One way to avoid big fights between developers and communities is for the city to play mediator before a project is even proposed.
Updating community plans is meant to do exactly this. A fresh blueprint calls out stuff neighborhoods need and paves the way for a reasonable amount of new development to help satisfy a growing region.
Done right, it saves everyone involved — developers, residents and the city — lots of time and money, because some of the biggest and ugliest development fights never happen.
The city knows this. That’s why it’s spent more than $15 million over the last 13 years trying to update community plans in 12 neighborhoods, including Barrio Logan, North Park, Encanto, San Ysidro and Ocean Beach.
But the city has just one fully adopted plan to show for it.
This fix for delay and dysfunction within communities has itself been marked by delay and dysfunction. It’s been plagued by poor consultant management, trying to do more work than is really necessary, bad decisions and inconsistent funding.
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"Bragado agrees. That’s one thing the city’s learned: It’s possible to have too much community input."
Were not dust ups a few months ago over building heights, trolley stop densities, etc, because really involved community members and leaders were non in the early planning process?
Plans now are obsolete from an e "We've got it made" prosperous era.
Nowit's innovation, productivity, etc, to help the nation's economy back on track
What a fantastic article! But you know, this dilemma is not just the fault of the Planning Department. It's the job of the City Council to direct the Executive Branch (the mayor) and it's our job to let our City Council representatives know our priorities. I know for a fact that John Horst has been in the ear of every council member he could reach on this topic, but we all let him be a lone voice in the wilderness. We all need to let our representatives know that this is a priority and that current and relevant community plans are far more than important. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease which hopefully isn't associated in any way with something that can be called a "cluster..."
There is one massively obvious - at least from a Planning Group perspective - thing missing here. And it shows that some of the excuses for delays are just that - excuses.
We have too many terrific universities here in San Diego to list here. And many offer urban planning degrees. In Mira Mesa we regularly see students from these schools visiting our meetings. There is a tremendous resource here for the City. They can invite Planning Groups to work together with urban planning faculty and students (as well as environmental science faculty/students) to start drafting sections of an update while the City works through other plans. Once the current batch is complete, the City has a draft largely ready for fine tuning.
I have personally mentioned this to Todd Gloria. I had mentioned it to Carl DeMaio staff when he was our City Councilman. I have mentioned it personally to Chris Cate.
The only question is when the City will get serious about this. The current controversy over One Paseo was entirely avoidable if we had leadership actually interested in seeing San Diego's forward leaning, innovative urban planning protocol work as it was designed to work.
Chairman, Mira Mesa Community Planning Group
Great overview. Love the line about the cluster! Hoping the upcoming Clairemont process can go more smoothly.
Community Plans are a huge make work project for City Staff and it is no wonder that they take forever and then are outdated as soon as they make it through the approval mill.
Most of the time our Community Plans are just an excuse used to justify why something occurred that should not have, as everybody involved looks the other way with a smile on their face and winks at each other.
The reality is that Developers are now using OLD Community Planing rules info to push projects into neighborhoods that should not belong there. DENSITY bonuses are yet another vehicle that can increase projects heights far beyond what those that wrote the old Community Plans ever dreamed would possible.
RE: "a growing population" this is yet another vehicle that is being used to slam DENSITY/GROWTH into some areas while completely skipping other areas, which is why I have been pushing for DIVERSITY in San Diego's housing stock with all neighborhoods having an equal share of Low and Low-Moderate housing, not just the areas along "transportation corridors", which just happen to be in older neighborhoods which also have the least infrastructure and social amenities which never seem to get built despite neighborhoods being promised by all those pushing DENSITY.
North Park was promised many improvements when it became one of the "City of Villages" but then then when they got more housing DENSITY increases the improvements never appeared.
IDEA: Demand the City build the needed parks and amenities FIRST before any new housing DENSITY…
Some of the above posted at : http://voiceofsandiego.org/topics/land-use/whats-driving-faster-permit-approvals/?hubRefSrc=email
All of these wonderful comments, yet nothing gets done, as the comments have said. The reason nothing gets done is because the city is run by the developers and they call the shots. If the community plan is not liked by the developers the plan is ignored.
