As a 30-year resident of North Park and president of the North Park Historical Society, I have seen a significant rise in desirability and property values in the community over the last 15 years. North Park has become a place where people want to live and the place where businesses want a presence.

North Park’s rare historic character has contributed to the ongoing restoration of commercial and residential housing stock and the surging real estate values. In essence, North Park is a unique small village within a large city. It’s a neighborhood that’s walkable, appealing and authentic.

The changes proposed in the January 2016 draft of the North Park Community Plan put our neighborhood’s small historic village character at risk due. While I expected the updated plan to present proposals for higher density along the major transit corridors, I do not support plans for increasing density across major sections of North Park.

There are two especially troubling aspects of the plan. First, the proposed Pedestrian-Oriented Infill Development Density Bonus program and its related permitting process would create more problems than it would solve. Second, the proposed building height increases to 100 feet along Park Boulevard, El Cajon Boulevard and parts of University Avenue could be problematic, especially along the western part of University Avenue.

The program is designed to promote the redevelopment of so-called Huffman-style six- and eight-unit apartment complexes between Lincoln and Howard avenues and from Florida to Boundary streets. Those complexes are named after developer Ray Huffman who, beginning in the early 1960s bought up single-family homes, primarily in the University Heights subdivision north of University Avenue, demolished them and put up apartments.

Huffman and his many imitators capitalized on the need for inexpensive housing, especially as baby boomers became young adults. The University Heights subdivision had fairly large lots with alleys that made them ideal for a six- or eight-unit complex with parking in front and off the alley. Hundreds of homes were demolished and replaced by Huffman-style apartments in the ’60s and ’70s.


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

While commonly disparaged for their lack of style and because so many Craftsman and Spanish Revival homes were demolished, the Huffman-style apartments probably now represent the bulk of lower-cost housing in the North Park area. Unless the majority of units in the projects developed under the density bonus program were dedicated to low-income housing there would likely be a net decrease in the number of affordable units.

The Huffman-style apartments, almost uniformly two-story structures, are also not out of scale with the remaining single-family homes in the area. The proposed density program would allow for significantly increased density on the land, which would result in a structure much higher than the surrounding buildings, going from two stories to probably, at minimum, three or four.

Even with design guidelines calling for stepping back the third (and higher) floors from the street side, the back side of the building would present a massive structure to residents on the other side of the alley. The south side of the redeveloped Post Office building on North Park Way gives a good example of the result. While the side facing North Park Way is varied in height, the back side is massive.

Increased allowable building heights will also impact the character of the surrounding neighborhoods. For example, the updated community plan calls for a 100-foot height limit from Florida Street to 28th Street along University Avenue. This would be similar to having a series of buildings like the towering San Diego County Credit Union building at 32nd Street and University Avenue along that segment of the street.

While a major transit corridor, University Avenue is a fairly narrow street. If the buildings were constructed to 100 feet, University Avenue would look like a canyon and houses to the north and south would be facing a wall.

I have participated in dozens of walking tours over the past eight years and met many people at street fairs, the historical society’s car show and at book events. People love the architecture of the homes in the neighborhood, the fascinating history of North Park as a streetcar suburb and the role the North Park water tower played in the development of the area.

No one has ever said they would like North Park to be the next Little Italy or East Village. The density of North Park dramatically increased with the demolition of single-family homes to allow the construction of the Huffman-style apartments decades ago. I am opposed to North Park being subjected to a second round of increased densification and further loss of irreplaceable historic resources.

Stephen Hon is a North Park resident and the president of the North Park Historical Society. Hon’s commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

    This article relates to: Community Plans, Growth and Housing, Opinion

    Written by Opinion

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    52 comments
    Walt Brewer
    Walt Brewer subscribermember

    San Diego Forward Regional Plan is the first to include the Transportation Plan previously also called regional. A commendable concept because of the close interactions between transportation and all other activities and facilities, commercial and residential. With strong environmental emphasis, recent community design priorities have shifted to modify lifestyles and facilities to reduce energy and emissions such as greenhouse gas. Along with development density increase, facilities, including housing give priority to improve access to mass transit.

    But public discussions have still been primarily about transportation. Including SANDAG's "we want to hear from you" phone and town hall meetings recently. That is until the specific implement plans for community design appear to the specific citizens affected in several communities. As the article above with comments show many unresolved issues appear when the "rubber hits the road".

    Could it be SANDAG's elaborate public participation stakeholders, focus groups, etc, during Regional Plan preparation lacked proper representation? In addition to facilities reorientation, are most effective designs producing meaningful GHG reduction, including mass transit, and at what cost?

    The issues being raised now seem to have at least equal impact on meeting environmental goals as the transportation ones.

    Isn't "let's hear from you about the Region's sustainable community designs" just as important to the interactive designs and sales tax fund decisions?

