In front of 130 riled Bay Park and Linda Vista residents last week, James LaMattery issued a warning.
As the city prepares to allow more new homes to be built near a new trolley stop at Tecolote Drive – part of a $2 billion extension of the trolley from Old Town to UTC – it’s returning to a fight it lost nearly three years ago.
City planners then tried to allow more density and raise the 30-foot building height limit in Bay Park, at a planned trolley stop on Clairemont Drive. Residents flipped, politicians scrambled to appease them and the city conceded.
Now, the city has turned its attention one stop south, and LaMattery and area residents say they’re ready to renew the fight.
“They thought we’d be so busy in Bay Park, we wouldn’t have the back of Linda Vista,” LaMattery said last week, at a meeting organizing their plans of opposition. “They were wrong. They were wrong.”
This time around, the city isn’t alone.
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Urban planning in San Diego is like nowhere else. In other cities the politicians work with the communities and develop community plans with density and height limits based on the community's needs. Here, developing and adopting a community plan is just the start of the process. Immediately, developers begin going to city hall asking for variances to the height limits and zoning in the adopted community plans. The city "developer services' department sends a community plan variance package to the politicians to approve, or simply approve the variance as a staff ministerial action. When the public gets wind of what's going on, all hell breaks loose. At that point, instead of simply enforcing the existing community plan, the politicians direct the planners to begin yet another community plan update process, in order to give the developers everything they want. When the public finds out, all hell breaks loose. So it goes.
I strongly support the concept of Transit Oriented Development but it has to be done carefully and with keeping the community character in mind. Along Morena Blvd., 90-foot buildings are excessive. It's my understanding that Clairemont - or perhaps just the western side of Clairemont, has a 40' height limit, which I consider reasonable. The 30' coastal height limit applies only west of I-5.
In the stretch between Balboa south to Tecolote & Knoxville Streets, 4-6 blocks uphill, the single family homes that predominate have no view to be lost if a 40' building goes up on Morena Blvd. though some might if they remodeled their own homes to 40'. The street front along Morena Blvd. and W. Morena Blvd. are all commercial so views aren't an issue - esp. since their views are I-5 and the railroad tracks.
Take a look at Google Earth, look at the elevations going uphill. Be sure to put the cursor over a street to get an accurate reading.
I've no doubt that many residents fear that enabling new, dense housing development would be the camel's nose in the tent but I believe that there can be reasonable compromises - and no 60'-90' high rises - if those involved will step back from their absolute positions on the issues.
@Judith Swink Start at the ballot box!
One of the questions raised on the Bay Park corner of nextdoor.com is this; do communities have the right to maintain and direct the future of their own neighborhoods? Should other regions of San Diego be able to vote to impose density where they don't live?
Look, when La Jolla residents start seeing threats of density looming in THEIR future... hah. No trolley stops or 90 ft. developments will go in on THEIR waterfront to block THEIR views!
Those in office have arrived in order based on commitment to Developers, The mayor is dedicated to Packing San Diego with development till there is No Room to breathe in support of those who put him in office, We Can NOT vote in anyone who is against this plan, BUT We Can Put a ZERO GROWTH Measure on the ballot = Capping Height and Density at levels in effect in 2010............. This could be for 20 Years to see what happens to the San Diego area that just about ran out of water Without all the additional housing. We Do Not have the reserve capacity to sustain the population of San Diego County at the present level. City Wide we Can put a Stop to the Madness that is being dumped "One Micro Community" at a time with no end untill All of San Diego has been wiped out and replaced as a means of Profit to developers. Let's Get this "Zero Growth" on a Ballot City Wide and Put and End to it ASAP !!!!!
@Dennis St.Onge What's horrible is, there's talk of Charger-kisser Faulconer running for governor of California.
And useless "where in the world is Lori Zapf" councilcritter; talk of her running for Mayor of San Diego.
I can't think of a worse way to continue the degradation of our wonderful state. People, please don't vote for tools of developers and other industries. We need some representatives who will represent us, the people of San Diego, not the Manchesters of the world.
Heck, eat the rich. They're good with carrots and gravy.
