Two Critical Areas
As described in my previous post, the community has won some significant victories in the community plan updates as they affect University Heights. However, serious challenges to our quality of life remain in two key areas on the North Park side of UH. Please note that “du/ac” means “dwelling units per acre.”
- 4353 Park Blvd. (Area 2): After decreasing the density for the site currently occupied by the New Vision Fellowship Church at 4353 Park Blvd. to Community Commercial (0-29 du/ac) in January 2016, the City has upped it to Community Commercial (0-109 du/ac) in February 2016. Here is what this site could look like at 109 du/ac:
The site is located directly across from Birney Elementary School and abuts the southern boundary of the historic neighborhood commercial area along Park Blvd. from Adams Avenue to Meade. The proposed density of 0-109 du/ac is completely inappropriate for this location because of potential traffic hazards for school children, increased westbound traffic through University Heights, additional parking impacts in an area already deficient in parking, and because such high density is completely out of character with the rest of the low to moderate density along Park Blvd. between Adams and El Cajon Blvd. A significant majority of over 150 UH residents voted in support of Community Commercial (0-29 du/ac) for this site at two community workshops in May 2013 and in October 2015.
- Howard to Lincoln Residential Area (Area 6): In the January 2016 revision to the North Park Land Use Element, the City recommended a base density of Residential-Medium High (30-44 du/ac) for this residential area (also known as the Pedestrian-Oriented Infill Development Bonus Area) and also introduced a new Density Bonus Plan which will allow up to 73 du/ac.
According to research by Randi Vita, a resident of the Pedestrian-Oriented Infill Development Bonus Area, this 100-acre neighborhood contains over 200 historic single-family home and bungalow courts with an average age of 90 years.
Pedestrian-Oriented Infill Development Bonus Area
The City has targeted this historic neighborhood for significant development with 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.
Density Bonus Unnecessary to Accommodate Population Growth
Further, according to SANDAG, the City’s official population and housing forecast agency, the base density of Residential-Medium High (30-44 du/ac) proposed by the City for this area will more than accommodate the population growth forecast for this area. The proposed Density Bonus is unnecessary to accommodate the projected population growth.
As of the 2010 Census, Census Tract 9 (which stretches between Park, El Cajon, University and Texas and includes the Pedestrian-Oriented Infill Development Density Bonus Area) has a population of 5,178, 3,141 housing units, and an average density of approximately 20 units per acre (considered Residential-Medium density by the City). SANDAG forecasts a 44% increase in population in Tract 9 to 7,445 by 2050, and a 36% increase in housing units to 4,280 by 2050.
That is a net gain of 1,339 housing units over the next 40 years in the area encompassing the Pedestrian-Oriented Infill Development Density Bonus Area. The allowable base density for this area is 44 dwelling units per acre which will more than accommodate this projected growth. The Density Bonus of up to 73 dwelling units per acre proposed for this area by the City is completely unnecessary and inappropriate, if the goal is to accommodate increased growth.
Keep in mind that for any of these projects, developers can add another 30% in density if they comply with California Housing and Development Standards for providing affordable housing to low-income families.
Time is running short to take action on these important land use decisions. The North Park Planning Committee has already “approved in the concept” these proposed density increases, so now it is up to the community to let the City Council know what they think. The City Council will be the ultimate decision-makers on these very important land use issues.
Please email Councilmember Todd Gloria (firstname.lastname@example.org), and copy Lara Gates, City of San Diego Community Plan Update Manager for North Park (LGates@sandiego.gov), and Vicki Granowitz North Park Planning Committee Chair (email@example.com), with the following message:
- Eliminate the Community Commercial (0-109 du/ac) land use designation for the site located at 4353 Park Blvd., and restore the Community Commercial (0-29 du/ac) land use designation as proposed in the January 2016 version of the North Park Land Use Element.
- Eliminate the new Density Bonus Plan (allowing up to 73 du/ac) for the residential area between Howard and Lincoln and maintain the base land use designation as Residential-Medium High (30-44 du/ac).
- Change the land use designation along Georgia Street and Howard Avenue from Residential-Very High (55-73 du/ac) to Residential-Medium High (30-44 du/ac).
- Maintain a 35-foot height limit in all residential areas.
Please also attend the University Heights Community Association meeting on Thursday, March 3 at 6:45 pm at Birney School Auditorium, 4345 Campus Ave, San Diego, CA 92103. City Planners Lara Gates and Tait Galloway will present about proposed development on the North Park side of University Heights.