    Kristin Harms
    Kristin Harms subscriber

    I agree with Mr. Hon’s assessment of the North Park Community Plan Update proposal.

    According to research by Randi Vita, a resident of the “Pedestrian-Oriented Infill Development Bonus Area”, this100-acre neighborhood contains over 200 historic single-family home and bungalow courts with an average age of 90 years.

    The City has targeted this historic neighborhood for significant development under a “Bonus Density Plan” supposedly to create more affordable housing and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, the City is not requiring any of the new homes to meet state affordability criteria or to incorporate any real energy saving measures such as solar roofs. They are relying on “supply and demand” to create affordable housing, and on the neighborhood’s proximity to bus stops to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

    In my opinion, the City’s proposed plan for the neighborhood will have the opposite effect. It will not only destroy the quality of life in this affordable, historic neighborhood, but create more un-affordable condos and apartments that create more traffic and parking problems and consume even more of our precious energy and water. I have not seen any data or research from plan proponents that proves otherwise.

    Howard Blackson
    Howard Blackson subscribermember

    The current, since 1986, Community Plan/Planned Development Ordinance Zoning has no height limit on El Cajon Boulevard (please see: http://www.sandiego.gov/planning/community/profiles/greaternorthpark/pdf/npdenheights.pdf) . The current, since 1986, Community Plan led to the building of ONE (1) project with housing on El Cajon Boulevard, but easily allowed for many new drive thru fast food restaurants. 


    I support the majority of new housing in North Park being located on El Cajon Boulevard for the following main reasons: Leverage New Rapid Bus Investment; Infill, Mixed-Use, Walkable and Bikable Urbanism to Eliminate Existing and Former Drive-Thru Fast Food Joints. I am not delusional to think that doing nothing will make these changes. 

    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @Howard Blackson I value your Professional insight and agree with you in principle.  


    While I understand the logic, what is illogical is that what is there now, could easily become (over the life of the Plan thanks to increased Density), a wall of tall buildings, especially if adjacent lots are combined.  That would then allow Developers to build really massive tall buildings.  A perfect example are the really massive tall towers on the E. side of Park Blvd. and the single level properties on the W. side.  


    What the Planning Department needs to do is insure that Planning restrictions are made to insure that all those living N. & S. of El Cajon Blvd. don't get their natural breezes and light limited by overly tall development.


    This should have much higher priority than to push NP Density (and/or Double Density) just so MTS has additional riders that could be living much closer to where they work, because if that happened, they would not need to use mass transit, since they are telling us that everyone will be using bicycles in the near future.

    Howard Blackson
    Howard Blackson subscribermember

    @Founder @Howard Blackson I will play along Don because I appreciate your engagement with our community. However, the author framed his argument around density and a misunderstanding of the height issue. Because of this, it is easy to move from the op-ed and into fear/loathing.


    Please know that my concern in writing here is to address misinformation. This includes your 'double' density statement, which is wrong too. The bonus proposal is allow for a 25% increase (from 109du/ac to 135 du/ac + 100' height limit) over the 1986 planned density (109 du/ac + no height limit). Since 1986, with 109 du/ac + Unlimited Height we built mostly drive thru fast food trash dumps on El Cajon Blvd.


    Again, I highly recommend reading the proposed Community Plan here: http://www.sandiego.gov/planning/community/profiles/greaternorthpark/pdf/2016/NorthParkDraftPlanFebruary.pdf


    As we agree that it takes all of this, and not just density+height, to build great places. We agree that we are using coarse/inadequate tools to achieve a standard for new development we all appreciate. We agree that 'massive towers' aren't appropriate, but 3 - 6 stories have been in Golden Hill, North Park, and Uptown since their beginning 100 years ago (these are walk ups). We disagree that 100 year old communities can, do, will, and should change. Some lots on El Cajon and University are still the first buildings ever built on them. It is untenable to keep a century old urban community from change. We have to change to fix infrastructure, to add needed public spaces, to continue to be relative to economies. Doing nothing is irresponsible at best.


    I fear and loath random development and more drive thru fast food junk places. No changes gets us that and THAT is our 'community character.' I propose we we allow 145 du/ac + 7 stories/90 feet tall max with Process Two Community Plan Review (step backs and neighbor protections are in the urban design element). I propose we state exactly what makes our community better (more housing) rather than do nothing and hope for the best. 


    And, the public's right to access the city in light/air (transit, bike, walking) is equal to the private right to light/air on our property. It most certainly isn't an either/or proposition. Finally, please don't state you want to protect the current community 'character' of El Cajon Boulevard... its time for a change.

    vintagevoice
    vintagevoice subscriber

    I agree with Stephen Hon's opinion in this article.