@barb graham @Dennis St.Onge I have it on the QT that Madame Zapf is not running for Mayor. I am running against her and feel your pain. Honestly and truthfully, Mme. Zapf will be reelected unless I pull off a miracle. She has 100's of thousands of dollars in outside the District contributions. I probably don't stand a chance in hell of winning yet I will persist till the end. I grew up in Western Hills Bay Ho! 50 years in this community.
@Dennis St.Onge It's been tried multiple times without success. Developers fund multi-million dollar campaigns to convince voters that all hell will break loose if they approve a growth limits initiative. The sleepy voters buy their PR hook, line and sinker and vote down managed growth
Reasoning behind community re-design and to travel less and get people out of cars, for some 30 years, assumes the alternative will somehow perform its function for society as efficiently while fuel and CO2 are reduced primarily by less driving. Hardly obvious for a mass transit alternative that is slower, and less flexible in routing, and has a major access deficiency. To reduce the latter, is the motivation which includes living nearer trolley stations to justify spending nearly $40 billion for an extensive mass transit overlay.
But suppose superior efficient autos are already becoming available for fuel and CO2 reduction? And on-call organizations provide them for all travelers, especially non-drivers, and mass transit access deficiency is eliminated, parking on high value land is reused significantly in the process.?
Walking and biking can help for a tiny share of the region's future 130 million passenger-miles of travel.
Without future alternatives evaluation why are we shaking up normal growth and density for communities when meaningful trolley use increments are unlikely affordable? unlikely affordable
Two studies follow provide some background.
Five years ago by Reason Foundation, with chart showing fuel improvements in thr 50s to60s percents are predicted. Current Consumer Reports lists a comfortable size Toyota Prius at 52 mpg overal, 92% above current Federal standard.
Conclusions and Recommendations Generally, existing and likely future technologies have a far greater potential to reduce GHG emissions than compact development. Based upon Driving and the Built Environment and Moving Cooler, compact development provides little possibility of achieving a reduction of more than 5% in auto GHGs by 2050. On the other hand, wider application of existing technologies could produce GHG emission reductions of up to 54% by 2050 with current hybrid technology. GHG reductions from new technologies, such as electric cars, could be even greater. These technologies are potentially sustainable financially, economically and politically, and thus environmentally. By contrast, imposing compact development would be enormously expensive, is likely to reduce economic growth substantially, and could stifle opportunity for lower income households.
"Recent" CAAir Resources Board sponsored at UC Berkeley
In 2008 California passed Senate Bill 375
planning organizations (MPO) to develop Sustainable Communities
Strategies (SCS) as part of their regional transportation
planning process. While the implementation of these strategies
has the potential for environmental and economic benefits, rising
housing costs and changing neighborhood conditions may compel
low-income residents and households to move out of
transit-oriented neighborhoods. This out-migration is called
“displacement.” The study examined the relationship between
fixed-rail transit neighborhoods and displacement in Los Angeles
and the San Francisco Bay Area. For more go to the announcement
We had a public meeting ( fully disclosed ) in advance ...I always implore people to show up on formulating our updated Clairemont Community Plan. I sit on the traffic committee as well as the by laws committee yet only two members of the public showed up!! I'm a candidate for D2, my opponent has nearly a million dollars to run against me and not one soul bothers to concern themselves with my campaign. Is all of this some kind of joke!! Otherwise, why don't you folks recruit a candidate that will follow the will of the community. Not even Mr. Andrew Keatts will hear me yet I was working on these issues before he was born...go figure..in France, they have an old saying..."Les Americains ont fait le cinema." Which means, Americans love to pretend!!
Wiping the egg of my face; Correction below.
Mid-Coas Trolley projected travel is 07.33% of the Regions mass transit 2050 total.
This station is a small portion of that.
In passenger miles, the Mid-Coast total equivalent is is about 13 miles of one freeway lane.
Why all the fuss to re-make the a community for about one tenth of this?
Have residents been told about the other alternative; more efficient autos?
For automobile trips in the region that might instead use the trolley, what would auto fuel and CO2 reductions be needed in mpg, for trolley w/o dense housing, and with dense housin
Mid-Coas Trolley projected travel is 0.73% of the Regions mass transit 2050 total.
This station is a small portion of that.
In passenger miles, the Mid-Coast total equivalent is less than1.5 freeway lane.
Why all the fuss to re-make the community?
