Green space an issue with Mission Beach condo project
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 05/22/15 - 06:00 AM | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mission Beach Town Council in May voted overwhelmingly to urge the city to require developers of the old Mission Beach Elementary School site to reconsider their condo project’s design, calling upon it to add a true community park instead of the narrow landscaping strip proposed.

“We don’t want (condo) four-plexes,” Debbie Watkins, chair of Mission Beach Precise Planning Board, told the council May 13, noting the community’s plan discourages four-plexes. “We’d like to have them (condos) reconfigured and (have developers) come up with a different plan other than having a strip-mall park.”

Developer McKellar-McGowan is planning a 63-unit, for-sale condominium complex on the 3.25-acre site of the old Mission Beach Elementary School, off Mission Boulevard, at 825 Santa Barbara Place.

The school, closed in 1996 because of declining student enrollment, is to be razed to make way for condos.

The resolution passed May 13 “strongly opposes the substitution of a required park on the 2.23-acre parcel with a ‘green strip’ along Mission Boulevard.”

“We remind the city that the initial requirement was that developing the entire former school property site, consisting of three distinct parcels, would mandate a .35-acre population-based park for the Mission Beach community,” said the resolution, which also stipulates that a landmark Ficus tree onsite should be preserved and included within the new neighborhood park to be created.

“This is the largest land-use change in Mission Beach in 50 years,” argued Watkins, noting, “It’s not a done deal.” Pointing out “the City Council has the final say,” Watkins said the council’s decision can be appealed to the California Coastal Commission.

Watkins characterized the developer’s proposal to create a long, narrow linear park along Mission Boulevard as being “not usable.”

Noting 400 signatures have been collected in two months opposing the project as presently construed, Watkins urged the City Council to hold the developer’s feet to the fire in insisting on their developing more “open green space in perpetuity” onsite.

Watkins argued the layout of the McKellar-McGowan project ought to be reconfigured, ensuring the community gets the new park acreage to which it is entitled, including preserving the landmark Ficus tree.

The community planner said an environmental impact report for the project is to be released “any day.” She cautioned, however, that the environmental document is some 600 pages long and that the public will have only 30 days in which to respond to it.

Warning that putting in a new four-plex condo project in the heart of Mission Beach would be “a nightmare with the one-way streets,” Watkins noted that responding to the environmental impact report will give the beach community “our opportunity to speak out.”

In 2013, San Diego Unified School District Board voted 4-1 to accept a bid of $18.5 million for the old Mission Beach Elementary School site.

McKellar-McGowan has collectively developed more than 15,000 residential units, 2.5 million square feet of office and industrial property and 5,000 units of master plans and subdivisions.

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