscribermember

    San Diego needs to find a way to get away from the NIMBYs and find the YIMBYs.  Obama had race to the top, maybe SD needs something similar.  Communities can pledge to support a Neighborhood Revitalization without challenge, only input: mixed use zoning, cycle tracks, traffic calming, parklets, waiver of parking restrictions and other impeding regulations, and other benefits.  The neighborhoods that sign up can then expect investment from the City to make these changes and to get it done quickly.  And it would be the whole package, not little bits here and there that don't add up to any actual change.  Watch Hillcrest protest once they see North Park get all the money.  Mission Valley is so bad that I would hope residents would find any change to be better than what is there now.  Once the money flows to North Park/Mission Valley, etc. and the affluent urban-oriented millennials start moving in, I think you'll see other neighborhoods clamoring to get in on the action.  And maybe the only place that pledges to support the changes is a crappy neighborhood, but so be it.  Once the changes are made, everyone that wants these changes can move there.

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    @Matt  I agree.  It is better to build high density housing, and rail stops in places where people actually want that.  

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember

    Don't mess with Clairemont. 

    Put your density where it is not a dirty word.

    J G
    J G subscriber

    @Mark Giffin  Unkempt yards, brown lawns, boats in the driveway, blue tarps, garages filled with anything but cars, motorhomes.........Clairemont and mess sure do go together in this case.

    drjen2014@gmail.com
    drjen2014@gmail.com subscriber

    Thank heaven there is a City Council race right now for the district along Mission Bay that would have been blighted without the public outcry. Yes, we will have more population and yes, we need density BUT not when it impacts the environment of the beach area so much. Tacks that all ready exist are going to be part of the Trolley Line expansion which makes sense. Building new Trolley Lines Eastward into the populated areas makes sense. Many Beach Cities have preserved their shore line and are doing fine. We do NOT want to be Los Angeles! That is why we live in San Diego.

    Glenn Younger
    Glenn Younger subscribermember

    If the neighborhood wants no increase in density why have a stop at Morena Blvd. at all?  No stop would make for a faster ride to the higher denisity area at UCSD.   


    Mass transit pencils out with higher density.  If we maintain suburban density then the trolley is just another expensive government service.  Urban services can come closer to paying for themselves when you have urban density.  

    William Schneider
    William Schneider subscriber

    @Glenn Younger  I think that's the best idea, so far. Build the Trolley line, ask the community if they want a stop, or not. If they say they don't want one, then don't build one. We could potentially have an express line from UCSD to Old Town. Everyone in the middle can figure it out in the future when they realize their business and community growth has stagnated, but then make them foot the bill for the stops that they initially didn't want.

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    @William Schneider @Glenn Younger  The community didn't say that they didn't want a stop.  They just didn't want higher density development.  Sounds like you are simply saying that they should only get the stop if they agree to all of your other demands.

    William Schneider
    William Schneider subscriber

    @shawn fox @William Schneider @Glenn Younger  What would be the purpose of a stop there if the community does not support higher density? Would it be so that the residents of Clairemont can get to Padres games a few times a year without parking downtown? I know that from my own experience, if I have to get in a car to get to a transit station, I might as well just drive to my final destination. I can't imagine anyone in Clairemont driving to the Trolley stop, parking, then take the Trolley to UTC, when driving would take just as long. I CAN imagine people that live close to a Trolley station walking and taking the Trolley to do that, though.

    Erik Bruvold
    Erik Bruvold subscribermember

    @shawn fox @William Schneider @Glenn Younger  YES!  That is precisely right.  No density, no stop.  It is a THREE BILLION project.  That would buy a ton of buses, BRTS, double tracking, tunnels under UTC, etc. etc. etc.  It makes NO sense to provide transit service to claremont under the current land use....but in San Diego gosh forbid that we actually try to do smarter growth.

    Cindy Conger
    Cindy Conger subscriber

    @Erik Bruvold @shawn fox @William Schneider @Glenn Younger 'Smart Growth' is Abused by Builders here, and elsewhere. On Common Ground ASKS the communities what they want, BEFORE putting in Density. See NAR.  Besides, the only thing that will really 'fund transit'  is a Real Airport...not this 'jammed in, mickey-mouse look-alike' at Lindbergh. It can never 'serve' San Diego's needs, nor will the rest of Southern CA's airports as they will all be 'at capacity' in less time than it takes to build a real airport.  Get ready for more expensive...everything, and any stable revenues from Cargo aircraft, being sent to Rodriguez Airport. There is No  Long Term Planning in this City, whatsoever.

    The new 'SG & Land Use Committee' that is INVISIBLE on the city of San Diego's website, is a JOKE.  There, it's 'OK' for a 'representative'  of Linda Vista to IGNORE that her constituency -ALL of Linda Vista, the Rec Council, the Planning Board, etc.-Want to keep 'Skateworld' at its present place...yet she 'accepts'  some 'report from Her staff' (heading the committee), that 'says that the community Did Not Want to 'give input' on the issue?'!!!  It was viewed on City TV!  This is the kind of 'bogus representation' she gives?  After calling the heads of many of the groups, they "hadn't even been notified" or "questioned" about having 'community input.'  You know where your 'supposed representative' stands when they do something as 'anti-community' as that.  District 2 will rue the day if Zapf doesn't get it through her head that every Action and Every Plan that she hears about Must be Presented to the People and that She Must Listen to the People and follow their bidding, not that of the Developers, the downtown crowd or 'special interests.'

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember

    @Glenn Younger  

    But we want it all. 