Have residents been told about the other alternative; more efficient autos?
For automobile trips in the region that might instead use the trolley, what would auto fuel and CO2 reductions be needed in mpg, for trolley w/o dense housing, and with dense housing?
If the zoning doesn't permit high density near transit stations, then it should be changed. Why should zoning stay the same forever, when it's a primary reason for our housing crisis? But since "restrictive zoning is among the most powerful forces behind racial and economic segregation in the country", it's unsurprising these residents don't want it to change.(https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/08/13/the-best-way-to-fight-inequality-in-cities-is-through-zoning/?utm_term=.d49a213ab2a5)
As a realtor, LaMattery benefits from preventing new housing. Low supply further boosts already-soaring property values, increasing his commission per sale. And he doesn't need to distribute his “model” for obstructing new housing to community planning groups. They are already largely populated by self-interested older, single-family homeowners. Parking, traffic congestion and greater property value profits are their priorities - not housing for their children or climate change.
"Find somewhere else to live" isn't planning (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sd-me-housing-sherman-20170302-story.html), and these folks have no business doing it. After 15 years of declaring a housing emergency, the City Council has finally recognized San Diego’s community planning group problem. Regionalization, increasing CPGs’ economic/demographic diversity, and term limits are all being evaluated. And at the state level, similar action is underway to overrule local opposition to workforce housing: http://www.cp-dr.com/articles/20170312_1.
People want this to remain Nebraska by the sea. San Diego is the least urbanized of any of the top 10 largest cities in the country, with over 49% of its residential area taken up by single family homes. The land use is perpetuated by district council elections. It is incumbent upon the planners to educate the populace about the benefits of reasonable increases in density (i.e. address climate change; provide needed housing, support local retail, etc.). They have not done a good job of doing that.
@bgetzel You have obviously never been to Nebraska. Any town or city in Nebraska makes San Diego look like Paris.
Thanks Andrew for a great article. I'm now working with Perry Dealy, architect for Mark Navarro and the roughly 11 property owners of the site to bring more voices to the table. Raise The Balloon (metaphor for raise the awareness) began with one concept in mind: our local Community Planning Groups have no "Public Participation" program or outreach programs excepting a 3-day notice of an agenda and meeting location that many residents are unaware of. This is due to a resistance by City Planning to help volunteers who give of their time to sit on the groups, fund them, and instead hire outside PR firms to do the "dirty work" of presenting their plans to the community.
The other side of the story, on every issue facing the State of California's push to urbanize, must also be heard. There are many great concepts in TOD and the City of Villages. Unfortunately, if the density bonuses given to developers are in reducing minimum required parking spaces for residents of the new housing, well, there are many bad examples of "parking wars" throughout the city to illuminate. San Diegans cannot be forced to use transit, but they can be invited to do so if the development surrounding transit hubs are conducive to resident's lifestyles.
The other hill to climb, with urbanization and the concept to build "Up not Out" has, from my perspective as a 30-year residential real estate broker, the inherent problem that people face living in condominium units. Millennials may think it's great at purchase but once a baby is born or an HOA comes down on them for loud music, they want to move to a single family residence. I've made money in real estate selling them the condo "they had to have" only to resale it and sell them their "forever home." Condominiums can be great investments, but to this day, the buyers I've sold them to would have preferred a single-family home if they could have afforded one.
I want more housing in San Diego because without it, my job as an agent will soon disappear. I've worked for years in the mortgage and real estate business helping first-time buyers obtain their first home. They have disappeared.
We want sustainability, connectivity, and community built together with those that build and those that must live with the result.
I will be organizing meetings for those who want to bust our height limits for urbanization so that their voices are squarely in the mix. Our community banded together and solved the issue of acceptable density and height with the Protea Project on the corner of Clairemont Drive and Ingulf streets adjacent to the new Clairemont trolley station coming in 2019-2020. This was considered by residents as the "Gateway" to our community. SANDAG wanted to make it a park and ride, residents wanted a mixed-use project with Trader Joe's as an anchor tenant.
We battled with SANDAG and finally won, not because the city "capitulated" but rather because the Board of Directors was willing to hear the whole story. In the end, we found a developer who is skilled at building residential mixed-use projects, had the necessary financing to "build it right" and who was willing to work directly with our community prior to sending an application through the normal process of our Community Planning Group. This went far to streamlining the development process: community working directly with the developer.