    A major problem with the current draft North Park Community Plan is that it does not explain the reasons or demographic goals of the plan. "Smart Growth" is not an actual reason, and many would say that any growth is bad for the environment. 

    The demographics of North park have been shifting away from family households to non-family households (see the census data). Is this what we desire? Do we want more retirees or more young singles or more families? How does that effect the choices in what we want to build in North Park? Do we want more walkable grocery stores, community centers, parks or bars and restaurants? Where will people who live in North Park work in the future and how will they commute? Where will they go to school? These are all questions the plan ignores and it should address.


    beans
    beans subscriber

    The problem is that the part of town that is affected by the density bonus plan is entirely within residential streets, containing >200 single family homes. The area is a very pleasant community and walkable as it is now. There are Victorian homes, bungalow courts and many small bungalows built in the early 1900s. Here is a real example of what is planned for this residential area. The people who live in those two tiny houses are solidly within the density bonus area and are opposed to the density bonus. They currently live next to a two story apartment that is affordable and provides parking for its tenants. The density bonus plan will replace the 2 story building with a high rise unit that will rent for 2-3 times the current rent, will provide less parking, ruin their yards, quality of life and ruin the character of this street. This is not smart growth. It is unethical growth and this sort of growth is not happening in the neighborhoods where more growth would alleviate transit times, traffic jams, and do something about those areas having the highest rent in San Diego.Why does it have to happen here?

    Brian Edmonston
    Brian Edmonston

    @beans


    If this is an example of the type of housing you wish to protect I just can't agree.  These houses are not practical and while some my call them cute they are really just a step above mobile homes.  

    You need more density to create enough economic acitity to make it a great community to live in.

    You should focus on controlling how that density comes about, rather than trying to fight it altogether.

    beans
    beans subscriber

    @Brian Edmonston @beans These are 100 year old homes, something worth protecting in every city and a rare resource. Most cities are proud to have such neighborhoods. They are beautiful properties with original hard wood floors, original wood work, and a great deal of historic style. They are no where near "a step up from mobile homes". Historic preservation is a gift to future generations. With the green movement toward tiny homes, why are brand new tiny homes embraced, while affordable historical tiny homes deemed "trash"? The sandag projections show that we are no where near meeting their projected density needs. Their very own data refutes the need for this increased density in this neighborhood.The need for density has not been demonstrated and most certainly it has not been demonstrated as a need south of I-8. More affordable dwellings are urgently needed closer to the Golden Triangle, to alleviate traffic and keep up with the ever increasing job growth in that area, not in North Park. North Park is already one of the most affordable neighborhoods in San Diego and one of the few that has historic homes worth preserving. If this type of unethical density (adjacent to single family homes) is not allowed in the parts of town that have no historic homes to preserve and where they much more urgently need to increased density, why do we have to accept it here? Put the new density where it is most needed and then, in another 100 years when we have caught up to sandag's projections, we can discuss tearing down historic resources.

    Brian Edmonston
    Brian Edmonston

    While I understand the danger of dark 'caves' and 'canyons' forming in streets surrounded by tall buildings (think old downtown san diego), there is no doubt that North Park could benefit from taller structures if set back and if street corners are kept lower, like east village.


    For example, looking at the view below, there is nothing pleasant about the set of low rise buildings on North Park Way. I have no desire to walk along this street.  Taller buildings would create more life and would give an opporunity to make north park more livable.  


    If done right I think it more density would improve north park. I personall like town-home style developments with some stairs in front like that shown in the second picture.


    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @Brian Edmonston Then why not move to India Street?  The reason is that you like North Park much better, so do I, but changing much of North Park to India Street will ruin much of North Park, since we don't need the added traffic or Density of India Street.


    I'd like to will add, since I am very familiar with North Park Way, the lots on North Park Way are very narrow and therefore the "stepping down" is not possible without eating into the Developers profits, since they would have less to sell.  Just look at eh image on the sales sign on the Right corner of your image and you will see that the Developer is going to build 4 units about 60 feet tall on the parcel of land that a single family bungalow used to occupy, which will dwarf the single story homes next door to them.  Also in the distance you can see the "Post Office Building," which sticks up and out like a sore thumb, which dwarfs everything around it and blocks the sunlight and breezes.

    Brian Edmonston
    Brian Edmonston

    @Founder @Brian Edmonston


    The patchwork of single story buildings that I see are ugly. The little doll houses are not practical and many of them are not well maintained.  The liquor stores on every corner really don't add value to the community.

    The 60 foot building on the corner (rowhomesonray.com) seem like a reasonable development for this area as it includes parking and is set back from the street.  The structure is also not a monolithic block, but rather it allows for rays of light and air.  I don't really like the multicolored front walls (to miami/LA), but I guess that helps sell it.