    My guess is they build it. complete with a stop and save the density debate (height limit) for the future. Communities evolve and perhaps the culture of Clairemont/bay park changes over time
    "the trolley is just another expensive government service." Sure is. These things never pay for themselves

    J G
    J G subscriber

    @Glenn Younger  Actually, this might not be a bad idea.  Bypass Clairemont altogether and make it complete loop from UTC back to Nobel Drive.  Everyone can just watch Clairemont deteriorate further from a window seat on the Trolley.

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    @William Schneider @shawn fox @Glenn Younger  Bill, then your imagination is not very good.  Parking is worse downtown, and plenty of people drive to trolley stops to go downtown.  However, that is irrelevant.  The community is not unanimously against the plan to raise the height limit.  We have no idea what the percentages are.  Your idea is to punish everyone in the community who also were forced to support the taxes used to build the stop in the first place!  I'm just glad that you aren't the decision maker because your ideas are preposterous!

    ZachW
    ZachW subscriber

    San Diego is not really a city.

    It's a cowtown.

    It's amazing - a metro area of over three million people on the west coast, on the busiest land border in the world, and yet has the politics of a back woods swamp village in rural Mississippi.

    The city needs to grow a pair.

    Seriously.

    News flash for our "naive" politicians: any major development brings out complainers. It's the city's responsibility to research all sides and come to an intelligent conclusion as to what's in the best interest of the city's long-term planning and infrastructure needs.

    It's NOT the city's job to wet themselves when a lady afraid of losing her views yells at them and wags her finger in their stunned faces in a council meeting and then decide to change their plans to accommodate the squeaky wheel.

    We aren't a real city, are we!?

    bgetzel
    bgetzel subscriber

    @ZachW  Bravo Zach! The "City of Villages" died a few years ago in the same way. Now, where are we going to put our growth? How do we lessen urban sprawl and the horrendous traffic it brings? How do we make our urban retail economically viable? Six stories is too dense - what a joke!

    spoonman
    spoonman subscriber

    @bgetzel @ZachW  I agree.  I don't know what scares people about building heights. It's the design they should be worried about. In fact it's usually shorter buildings in the 0-6 story range that are squatty stucco boxes that block out most of a city block. If people would allow high rises, they could have a sleek tower instead, that wouldn't obstruct as much view. Plus they would tend to be more desirable and "higher end", which is how these people view their neighborhoods.

    ZachW
    ZachW subscriber

    @shawn fox @ZachWDid you read my post? 


    "It's the city's responsibility to research all sides and come to an intelligent conclusion as to what's in the best interest of the city's long-term planning and infrastructure needs."


    How does that mean anyone who doesn't agree with MY vision of a city ......


    It's about what experts in urban planning think.  If we let everyone concerned with only their own personal view dictate everything, the city won't function.


    Is fox a reference to your primary media outlet?  If so, it does explain the confusion.

    spoonman
    spoonman subscriber

    I vote republican and I agree with his assertion that the people arguing for 30ft heighht limit amount to backwoods folk that should not be living in a large metro area.

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    @ZachW  What a pathetic comment.  So anyone who doesn't agree with YOUR idea of what a city should be is a backwoods swamp villager?  Thanks for reminding me why I don't vote democrat or progressive.  Your kind only believes in bullying and totalitarian ways.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @shawn fox Irony is when someone supports density limits and minimum parking requirements and then claims that the opposition is totalitarian.

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann @shawn fox  Derek, I never indicated what I support one way or the other.  I'm actually not opposed to changing density limits at all.  I never said that I wasn't.  I'm not exactly a stakeholder in that area since I don't live there.  By the way, you clearly have no idea what irony means.  These processes are already democratic.  There is nothing totalitarian about allowing members of a community to be democratically involved with planning.    There is however something totalitarian about a very small number of people dictating to everyone else what the plan will be.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @shawn fox "Democratic" would be putting the issue to a public vote. Unfortunately, the totalitarian opponents of density wouldn't allow that to happen.

    J G
    J G subscriber

    So what is the point of expanding the trolley system if nothing new is ever going to built along the lines?   Am I to understand that Morena Blvd. will remain a blighted commercial district once the extension is completed?  Obviously, Councilmember Zapf is more concerned about being re-elected instead of SD's quality of life in the future.   And if Bill Fulton is going to support her decision, then what is the point of having a City Planning Director?  Very Disappointing.

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    @J G  Nobody ever said that nothing new will be built.  Just nothing above the existing height limit.  There are already thousands of people who could use the extended trolley if they want to.  

    Cindy Conger
    Cindy Conger subscriber

    @J G There is plenty of 'density' with 3 stories and a 30' height limit. There is far too much profit in building residential right now with that-look at the Morena area improvements already. I just wonder how 'long'  all these 'propoents' of high density have 'lived' in San Diego?

    J G
    J G subscriber

    @shawn fox @J G  Are you sure about that?  I'm sure when proposals from new developments are released,  Clairemont residents will complain about traffic, being too out of scale and not a good "Fit" for the neighborhood.  Book it.

    J G
    J G subscriber


    @Cindy Conger @J G What new developments in the Morena area are you talking about? That area has been ignored for decades and it shows.  So here's an opportunity to infuse life and money in a blighted area and nearby residents oppose it.  Wow.   How the Morena District can be only 5 miles away from Downtown San Diego, and still remain an ignored wasteland for so long is beyond me.  

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    @J G @Cindy Conger  So you think that by allowing more density that businesses will flock to this "blighted" area in order to build stuff?  Interesting.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    Clairemont was expected to share the tax revenue with the rest of San Diego, so it was easy for them to oppose something that would be an overall benefit to the city.

    You have to expect progress to be stunted when you insulate people from the consequences of their choices.

    spoonman
    spoonman subscriber

    Come on Fletcher and Fulton,  stand up against these selfish NIMBY's.

    xtdave
    xtdave

    @andy_keatts once again the City decides against making the tough decision in favor of pretending it can always stay 1972.

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