Raise The Balloon was organized under a single issue, "NO 60Ft," but the experiment of community activism paid off and it is now an "umbrella" organization where issues that other communities in the 52 Plan areas of San Diego can post their issues and organize their residents whether they are FOR or AGAINST a project.
The City of San Diego doesn't build, they set the rules as to what can be built and where it can be built. But residents working directly with the developer of proposed projects can facilitate the community concerns with the demands of development. There are no "bad guys" here, we are all San Diegans and we need to learn new and better ways to work together to provide more housing where it is appropriate.
We invited Councilmember Lorie Zapf to our meeting. We will be holding a "Town Hall" with or without her. We need to work with the elected officials we have and they need to work with us. This will facilitate the concerns everyone has.
Councilmember Zapf could take a cue from several Republican Congressmen, who on the National Political scene, have realized that facing their constituents in Town Halls may begin with a few hours of shouting and loud voices and end with an hour of productive problem-solving.
I believe that we can increase housing without destroying the nature of our neighborhoods. But it will take opposing sides using "cooler heads" to do so. I love my democratic form of government! This is the time for all of us to stand up and be "Statesmen," become more articulate with the issues and work together. I, in essence, believe in "community."
Assuming San Diego needs more housing, this seems like a very good location for density. Right now it's mostly unattractive commercial buildings. If you can create a livable community here, with the basics needed by residents (grocery, restaurants, etc.) they are just a few miles from the beach, a short trolley ride to downtown, Mission Valley, San Diego State, or soon UCSD; so they would not need cars. They can literally walk to Mission Bay or easily bike there (or to the beach). This could be an ideal place for many people to live, with lower rents than the beach area, but quick accessibility to the places people want to go. This is a space that has long been neglected and unattractive. It could be turned into a highly desirable living location and benefit San Diego generally by adding housing that leverages existing transit and doesn't require more roads.
"Dealy said so far, neighbors are more concerned with building heights affecting their views than they are with density increases."
The community wants neither as it will drop the quality of life in that area significantly.
Within this marked out zone is the trailer park slated to be closed.
With all the talk about the need for affordable housing near transit this is what we get
"• A large RV park in Mission Bay Park is set to be paved over and replaced with 150 luxury rental homes. (Reader)"
So they will eliminate low cost housing (RV park) and replace it with luxury rentals while not giving these RV"res anywhere to go.
These are mostly seniors in this and the other RV parks close by
The City is so FOS and talking out of both sides of their mouths
That's why a real community PLAN is needed. Not piece-meal development. Density itself is not the enemy; unfocused and emotional-based partial planning is.
And, Mr. Lemieux, when situations change, the plan needs to change along with it. Just because a contract is implied doesn't mean it should never change.
"That's why a real community PLAN is needed. Not piece-meal development. Density itself is not the enemy; unfocused and emotional-based partial planning is."
I don't dis-agree with that statement but I do dis-agree with what is being proposed and how they are going about it.
Simply displacing the residences of the RV park and throwing them on the street so some developer can develop 150 luxury rental homes is just plain wrong.
Simply ignoring the efforts of the local planning group and attempting to steam roll Dealy's project through including the 90 ft structure and 3000 residences ......well, should surprise no one the locals are pizzed.
That's exactly what I mean, lack of coordinated planning (un-coordinated planning is, of course, an oxymoron:-) Also, don't forget that community planning boards/groups do not have any official power before the city council. They ALL are advisory, only. City council can do whatever they wish and it's totally legal. Also don't forget: just because something's legal doesn't make it right.
The Dealy development must go through the usual vetting process by community and city-at-large, as well as official committees and councils, who will judge it's merits. Hopefully, correctly.
@michael-leonard ; We have an implied contract with the City management that they be responsible and use common sense to manage the City's affairs.
"More recently, it adopted a Climate Action Plan with ambitious goals and the teeth to help make them reality: Half of city residents are expected to walk, bike or take transit to work by 2035, or else the city could be sued."
This is an example of "stupid"... don't be one of the folks who are stuck on stupid!