    It would be nice to get specific concerns regarding any proposed changes (height, parking, set backs?), rather than just general complaints about increases in density.


    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @Brian Edmonston  Thanks for the better quality images.  You fail to mention what the rear wall setback from the property line will be (see 2nd image) since this project abuts a 2-on-1 bungalow that is in perfect condition since it just was totally restored, whose residents now get to see a 4 story wall instead of the sky when looking Northward.


    The project should have at least been stepped down to the South and at the very least gone to the NPPC to hear what the community had to say about it.  A good rule of thumb would be to allow only 1 story difference in heights between infill projects so that existing structures don't get dwarfed by new construction.


    Do you know the developer?  Any guess how many additional vehicles will be added to those already parking on Ray St. since each of the four condos has 3 bedrooms and only how many parking spaces, not to mention the loss of on street parking to allow for the new driveway.

    mwkingsandiego
    mwkingsandiego subscriber

    I've lived in North Park almost 15 years (sorry Omar), and I think Mr. Hon has presented a very good analysis of the situation. For anyone who is interested, I suggest you stop by the old North Park Post Office and walk around a bit. That 'thing' is monstrously large and completely out of scale with surrounding homes and businesses. Imagine you live east of it and having "sundown" become 2:00 or 3:00pm. Or sunrise at 9am if you live on the west side. 


    I'm also concerned about the infrastructure in the area. Drive the speed limit on University avenue and the pavement will nearly shake your car apart. Or try the 805-University/North Park Way interchange at morning or evening rush hour which will inevitably grow more congested if there are more residents in North Park. I'm told that CALTRANS lists that interchange as a "known issue" but there is no funding planned in any time frame for it. Or does this plan depend on people walking to a minimum wage job in the area?


    On a more macro scale, I know of no plan to correspondingly increase density in the northern parts of the city, let's say north of the 52 in some of those Ranch and Rancho areas. Of course those residents are the ones who use 3 times the water per person, to that will help their water use stats. I don't know what logic was used to make North Park the target of this.


    I've already written to the lead persons on the North Park Planning Commission and the North Park Business Improvement District to express my negative opinions - I urge everyone to do the same. If you can't find their contact info, I'm sure someone here can help. I'm all for walkable neighborhoods, but let's give ALL neighborhoods in San Diego their fair share of added density. Or is south of the 8 a special case?

    Omar Passons
    Omar Passons subscribermember

    @mwkingsandiego No apology necessary, of course.  My point in mentioning the length of time is merely that I've lived through many of the recent changes.  North Park is, in general, a great place to live. And I think people who have only lived here six months have just as much say in it as those who have lived here 10, 20, or 50 years.  Relative to the acreage in North Park, the density needle is barely being moved.  And of course many of the northern communities you mention already possess extremely large developments.  In any event, I'm content to acknowledge a simple divergence of views and want to be sure those who read this op-ed know that like most communities ours has a diversity of viewpoints on this topic.

    mwkingsandiego
    mwkingsandiego subscriber

    @Omar Passons  I always think it's ok for reasonable people to disagree about issues, and want everyone to have an opportunity add their voice to the mix. 

    bgetzel
    bgetzel subscriber

    This city needs to faciltate the growth in its housing stock. By denying this need, San Diego would doom itself to becoming a museum city (like Santa Barbara), with gentrigication of limited housing forcing all low and moderate income people to live else where. By so doing, the City would also be ignoring the need for "smart growth" to combat climate change. Allowing up to 10 story buildings  along major transit corridors, like Park and El Cajon Bivds. and University Avenue will reponsibly place high density housing where it should be. Historic structures would be protected by appropriate regulations and the affordability of at least some of the units would be assured via inclusionary zoning. In addition to providing needed housing, the aggregation of residential units would get rid of many of the ugly and pedestrian unfriendly curb cuts of the existing  6 and 8 pack housing. Finally, increased density would bring in more consumers to purchase the goods and services of neighborhood businesses, who have always had a difficulty in remaining solvent. 


    bgetzel
    bgetzel subscriber

    @beans @bgetzel No, building in Mira Mesa, etc. will just further increase the traffic on the highways by people commuting to the inner city employment centers. We want the future residents (perhaps our kids and grandkids) to live closer-in and take public transit or bikes if possible. The future reidents of the new North Park units are people who could have chosen Mira Mesa, Carmel Valley, Rancho Penosquitos Otay Mesa,etc, etc,  but didn't.

    beans
    beans subscriber

    @bgetzel Smart growth would place the density near Mira Mesa, Sorrento Valley, University City, La Jolla, Clairemont, Carmel Valley, etc. not in North Park. Increased density in those areas would relieve the enormous traffic problems people face getting to and from their jobs every day. There are no traffic jams of people trying to get to work in North Park, but the most congested routes are people working near the other areas and living too far from their jobs because they currently live in North Park, La Mesa, Del Mar, etc. Study the traffic patterns, they do not just show that people drive cars, but where they live and where they work and where new housing is warranted. It is not warranted in NP. NP already is more affordable than all of those other neighborhoods. Those other neighborhoods need more housing and more affordable housing. Increased density in those areas would not threaten any historic properties and would have less of an environmental impact.

