The vote on the time extension request for the marketplace redevelopment — calling for the demolition of two existing commercial buildings and the construction of three commercial buildings in their place at 955 Catalina Blvd. — was approved 7-3 following an unsuccessful 6-4 vote on a motion to deny the time extension.
Neighbors next door to the development project, Jeff and Peggy Fischbeck, turned out to oppose the time extension.
The couple urged the planning group not to vote immediately on the time extension, but rather to delay the vote for at least another month.
“You’re considering giving them another three years to allow a project you don’t know anything about,” said Peggy Fischbeck. “This project doesn’t fully serve the needs of the community and the community needs time to be able to look at this plan again. I say no time extension. Go back to the drawing board and make the changes that need to be made.”
Jeff Fishbeck agreed.
“The fact is this project is taking away 20 current parking spaces and compensating by shrinking existing parking spaces,” he argued. “The project will impact businesses negatively, traffic will overflow into the surrounding neighborhood, and 18-foot delivery trucks longer than what’s allowed are already backing into the site from the street causing problems.”
The Fischbecks also pointed out only two members are still on the PCPB board that initially approved the project as proposed three years ago.
Mark J. Linman, representing project developers, said the time extension was being asked for to meet administrative deadlines and to allow more time for the economy to improve.
He said developers would willingly address questions about the project but have few answers at this time.
“The anchor tenant, Fresh & Easy, is in limbo right now,” Linman said. “We don’t know who the tenants would be, how construction would be phased, don’t have the buildings leased at this point. We’re asking for the extension of time to modify the existing approval.”
PCPB member Paul Webb said he was conflicted about the project, but felt an obligation to treat the developer fairly.
“I don’t like this project very much,” he said. “On the other hand, these guys have played by the rules, designed a project that’s been approved by this board and they’re allowed one time extension. I find it hard to deny that.”
Planner Jay Shumaker said the group needed to consider economic realities relating to the project.
“To let the project die now isn’t going to improve the economy,” he said. “You could punish the owners by not granting a time extension and you could end up with a project that’s a lot worse and cheaper.”
PCPB member Brittany Taylor said that when the project comes up later for environmental and governmental review, “only the extension of time will be looked at. They will not look at the entire project over again.”
Webb gave a brief presentation to the group on the San Diego International Airport’s draft EIR for the Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan. He urged the group not to accept it as proposed.
“The EIR is flawed and does not accurately represent the displacement of new residential or commercial uses that will result if the airport land use plan is approved in the from it’s in now,” he said.
Webb said the method used in the draft EIR to analyze impacts was “very obscure” and “doesn’t look at each of the individual community plans.”
Webb concluded the airport plan needs to revisit the community plans of all areas adjacent to the airport and re-analyze, from each community’s perspective, how they’re going to be impacted to get a more accurate picture.
PCPB chairwoman Julia Quinn said the planning group has been asked to submit a list of potential community projects related to infrastructure, like street, sidewalks, bike paths and so on to be considered for future public funding of the city’s 2015 capital improvement program.
She urged residents and planners to email suggestions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org by Sept. 9 to be considered at PCPB’s next meeting on Sept. 19.