@Mark Giffin There is no RV park within Mission Bay Park wthat will be paved over so 150 luxury homes can built. I assume you refer to the RV park east of I-5 at Knoxville St., in Bay Park.
The mobile home park in Mission Bay Park (De Anza) is now closed and residents removed. The RV camping area at De Anza continues to be active. Residents of De Anza had been living on dedicated parkland for many decades and, since the lease expiration in Nov. 2003 - with the sun-setting of 1981 state legislation that *temporarily" had made that use legal - illegally. Residential use of public parkland, other than temporary recreational RV use, is not allowed under the City Charter or State law.
That said, I agree that the lack of affordable housing in San Diego has been severely diminished as once-affordable housing is replaced with high end housing and the City fails to take action to stem the tide.
Scott Sherman's recent outline on how to address the problems makes a beginning although I don't agree with some of the suggestions put forward. Other suggestions do appear to have possibilities.
In the end (although that seems a strange setting for high-end condos at this time), the trailer park is privately owned property. If a proposed development isn't counter to the community plan or, if needed, the community is willing to support an amendment to allow, the property owner does have that right. Let us hope that there will be some reasonable affordable units included or built nearby as is allowed in the zoning code. Idoubt, however, thatmany if any residents of the trailer park will be able to afford them, though.
"Lemieux, for instance, reminded the crowd it isn’t alone: People throughout the city oppose urbanization."
That's just not true. A big reason for the crumbling infrastructure across San Diego is that sprawl development does not generate enough tax revenue to support that infrastructure. Greater urbanization allows for a tax base sufficient to support the necessary infrastructure. I would much rather have a greater level of urbanization, not necessarily in the form of high rises, in exchange for a city that isn't crumbling everywhere.
@Greg Martin ; My house was built in 1954, we bought it from the original owner's heirs and remodeled the whole thing.
If you knew the history of San Diego, you would know that one of the conditions for the development of Clairemont was to update the water system for the entire City. I'm paying $6K a year in property taxes... where is THAT money going?
These NIMBYs are so incredibly selfish. They got their housing, and they show no regard for anyone else. They want to deprive us of the chance to build housing that is dense and close to jobs, and they also encourage people to drive further, which clogs roads, pollutes the air, and hurts people's quality of life. Also, a tight housing market drives prices higher, which inflates their net worth and makes for larger commissions for real estate agents like James LaMattery. Advocates of affordable housing and density need to organize to challenge these people and their greedy position.
@David Crossley Wouldn't they like their potholes fixed?
@David Crossley If the neighborhood were allowed to keep the tax revenue, they could hire their own pothole repair crew. Or they have a lot of leverage right now that they could use to demand more timely repairs.
@David Crossley So San Diego should keep the money because the neighborhood might spend it on things they think are more important than potholes?
@David Crossley I'm no fan of central planning, so I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.
@Gabe Garcia I think opposing density is perfectly rational when density brings blocked views, noise, crime, pollution, and so on and when opposing it costs the neighbors almost nothing. Maybe if the neighborhood were allowed to keep all the tax revenue a project would bring instead of being forced to share it with the rest of the city, they might not be so opposed to density.
@Gabe Garcia ; Not to dribble rainbow colored, flying unicorn urine, all over your parade, but where do you live?
I bought the house in Clairemont because it was a lot less expensive than La Jolla, Point Loma, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, Mission Hills, North Park, or University City.
Maybe Chris Brewster will sub lease you his backyard to park your "Tiny Home"... I hear that he is one of those "privileged" folks that have had everything handed to them in life.
ATTENTION Chris Brewster, this is a "SARCASTIC" post.
@Derek Hofmann @Gabe Garcia Density doesn't bring crime. That sounds like a fairly reactionary stance. Density actually reduces pollution, as the urban sprawl makes people drive. Density may block views, but so what? That's the most self serving argument someone could make. Like I said in my original post, you have your view property, and everyone else can go to hell. My big problem with the NIMBYs is that they are blocking a better way of life for a majority of citizens in favor of holding on to their oversized piece of pie.
@Gabe Garcia Density brings more people, and more people usually means more crime.
Yes, NIMBYs block a better way of life for the majority, but why should the majority be allowed to force the minority to suffer for the majority's benefit? That's two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner, or in other words, tyranny of the majority. We can do better.