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.