Point Loma residents opposed to affordable housing plan
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 06/19/18 - 02:13 PM | 4479 views | 5 5 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Peninsulans opposed to a proposal for 78 affordable housing units in a deserted lot at Famosa and Nimitz boulevards, will have to petition the city for a zoning change if they want that five-acre parcel to become parkland or open space.

That was the upshot of a June 14 special meeting called by Peninsula Community Planning Board. 

The special meeting was mostly a replay of the planning board’s May 17 regular monthly meeting. Neighbors charged then that they were being ignored in planning for the undeveloped site.

The parcel located across from Bill Cleator Park has previously been converted for public use as a makeshift bicycle pump track. Neighbors emphatically said no then – and now – to reusing the property, owned by the San Diego Housing Commission, for affordable housing.

The contested site is proposed to be developed into a 78-unit affordable housing project. SDHC reps told the group again June 14 that the project is in the preliminary phase, with tests ongoing to ensure the site’s viability for development.

About a year ago, PCPB had written a board letter supporting the housing commission’s intention to inspect the site to determine its viability for redevelopment as affordable housing.

Heated from the start, neighbors at the special meeting were not disposed to change their view of the project. They argued it was in the wrong place, would invite the wrong element, and that the best use for the property would be as much-needed parkland or open space. Some suggested housing for seniors was a higher priority.

Neighbors also contended the project would be overly impactful adding to traffic, congestion, parking and densification. “We’re already living on top of one another,” argued one audience member. 

From the audience John Seymour, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, invited Peninsulans to take a tour to see existing affordable housing stock firsthand.

“We’re not interested,” responded one audience member.

“There’s a lot of mistrust with people thinking that we’re hiding something,” said Mike Pavco of SDHC, following a slideshow presentation. “The reality is that we’re just not that far along in the process.”

“Why not put this in a community that wants that and needs it?” asked board member Margaret Virissimo.

A couple of audience members questioned the wisdom of SDHC doing geotechnical and other preliminary studies on the proposed site before the traffic analysis is complete. 

Some neighbors also reiterated their belief that the site is publicly owned, to which SDHC replied that the property had been open space, but that that had been changed by a binding citywide public ballot vote in 1956.

Asked whether SDHC would abandon pursuit of the contested site for affordable housing, SDHC general counsel Chuck Christensen replied, “We’ve been directed by the City to explore building affordable housing on this site. To be released from that obligation, would require another vote from the City to not go forward.”

But Christensen warned, should the site not be redeveloped as affordable housing, that it “would become surplus property and be sold for its highest and best use and could be developed for 170 units.”

Pointing out the City Council is the only entity with the power to rezone the contested parcel, board member David Dick suggested citizens begin lobbying the city starting with their representative, District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf. 

Pavco said SDHC would return later to report to the board once testing to determine the site’s development viability is completed.

Virissimo suggested the issue be brought back later to the board and reconsidered by new members to be seated from the recent board election. 

Comments
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Judy Swink
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June 25, 2018
I think there's merit in the Housing Commission doing the geotechnical testing of the site. That may be sufficient to put paid to the idea of housing of any sort in that location.

The site has numerous handicaps for housing development, not least the subsurface drainage from Pt. Loma to the south as well as the hundreds of thousands of gallons of rainwater which drains into and across the site from Nimitz Blvd. seeking its way north to its historical destination of Famosa Slough and the San Diego River. I've been at Cleator Park as much as a week after continuous rains, long after the streets are dry, and squelched my way across the sodden grass around the sports fields.

Then there's the challenge of ingress/egress from the site at Nimitz Blvd. which would undoubtedly require a traffic light, and access to/from Famosa Blvd. which is at least 20' above the site in question. Technically, these issues can be solved but at what costs?

Generally speaking, I'm in favor of infill development especially when it's for low-income renters or owners but I don't think this site is well-suited for this. We need to obtain factual data from the preliminary studies that the Housing Commission says they will pursue.
Park4Us
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June 24, 2018
NIMBY-ism at its worst. We need affordable housing. Parks are nice too, but, there is a large park right next door. Parking, traffic and infrastructure are legitimate concerns, but, they are concerns that need to be addressed not impediments to fixing the housing crisis. Sorry, but affordable housing is either a priority (and it should be) or it's not; and if it is a priority then this and other projects should be realized (while addressing other legitimate concerns). And BTW, what is meant by “would invite the wrong element.” A thinly veiled code for a group of people who would live in affordable housing? This type of sentiment is something we don't need especially these days.
Judy Swink
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June 25, 2018
The park next door, Cleator sports fields, is limited to very specific organized youth sports activities so would not be equivalent to the kind of park I've heard locals say they'd like to see at the proposed site.
Alternative POV
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July 01, 2018
Agreed. Bill Cleator, Collier, Dusty Rhoades & Robb Field all within 1/2 mile from this site. It's unfortunate that residents won't educate themselves on what "affordable housing" actually means. These are our teachers, firefighters and public employees not Section 8 housing. I hope City leaders and staff do what is right and don't concede to this vocal minority. With regard to stormwater, any redevelopment of the site will improve not just the project area but the downstream drainage path. In 2016 the State of CA passed new stormwater requirements that significantly increase how projects clean and hold stormwater on site. Please don't be afraid of change in our communities. Projects like this are greatly needed for the current and future generations.
CJOz
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October 09, 2018
OPEN SPACE PLEASE!! Enough of the overcrowding, the traffic jams, the lines, the waits, the taxation on our area's support systems.

OPEN SPACE PLEASE!! Us humans need room to breathe, grow, play, live and not feel like we are in NYC. Stop with the "I want another Mission Beach hell" tirade. Open space is a dying commodity and I know you want it built upon to make a buck somewhere in it's lineage. Open space generates no profit so I see where many people oppose open space ideas.

Breathe a little... once in a while. Try it.

I will oppose this quote-un-quote affordable housing facade for as long as I live.
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