Possible new city park idea inches forward — but still at snail’s pace
by Tony De Garate
Nov 28, 2012 | 2563 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If there’s ever to be an official, city-sanctioned park at the southeast corner of Nimitz and Famosa boulevards, the first step — albeit a baby step — may have taken place during the September meeting of the Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB).

The land has been informally used and maintained on and off over the decades by bike riders, who groomed the soil to practice jumps and other stunts. Recently, a group calling itself Freeride Famosa developed a plan calling for bike trails, hiking trails and a community garden.

But the land is designated in the Peninsula Community Plan as multi-family residential zone, and is owned by the San Diego Housing Commission.

The PCPB voted 11-1-1 to change the area’s community plan land-use designation from residential to park and recreation purposes, which doesn’t mean a park will sprout up anytime soon.

The PCPB plays an advisory role to the city and has no authority to change the community plan. But the city requires local planning boards to weigh in on any changes to the community plan, and the matter can now advance to the San Diego Planning Commission and City Council for formal action.

Board members also stressed the vote doesn’t mean they favor Freeride Famosa’s plan. In fact, the board voted unanimously in April against explicitly supporting the Freeride Famosa plan, citing concerns like liability, maintenance and the environmental impact to the neighboring Famosa Slough.

But Mike Patton, aide to District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, confirmed discussions have taken place between the Housing Commission and the city’s Park and Recreation Department about a long-term lease in the event the commission decides it no longer needs the land for housing.

It’s unlikely the city would buy the land because the Housing Commission’s bylaws require the land be sold for fair market value, Patton said. It’s more likely the city might lease the land for a token —– perhaps $1 a year, he said.

PCPB member Jarvis Ross called the vote an “indication of what the community wants. All of us know there’s a shortage of parkland here.”

IN OTHER NEWS

• Planners still question the legitimacy of the conditional-use permit the city issued in 2004 that allows the Rock Church to operate at Liberty Station, but they’ve decided to let it go until Mayor Jerry Sanders is out of office. No vote was taken during the September PCPB meeting, but planners agreed not to formally respond to Sanders’ decision last month to overrule a finding by the San Diego County Grand Jury. The grand jury in May issued a report calling on the city to suspend the permit and investigate whether it was issued properly in the first place. The PCPB subsequently passed a resolution in support of the grand jury’s finding. But PCPB Chairman Geoff Page said Sanders is too close to the church to consider reopening the permit, which has no sunset clause, and it would be better to wait for a new mayor next year.

• As the saying goes, half of life is showing up. But showing up has been a bit of an issue lately for neighbors who win seats on the PCPB. The board voted 6-5-2 to install Matt Traino over Cal Jones to fill a vacancy, but Traino — unlike Jones — wasn’t there in case he won, and was unable to take his seat among the other members. Ironically, Traino will complete the term of Tyson Hempel, who won a three-year term in annual elections last March but never attended a meeting and has reportedly left the state. Traino and Jones presented their candidacies during the board’s July meeting.

• The Corky McMillin Cos. are neglecting Building 271, the former Navy “Fit for Life Center” at Liberty Station, according to board members who authorized a letter of protest to the land developer by a vote of 12-1. Dominic Carnevale, who chairs the PCPB’s Liberty Station Subcommittee, presented 30 photos showing signs of peeling paint, rusted hand rails, broken windows, boarded entryways and damage to concrete. Kimberly Elliot, senior vice president for McMillin, said the company is negotiating with a potential buyer for the 70-year-old building, where recruits once did swimming drills.

“We’ve landscaped the building and responded to many of the concerns,” Elliot said. “It doesn’t make sense to paint the building when we’re close to having a buyer for it.”
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