    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @bgetzel @beans I agree with beans and disagree with bgetzel.  North Park's future residents will be very much like Coronado's residents, well to do and very protective of their homes that are in a Historic District, yet close to Downtown.  Property values in Mid-City will zoom upward as every more Densification destroys other ares of San Diego, as Developer steamroller neighborhoods that are not organized against ever more Density, which is only good for developers.


    I think we both would agree that quality increases in Density can be a real plus but that said, the trick is to get the types of Density needed, placed in the best locations for them, otherwise Density can create even bigger problems.  Unrestricted Density and/or Double Density is not going to improve North Park. Our infrastructure is already strained, especially during rush hour as traffic backs up getting in and out of North Park.  Since no new highway ramps or traffic signalizations are planned, we all know what will happen, ever more through traffic will be using our residential streets instead of University Ave and El Cajon Blvd, which is already happening and not good planning.


    If North Park needs more affordable housing then lets demand that they build housing with rent restrictions for 30 or more years in order to  insure “affordable” housing will remain “affordable” for the near future not just allow developers to build housing and call it “affordable” to get Density Bonuses and/or as a marketing ploy.All developers want Density Bonuses but are they willing to restrict rent increases for 30+ years, that is what we need to find out, before they get permission to build.

    beans
    beans subscriber

    @bgetzel @beans you are misinformed about the traffic patterns in San Diego if you think Mira Mesa is further from jobs than North Park is. The bulk of San Diego traffic is going from North Park north to the golden triangle/Carmel Valley area along I-5, 805, and 163 or South from North County to the golden triangle/Carmel Valley area.People need more affordable housing in the Golden Triangle and adjacent to the Golden Triangle, where rent is currently 2-3 times higher than North Park's rent. The highways and the train stop in Sorrento Valley are the real transit centers of San Diego, not buses in North Park. 

    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @beans After commuting from NP to SV daily for years, I agree 100%.


    One big reason that they are pushing Density on Mid-City is that is cheaper for Developers!


    BTW: I heard that the Price Foundation owns 60 acres of City Heights, maybe that explains why they want huge Density, what better way to maximize their return on their investment.


    If Density was forced upon SV and/or the GT then huge numbers of folks could live very close to where they are employed and CALTRANS would have less traffic to spend our money on.  Of course the people living in units in the GT and SV would be envious of our historic bungalow homes, which si why our property values will skyrocket if we can dodge the Density and Double Density bullets.

    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @Q2014 Nothing against Mira Mesa, but I bet not many of the people that have lived in North Park for at least a few years would want to relocate to Mira Mesa unless it was to be closer to their jobs.

    Q2014
    Q2014 subscriber

    @beans It's clear you haven't visited Mira Mesa--it's one of the highest density neighborhoods in the city--as well as the UTC portion of University City.

    beans
    beans subscriber

    @Q2014 but if you live in the single family homes in Mira Mesa, as many of my friends do, none of them are adjacent to 15 story apartments. Buy a new single family home in Mira Mesa and your neighbor will remain another single family home. Buy a 100 year old house or bungalow court in NP and your neighbor can easily be a 15 story apartment building. That is the big issue that the residents are angry about. We are not against density or development as a whole. It should just be better managed and based on data, not developer profit margins.

    Q2014
    Q2014 subscriber

    @founder I agree. I have lived in San Diego my entire life, and have seen many changes--some good, but mostly bad. I love the North Park/Universiy Hgts/Hillcrest part of San Diego and don't want the high density either (note that I don't live in these areas anymore). My remark was to the one where the poster "beans" suggested to increase the density in Mira Mesa and UC. I have lived in both of these areas, and I couldn't stand all the traffic and the feeling of no open spaces.

    Q2014
    Q2014 subscriber

    @beans, with all the detached homes in MM, the traffic is horrific, it does not have the same flavor as North Park. I lived in MM for five years and had to get out--the density was suffocating, Getting in and out of MM was (and still is) ridiculous. BTW, there are plenty of apartments and condos in MM, just not the high rises you are referring to. Many homes on postage size lots is just as bad as high rise apartments in any area. It still impacts traffic and has all the same ills as an area with many high rises.

    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @beans @Q2014 Well put.


    Mira Mesa is an example of a Planned Neighborhood that has infrastructure designed for its number of housing units and the other would be an example of Developer Densification that is driven by profits that only further stress the infrastructure that was never designed for additional Density and would therefore cause ever more urban blight.