The city council and the mayor are bought and paid for the by the developers and the hotel owners. It doesn't matter who you elect the 1% control development and if they can't make lots of money from a community plan it isn't going to get done, period.
Having been a Planning Board President for 5 of 6 yrs., I concur with comments on this 'process.' So many of the City's 'planning Dept.' know Nothing of the Community Plans on their projects (woefully inadequate way to 'run' a business or a city!), nor are they even required to 'view' the project sites or proposals when they vary from city codes..despite 'active community understanding of the codes (& misuse),' and subsequent complaints or requests for Code Compliance. As such, developers who have used 'smart growth' tenants, LED, or even 'Green' promises-avoid having to really 'do' anything to benefit the communities that, in San Diego for the past 35 yrs., have been severely 'short-changed' in any 'planning', updating of aging infrastructure or added infrastructure- as opposed to 'stated needs of' or 'demands' of wealthy hoteliers, sports teams and/or those who benefit mainly from the tourist industry. We are a region that depends on its locals as well as its visitors. Why is only 'one side' of this problem being analyzed for its 'needs'? In order to 'work', All of us require effective 'planning and enforcement at the city level' and our involvement to mean that we are listened to and our 'needs' responded to ...by the city...by developerrs..at the community level! As an early winter '01 On Common Ground National REALTOR publication quotes extensively, "People expect more of planning nowadays. Citizens now expect to be engaged in community planning processes, and when they participate, they expect to see results." National REALTORS did Not name their publication after 'smart growth', because of the ways, nationally, that 'development' has abused its name. Only when local 'community needs' are Met, can 'effective growth, planned growth' or 'sustainability' truly occur. Advice such as ONLY when you have "a mix of people who can commit ...for the long haul - you have to live land use planning before you can become an expert on it," must be followed...it IS "What Works!" Including "developers and no growthers to the group; work together!" is a 'minimum requirement' of this process...vs. the unaccountable "Civic San Diego"...a group with Zero Accountability to the Liability that the Taxpayers will end up with! "Look at naysayers in other communities and see what they have to say...don't get stuck in the 'cookie-cutter' rut'....Involve politicians-most don't live in your city, so drive them around; let them see what's really going on. ...take account possible increases in roads, needs for busing, more fire and police, plus town water & sewer," are all parts of nationally learned 'successful processes' in 'what works' in our country. To listen solely to developers is not only to be 'foolish', it is a recipe for Failure.
@Cindy Conger Love your well thought out comment, but it would have been much more forceful and easier to read if you could have used paragraphs. IMO
"The City Council approved a new plan for Barrio Logan in September 2013...voters overturned the plan last June."
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.
Sadly, after millions of dollars and many years, Community Plans are mostly pipe dreams that sit on the shelf after they are finished. They have no legal teeth and the DSD and DOT rarely refer to them during review or design of projects. A good example of this is a 100 year old house (deemed not historic) which is being torn down in Hillcrest to create a surface parking lot. Even though the Community Plan says that parking should be shielded from view, and that the street wall should be maintained - not to mention the many references to "community character" - neither the community or the DSD is able to stop this type of (un)development from happening based on the edicts of the CP.
@Walter Chambers Exactly. I've been on a planning board for some time and came to the same conclusion, unless these plans are made a part of the Municipal Code and DSD is REQUIRED to consider them in its reviews, this is a waste of time and money. Right now, if you ask a plan reviewer downtown if they have looked a a project using a community plan, you'll get a blank stare or they will say no, that is the planning group's responsibility. Planning groups do this well but their recommendations are ignored if they vote against a project. If they vote for a project, you can bet that information is front and center. One Paseo was one of the worst examples, FOUR community groups voted against it and were ignored so what good did their community plans do those people?
Spending money on studies and blue ribbon panels is probably one of the things government does best. Of course 95% of the studies are a waste of time and money because nothing ever gets done as a result.