Attendees included residents around Rose Creek, business owners, Campland, Pacific Beach Town Council, Pacific Beach Planning Group, DiscoverPB, youth ages 13-18, local teachers, recent MBHS graduates and several local residents.
Eco-district is an urban planning term denoting the objective of attaining “sustainable development” while reducing the ecological footprint and impact of community projects.
The Balboa Avenue station is one of nine planned for the Mid-Coast Trolley project extending service 11 miles from Santa Fe Depot downtown to University City, ending at UTC and serving major activity centers including Old Town and two UC San Diego stops.
A specific plan for the Balboa station re-designates about 51 acres of commercial land uses to the “community village” classification. That would allow high-density multifamily housing in a mixed-use setting along with commercial, service and civic uses. The plan also calls for identifying multi-modal improvements to increase non-motorized access to the transit site.
Led by community activist and sustainability proponent, Kristen Victor, and first introduced in 2014, PB has been striving since 2016 to obtain EcoDistricts Certification. That is a new, process-based urban development standard for neighborhood-scale projects that promotes both environmental sustainability and climate protection.
The May 19 EcoDistrict meeting, the third in a series, was led by professional experts working in sustainable architecture, equitable housing and environmental protection from organizations including SD-AIA, Housing You Matters and the City of San Diego Bicycle Advisory D2 representative.
Maps were used as a visual tool in the breakout sessions with collaborative communication around mobility, housing and the environment. Participants commented on Post It notes and discussion notes were tracked on a white board. The information is being inputted to the ConnectPB data base, supported by Crowdbrite, a community tool crowdbrite.net, a PB EcoDistrict resource and tool.
Excerpts from public comment at the meeting:
The EIR does not adequately evaluate impacts to Rose Creek;
PB residents are concerned proposed additional lanes will deter them from walking and biking to the trolley because of safety concerns;
The draft specific plan is very poorly prepared, exhibits are not explained, terms are not used consistently;
The plan should provide more direction and vision for what the redevelopment of the planning area should be; and funding is not discussed, a critical piece of any specific plan.
Following the meeting, Karin Zirk, of Friends of Rose Creek, and longtime PB resident and community planner Don Gross, weighed-in on their concerns about the new Balboa/PB trolley stop and its specific plan guiding development.
“The trolley station per say isn't the big concern,” said Zirk. “The big issue is the redevelopment area between Interstate 5 and Rose Creek where the City is proposing increasing the number of people living east of Rose Creek three or four times over without providing any benefits to Rose Creek. The City is refusing to dedicate the Pacific Beach portion of Rose Creek as an open space park. The City does not provide trash cans, nor does it take the lead in dealing with the [homeless] encampments in the creek bed.”
“If you ask me if (the City) have a plan or an overview, I would say they don’t have one,” said Gross. “People still don’t know what they are voting for.”
Gross believes not enough thought has been given yet to how pedestrian, bicycling and other non-motorized forms of transportation will safely access the future trolley site.
“Right now they have plans for a staircase that people are going to have to take their bikes down on,” he said. “That’s got to change.”
More information on eco districts can be found at ecodistricts.org.