Midway planners discuss land use, homelessness
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 11/25/16 - 03:38 PM | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Land-use zoning and homelessness dominated discussion at Midway Community Planning Group's November meeting.

Community planners heard from city planner Vickie White, who's been working with Midway Community Planning Group (MCPG) for months on an update of Midway's Community Plan, the district's blueprint for commercial development.

White “walked” planners through a discussion of land use and zoning for the Camino del Rio District. She noted the city's General Plan identifies Midway-Pacific Highway Corridor as an employment center, adding the Camino Del Rio section is proposed to remain zoned largely heavy commercial and industrial.

Pointing out current land-use designations in Camino del Rio are light industrial and visitor commercial, White said zoning changes contemplated in the community plan update could make some existing businesses or structures “previously conforming.” She added that could create limitations on what can be done with business activity, or property, in the future.

“The Sports Arena's lease is up in 2020 and we'd like to know what's going to be done with that area,” said MCPG chair Cathy Kenton. “Is it going to remain long-term industrial, or be redeveloped for a better land use than what we have there now?”

White distributed a summary spreadsheet to advisory group members outlining allowable land-use designations within a community plan.

“This is the first step we take in articulating the vision for your particular areas in the future,” White told MCPG. “Then we identify a (land use) zone that best implements that particular land use.”

White pointed out the Camino del Rio section of Midway “has a lot of smaller startups” in both the coffee and craft brew industries. “We also want to update some of the currently existing areas that have heavy commercial uses,” she said.

The group conversation then turned to homelessness, an ongoing and worsening problem throughout Midway District, which is proposed for designation as a state-mandated emergency homeless shelter.

“One of our concerns is dumping potentially thousands of homeless in an emergency shelter in this area (Midway),” said Kenton noting “there is a lack of available housing in our city.”

MCPG board member Tod Howarth agreed, likening adding a new emergency homeless shelter in an area already overburdened with homeless to “putting sugar out for ants, more of whom are going to come like frosting on a rotten cake.”

Police community relations officer David Surwilo noted recent state legislation downgrading some non-violent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, allowing early release of criminals to be a factor in increasing crime and the number of homeless on the streets.

“We have a lot of things going against us — and some resources taken away,” Surwilo said.

Asked what's being done to combat homelessness, Bruce Williams, aide to District 2 Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, noted “aggressive transient issues” remain in the forefront.

“It's not against the law to be homeless,” said Williams, adding something can be done under the law if transients “are encroaching or trespassing on other people's property.”

“This is an enforcement issue,” noted Kenton adding, “There's no affordable housing. We've got to do something about affordable housing.”

MCPG will not meet in December, but will meet again on Wednesday, Jan. 18 starting at 3 p.m. at SDCC -West City Campus, Room 205, at 3249 Fordham St.

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