    Brian Edmonston
    Brian Edmonston

    @Founder @beans @Q2014


    Mira Mesa vs North park is not about the density per se, but rather the walkability. The difference is in the narrow (crossable) streets with sidewalks and smaller lots as well as integration with commerce (the street front stores, coffee shops and restaurants vs shopping centers that must be driven to).


    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @Brian Edmonston @beans @Q2014 Which is why NP stands out from most other Neighborhoods, it still has most of it's 1920-30 bungalows single family homes, while make it SPECIAL.  As time goes by and ever fewer of them get sold for demolition, we will see NP become the Pasadena of San Diego; then home prices will zoom upward.  Historic North park is just around the corner.

    Brian Edmonston
    Brian Edmonston

    @Founder @Brian Edmonston @beans @Q2014


    It is not the bungalows, but the street layout and mixed zoning.  

    That said, if you feel that these houses add so much character, I would try to save the top 25% of them. The rest should be open to development.  

    A substantial percentage of these bungalows are not worth saving despite their age and history - they are kinda junky.  

    I do conceed that some of them are very nice and should be preserved, just not all of them or even a majority of them.

    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @Brian Edmonston @beans @Q2014 

    RE: It is not the bungalows, but the street layout and mixed zoning.


    You have hit upon a sensitive nerve, the street layout is not going to be changed and the infrastructure  is not going to be changed so making the zoning different by making the area more "Dense" is only going to make it far more crowded, while at the same time reducing the QOL.


    RE: I do concede that some of them are very nice and should be preserved, just not all of them or even a majority of them.


    The best approach would be to have these bungalow neighborhoods become so valuable that their owners will not only take better care of them but will also start fixing up those that are not being well maintained until the entire district becomes even more Historically important.


    Having a few here and there would destroy the "feel" of the neighborhood as it is now.  If you look at the neighborhood around Mercy Hospital, you can see what saving a few home here and there results in, a mixed bag of nice homes stuck in-between huge buildings, with so much street traffic that the City even had to agree to letting them have parking district.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Founder "'Dense' is only going to make it far more crowded..."

    Then widen the sidewalks so they no longer get so crowded. Problem solved.

    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @Derek  Widen the sidewalks HOW by removing part of the buildings?   You answer is ridiculous. The city cannot even maintain the sidewalks they already own much less widen them!

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Founder If you wanted to widen the sidewalks, would you really do it by removing part of the buildings?

    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann Perhaps you have not noticed that in the business district the sidewalk already extends from the curb to the storefront so widening the sidewalk would require reducing the width of the street and/or moving the front edge of the building!


    Also the businesses have gotten permission to put tables surrounded by railings or even glass walls "outside" their storefronts which has only reduced the width of the usable sidewalk space by a large percentage, which adds to the feeling of "crowdedness" if that is even a word.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Founder "in the business district the sidewalk already extends from the curb to the storefront so widening the sidewalk would require reducing the width of the street and/or moving the front edge of the building!"

    I knew you could come up with an alternative to removing part of the building!

    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann Business interests should not determine what is best for a neighborhood, despite what the local BID and their lobbyists say, since they are only a small part of all those that make up the neighborhood.  That is a concept that our current Leaders fail to grasp, perhaps because of all the donations they are receiving from these businesses.


    I was disappointed that while the NP's business are urging everyone in the neighborhood to "shop locally" they are not promoting for anything to make the neighborhood better for those same residents.  This is why I started the NP-Residential Improvement District (NP-RID), so all those that live within walking distance to the business district would have a voice similar to the BID's voice.  


    This is even more important now, as the BID's seek to Densify and expand parking for customers and employees into the nearby neighborhoods.  If residents started parking in the business district, the BID would cry foul, but if business related parking makes it tough on residents, well that just too bad for the residents.

    Omar Passons
    Omar Passons subscribermember

    Having lived in North Park for more than 12 years, I've had a chance to see most of the improvements and more than a few contentious episodes about the community's future.  I'm glad the city is taking seriously the regional need for more housing supply and thinking about smart places to put it.  While I don't have any particular objection to tall buildings, especially on major thoroughfares, this opinion piece doesn't give enough context on some of the potential building described. If you start at the Georgia Street bridge looking east on University, you can tell that the road drops in elevation quite a bit. A building that might seem large on the top of the hill really feels less so in context along that street.  But given that University is one of the busiest transit corridors, it - like El Cajon Boulevard to the north - is exactly where additional homes should go. I won't be upset to the see the smoke shops and dilapidated liquor stores and mini strip malls replaced with new housing stock or mixed use options.  "The gulch" - as the perpetually decaying portion of University west of about Pershing is known by many residents - is in need of a makeover.  The vast majority of North Park isn't changing at all.  The net increase in dwelling units per acre across the entire community is, I believe, one unit.  


