No Seat At The Table

Planners Implement Their Own Version of SB 827

It was clear from Monday night’s meeting of the Linda Vista Subcommittee for the Morena Specific Plan (MSP) that the community no longer has a seat at the table in Planning Department decisions. 

(Powerpoint presentation of the draft Plan by M. Prinz)

Planners deliberately excluded four years of Linda Vista Input regarding height and density in the MSP, something the city had promised to retain just weeks earlier.

As to the residents’ concerns regarding inadequate parking that will spill over in their streets, the answer was that status quo parking requirements (Article 2_ General Development Regulations) were in place.  But that status quo is under fire as the Planning Commission just voted to remove required spaces around transit hubs. 

Refusing to include community’s input, the planning department has enacted their own version of SB 827 where local control of planning decisions around transit hubs could be in the sole discretion of the State. 

Senior planner, Michael Prinz, told the dismayed audience that the planner’s decisions would have to be overturned by the City Council.

The decisions could clear the way for the Navarra/Manchester proposal to build 1700 luxury above-market rate apartments with outstanding ocean views at the coming Tecolote Station in Linda Vista.

Ocean views that will rob surrounding residents of their ocean views that they paid escalated prices for when purchasing their homes.

But first, the city’s draft of the MSP will have to be approved by the San Diego City Council.

Bay Park and Bay Ho will be next to see above-market-rate towers if the supermajority of Democrats on the City Council caves to big development’s in-lieu fee loophole to escape building affordable housing units on-site.

Perry Dealy, architect for the Tecolote Station project, confirmed in a conversation with me last year that affordable housing is currently not in the Navarra/Manchester proposal.

This is the same City Council that took the opportunity to berate Fairfield Apartment Homes developers for not including affordable units on-site in a project that has been stalled for years since the release of the MSP.  Fairfield will be providing middle-market rentals, not luxury towers.  They also have community support for their project because they have respected the existing height limit.

The Linda Vista Subcommittee wanted the two major sites to include a requirement in the MSP that a 40% ratio of affordable units built on-site in every new project.  

The residents of Linda Vista will prove to have more guts to tackle the affordability of homes in San Diego than the Council members, if the loophole isn’t fixed.

What happened at the Subcommittee meeting will begin to happen in all of the City’s 52 Plan areas.  Residents across the city will soon wake up to the startling reality that new projects will be approved in rapid succession if we don’t band together.  Projects that will  offer no affordable housing if the in-lieu fee loophole isn’t closed quickly.

Why does the inclusion of substantial numbers of affordable units built on-site matter?  It is supposed to be the goal for providing the type of housing that SANDAG’s Regional Comprehensive Plan dictates.

The 10% of a project’s total number of proposed units, required to be set aside by developers to avoid paying the In-lieu Fee, is such a paltry number that it would take years, if not decades, to put a dent in the units needed to fulfill today’s need. And some of our existing stock is dwindling.

In-lieu fees are an arcane method of providing enough affordable housing, it’s like chipping away at an iceberg! 

Why is it important to demand high percentages of affordable housing in Linda Vista?

Large numbers of affordable units in a project can be cost prohibitive for luxury unit tower builders, such as the project proposed by the Navarra/Manchester 1700 unit Tecolote Station proposal, because reaching the 100ft heights intended necessitates steel construction.  It can limit the tallness of the tower.

But can the city get its density wanted and the community its affordable housing quota?

When asked, Prinz admitted that the density proposed by the city for the Tecolote Station site, could be achieved at 45ft, the existing height limit that residents want protected.

Keeping the 45ft height limit in place will be the best way that the supermajority can realize its goal for more affordable housing.  

Vanquishing the in-lieu fee loophole will be the testing ground for whether the City Council will cease pontificating about the need for affordable housing and stand up and support a community that is willing to give more to them than expected if their height limit is respected.

Here’s the Next Steps the MSP will go through:

February 21- Planning Commission Review

March- Land Use and Housing Review

Spring 2019- City Council Approval


1 Comment

Walter Andersen · February 7, 2019 at 4:20 am

Hello James. I’m pretty much convinced those downtown ‘do as they please’ and our input from the many, many ‘public meetings’ mean almost nothing. In general these ‘meetings’ are horribly presented, poor or nonexistent audio and mediocre power point presentations because of lighting- reflections and crap on the wall, generally not a suitable screen. The only thing I can see that the meetings have accomplished is keeping 2 lanes on Morena southbound from Clairemont Drive and keeping the 30’ height (I hope) at Clairemont Drive and along Morena Blvd. (for now) Where
Jerromes is now and that general area, I think that may have been lost. Very sad.

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