January 6, 2017
Mission Hills Heritage (619) 497-1193
Attorney – Everett DeLano of DeLano & DeLano (760) 510-1562
Mission Hills Heritage (MHH), a non-profit all-volunteer organization with a mission to preserve the historic character of the Mission Hills neighborhood of San Diego, has filed a legal challenge to the City’s approval of the Uptown Community Plan Update. Apparently bowing to pressure from development interests, the San Diego City Council adopted a last minute re-write of the Uptown Community Plan that had been in the making for over seven years. Only days before the City Council voted, the Planning Department threw out land use maps that had been developed through years of community input and replaced them with maps based on the old 1988 plan. Similarly, the environmental analysis underpinning the project was hastily recrafted to fit the revised plan without properly analyzing and addressing that plan’s numerous, unmitigated impacts on the community. And in an unprecedented move, the Planning Department ignored extensive recommendations from Uptown Planners, the City’s officially recognized community planning group for Uptown.
MHH’s primary concerns include the overturn of a 50′ height limit for the commercial core of Mission Hills that had been in place for over eight years, the new zoning and density approved for the Mission Hills neighborhood, and the lack of any mitigation of the impacts on potential districts and other historic resources in Mission Hills. Without even going door-to-door through the entire neighborhood, MHH had recently collected over 880 signatures on a petition supporting a permanent 50′ building height limit in the commercial core area, centered on the intersection of Washington Street and Goldfinch. MHH had requested the firm 50′ limit to prevent projects with inappropriate scale and height from irreversibly damaging the lower-scale character of Mission Hills. Instead, the City adopted a 100′ height limit for discretionary projects. Regarding the issue of the height limit, MHH president Jim Reily commented: “We were betrayed. Our community worked very hard over the past seven years to achieve a community plan that enabled smart growth while maintaining our community character. The City’s last minute doubling of the height limit to 100 feet will result in irreparable damage to our broad environment, including the community character, livability and the goals of the Climate Action Plan. We need this decision reversed.”
On the issue of historic resources, MHH board chairman Barry Hager noted: “Unlike the recently adopted community plans for North Park and Golden Hill, Mission Hills and the rest of Uptown have no enforceable timetable for implementing the identified potential historic districts. Mission Hills is one of the oldest, most intact early Twentieth Century neighborhoods in San Diego and the irreplaceable historic character of our community will continue to erode away under this new plan.”
The lawsuit filed by MHH consists of a CEQA lawsuit to challenge the environmental analysis underlying the City Council’s decision to adopt the new plan. Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) is a co-petitioner in this lawsuit. Both groups are represented by Everett L. DeLano III of the law firm of DeLano & DeLano. MHH hopes to work with the Planning Department and new City Attorney to resolve the issues raised in the action.