    Part of the beauty of our system is our right to publicly voice our opinions.  Another part of that beauty is the representative democracy that calls on elected officials to stand in the face of competing priorities and make tough decisions for the good of the community and the city as a whole.  We've got an election coming up and I hope the two candidates vying to represent communities like the one Steve and I share are thinking carefully about how they'll address these issues.  This is a scenario in which you can't have it both ways.  Either Steve will be upset or I will.  Either North Park will have a role in accommodating regional growth or we will have a role in exacerbating the lack of affordability of our region. More height might make it feasible for someone to finally build a second hotel in North Park.  More density will finally enable developers to do more interesting projects like the ones coming along El Cajon Blvd.  Time will tell, but at least this election cycle we will all be certain that the two candidates for District Three will arrive at their jobs being very clear about what's at stake and what the trade-offs are.

    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @Omar Passons I've lived in North Park more than double the time you have and I can tell you from experience that this Density issue is not only NOT NEW but it has mobilized the residents to "protest" what the City Planning Department, the El Cajon Business Improvement District (BID) and the North Park BID (NPMS) want, which is more, more and more customers to increase their bottom line.I’ve heard that BID’s and others commercial property owners have even retained lobbyist with access to our elected Leaders to push for greater Density.Compare that with the ourtreach/discussionwith the general public which has been limited to insiders and long time residents that are used to following these issues and attending meetings.Public input is typically a minute per speaker at meetings like the NPPC or via email, fax and or snail mail.Important topics need to have dramatic noticing, so that residents can plan ahead to attend instead of the typical 3 days (often over a weekend) noticing.To be fair, this Planning effort has been going on for a very long time but except for a few meetings most of the public has not been very involved until now.I predict, that Density will again, mobilize the residents of North Park (and all of Mid-City) to join together and demand better from both their elected Leaders and the Planning Department to insure that any new Plan will improve our Quality of Life, not just make North Park a better place to party at night.


    I challenge VoSD to identify all the organizations in North Park that have hired lobbyists and/or are promoting for greater Density to disclose their efforts.  Then, the residents of North Park can support all those businesses that are promoting for the neighborhood, instead of just themselves!  Since we are always asked to shop locally, the business of North Park should also be good neighbors and promote for what is best for all of North Park not just their BID’s.


    Since the next meeting of the NPPC is also an election night, I expect to see many turn out to vote.  Note: I don’t expect to see a major change in the Board, since the current  NPPC bylaws now require voters to attend at least one NPPC meeting in the year prior to being eligible to vote, which limits people from voting.  I personally feel this is unfair, since if people are residents of North Park, they should be able to vote at every NP election, so that as many people as possible can be involved in the process.  A far better, more equitable system than the current “at large” system of electing Board members, (where everyone votes for the most popular candidates) would be to have Board Members represent differs areas of North Park.  That way they would be elected by those that live in that area; this would prevent the “stacking” of the Board with members that are making major decisions for large areas of North Park that really have no representation on the Board.


    Here are two of the flyers we used in 2010 and 2001, the organizational names have changed but the bottom-line is that the Community is firmly in favor of maintaining the Craftsman flavor of "Historic" North Park, despite what North Park Main Street, the current CD3 incumbent Todd Gloria (who is now termed out) or a number of people currently serving on the North Park Planning Committee say.  


    You might be interested to learn that the residents once got so angry (I believe it was after 2001) that the majority of those sitting on the NPPC Board (it was called th Greater North Park Community Planning Committee then) were voted out of office, and replaced with those against dramatic growth.  I still have many documents from then because I was one of those elected to the GNCPC Board!  I think of it as Density Karma.


    Note: If you would like to be added to the North Park Residential Improvement District email list, send your contact information to NP-RID@cox.net .  All Emails are sent out as Bcc so that your email address is not shared with others and it is never sold or shared.  If you love North Park, please get involved in North Park's future.


    Richard Henry
    Richard Henry

    As a native of San Diego and having been born and raised in North Park over 66 years ago, I agree 100% with Mr. Hon's perspective.  As a teenager, I personally  witnessed what I and others regard as  a depersonalizing and dismantling of this community by developers such as Mr. Huffman.

    Neighborhoods were morphed into pockets of characterless, multi-unit housing projects filled with a transient population.


    Clearly, ten story buildings along University Avenue would dramatically change the character of the area in a negative way.  If this were to happen, the only reason for doing it would be to try and replicate the profits of the "Huffman Era" with little regard to neighborhood preservation.


    I sincerely hope this doesn't happen.

