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City to Settle Downtown Lawsuit

The City Council is set to finalize a settlement with environmentalists Tuesday that would force the city to conduct a study exploring greater use of transit alternatives in downtown San Diego than are currently called for.

Save Our Forests and Ranchlands sued the city, the Redevelopment Agency and the Centre City Development Corp. over the downtown community plan that CCDC prepared and the council approved last year. The group alleged that plan, which guides the tripling of downtown’s population by 2030, did not include alternatives for moving people in, out and around the urban core.

The environmentalists said including the alternatives is required under state law. Pending Tuesday’s vote, the city’s pledge to conduct such a new study represents a “100 percent win,” SOFAR attorney Marco Gonzalez said.

“The whole goal is to get people out their cars and off the freeways and to stop the madness and illusion that building freeways relieves congestion,” he said.

Gonzalez said that the study his client proposed will examine the possibility of turning downtown into a transit hub for the entire region.

The settlement, which you can read here, calls for the study of various concepts, such as:

  • Adding a Coaster station to service Petco Park, the San Diego Convention Center and the Gaslamp Quarter.
  • Running underground trolleys downtown.
  • Circulating the trolley along a loop downtown.
  • Installing a “global” traffic signal management system to improve the flow of traffic downtown.
  • Charging market price for on-street parking.
  • Carving out thoroughfares for bus rapid transit.

The agreement would also require the plaintiff to approve the study’s consultant as well as a period of time for the public to comment on the new analysis. Also, the city and CCDC would be required to pay more than $60,000 for attorney fees.

According to the City Council’s agenda, CCDC approved the settlement Jan. 31 and the council agreed to the terms in closed session March 20.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN
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