    Scott Davis
    Scott Davis

    How many of these historic resources are registered? We can build around them or even include them in the neighborhood improvements.

    beans
    beans subscriber

    @Scott Davis these historic homes cannot be registered. the guidelines are very strict and these are modest single family homes with no association with a master builder or famous person, but they are still worth saving and are what give the area its character and personality. The proposed plan will build multi-story high rise apartments and condos on all sides and in between these tiny historic homes, completely destroying the community character and making these homes worthless, as far as quality of life is concerned. Right now they make up a charming neighborhood that should be protected from this density. Other newer neighborhoods in San Diego do not build high rises in the midst of single family homes. They build on the periphery to preserve the neighborhoods.

    Scott Davis
    Scott Davis

    I see no reason North Park could not be developed with more density, while preserving historic resources. People want to live in a place that's walkable, has access to transit service, and has affordable housing options. The population will be getting older and will require affordable housing options, as well. We need to start building places that have more employment options, and that are more equitable. We need to say good-bye to sprawl and old and decrepit workforce housing built in the Progressive Era.

    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @Scott Davis RE: We need to say good-bye to sprawl and old and decrepit workforce housing built in the Progressive Era


    Sounds like you are promoting for turning North Park into a Mira Mesa or perhaps DownTown.


    How about this idea, require employers to pay a special tax if their employees don't take mass transit or live within say 5 miles (so they can bike if they want).  Then everyone would start moving close to where they work.  Then those that want to enjoy living in North Park could continue to do so without being displaced by Big Density developments , so that ever more can move here and then commute on our already chocked highways and streets.


    I see Mid-City property becoming at least twice as valuable (if not three to four times) as retired and other very successful people continue to move here to get away from urban sprawl.  Just like beach property becomes ever more valuable, so too will be owning a home in a Historic bungalow community right next door to Balboa Park and just minutes from Downtown SD, especially since our highways will make commuting traffic even a bigger nightmare than it is now.  I use names like Pasadena and Coronado because hopefully people will understand what is possible if Mid-City does not get stuck with too much Development now, which will only put money into Developers pockets (instead of all the current homeowners) which is why they are pushing for more Density in Mid-City.

    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    Salute to Stephan Hon.  His summation of what is happening in North Park (and other parts of Mid-City is great.


    I would urge everyone to get involved because the more that do the better it will be for all of us.


    Here are several ongoing discussions about Density and Double Density in Historic North Park on NextDoor.com


    Mid-City Density, who really supports it and why. https://hartleysnorthpark.nextdoor.com/news_feed/?post=21492968


    Consider these four sides to the Density issue (there are others):

    https://hartleysnorthpark.nextdoor.com/news_feed/?post=21518842


    Why NP is now like Pacific Beach => too many alcohol venues and a decreasing QOL

    https://hartleysnorthpark.nextdoor.com/neighborhood_feed/?is=sidebar


    beans
    beans subscriber

    The people who live in this small area have organized and presented 35 names as being opposed to this density bonus plan to the city planner Lara Gates and the the North Park Planning Committee, but so far no one has shown interest in what the people affected by this plan want. The people implementing this plan do not live in the area affected by it. The residents in the targeted area are furious about it, but are not being heard.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    "If the buildings were constructed to 100 feet, University Avenue would look like a canyon and houses to the north and south would be facing a wall."

    Then why not let the owners of just those houses decide whether to allow a 100-foot building to be built next door? Why should someone who will not be affected by the building get to decide its fate?

    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann If all the owners of these home got vocal they would have far more say in what happens all around them.  As it is now, most people in North Park live very busy lives and therefore don't stay on top of what is being Planned.  That is why they have little say, since the standard reply is that, "If you were interested then you should have been attending meetings when that was discussed."


    This discussion today is a wake up call for everyone living in North Park.


    Bay Park residents got real vocal after people marched around with a big red ballon on a 60 foot line to demonstrate what that building height would look like and  their Council Rep. suddenly decided to back off her position on Density.  Todd Gloria is not worried about being re-elected but both candidates running for his seat are, so we need to make Density an important issue for them and the race for Mayor!


    Hope to meet you and your neighbors at a Planning meeting.

    beans
    beans subscriber

    @Founder @Derek Hofmann Love the balloon idea. The people affected have been to the meetings and have been vocal. The problem is the people in power are not listening/do not care.

    Founder
    Founder subscriber

    @beans  Believe me, they are paying very close attention to the discussions about what is being said about Density both here and on Nextdoor.com 


    I suggest that you and as many other as possible attend the next NPPC meeting (see the link above) then make sure they listen to each and everyone one of you.  If people don't want to speak, they can cede their time to someone that does.  Repetition is very powerful and if we attend all the local Mid-City Planning Meeting to support each other, the Planning Dept. will pay attention.  We are in this together, for the betterment of Mid-City and many within the establishment agree with what we are doing, they just need our support to promote for us against the lobbyist for Density.