Excavations and More at the 28-Unit Condo and Mixed Use Upper Voltaire Project

by on September 1, 2016 · 3 comments

in Culture, Environment, History, Ocean Beach

PL Up Volt 83016 StVueConstruction has finally begun on the 28-unit project called the Upper Voltaire Mixed Use – situated on that one-acre triangular-shaped lot along Voltaire Street (where Dominos once stood) just west of Wabaska, overlooking Nimitz Boulevard below.

PL Up Volt 83016 fenceholdIf one peaks over the construction fence, you can see the lot is beginning its transformation into a site for 28 two and three storied townhouses, and half a dozen retail units in the project, which is being managed by Mike Stevens.

PL upper voltaire draw2Here is how we reported on the Upper Voltaire Project in late April 2015 :

Designed to bring in “quality townhome residences”, the units will include 2 or 3 bedrooms with an average of 1,450 square feet. 17 of them will be 3-stories and eleven are 2-stories that will rest over retail storefronts. All the planned units will have a deck, and some will have two, plus garage spaces.

PL Up Volt 83016 LookE fence

Looking east, with construction fence just this side of Voltaire Street.

The project will include 6 buildings, with 3 of them having street-level retail spaces along Voltaire Street. Parking for commercial customers is a separate, at-grade parking lot behind the stores. The mixed use project has been delayed for numerous reasons, and was originally scheduled for grading, shoring and off-site improvement work during the summer of 2012.

PL Upper Voltaire siteplan

Construction drawings of Upper Voltaire .

We reported back then, that “The vertical construction was planned to be finished by mid-2013” and a year and half ago surmised that there must have been a delay of two years. Now, it appears to have been a  delay of of over 3 years.

PL Up Volt 83016 Nimtz

Looking north along Nimitz Blvd.

The Project has a website and the website states:

All dwellings have one or two outside decks, 2+ parking spaces and a secure storage room in the garage. Two elevators access the garage, ground-level outdoor common areas and mid-level residential entries. Gated driveways exit the garage onto either Voltaire St. or Whittier Street (one-block from Catalina Blvd.).

PL Up Volt 83016 lookEhaus

All residences will be sold at full market rate – the City’s affordable housing requirements are satisfied by payment of an in-lieu fee at building permit issuance.

PL Up Volt 83016 Nimitz2We also stated:

The project boasts of having “garnered unanimous approvals by both the City Planning Commission and San Diego City Council,” and states that “the project site was designated a ‘Smart Growth’ location on SANDAG’s City of Villages Regional Plan.”

PL Upper Voltaire drawUpper Voltaire Project Will Add to Traffic Congestion

It looks like local residents – some of whom remain very critical of this project (see below) – will need to anticipate increased traffic in that entire area, due in part to this new project. The project is within the purvey of the Peninsula Community Planning Board.

PL Up Volt 83016 LookNFormer Board member Geoff Page had this to say about the Upper Voltaire project (in comments to our April 2015 post):

The project web site actually said that the project was “In full conformance with zoning and all goals of the Peninsula Community Plan. I will say that the Peninsula Community Planning Board did not agree.

This project was appealed at each level and none of the appeals were successful. This overly dense project will dump most of the traffic onto dead end Whittier St. with the only exit being Famosa Blvd between Voltaire and Nimitz. We showed the city that the Level of Service (LOS) for Famosa was the lowest possible grade; the street was way beyond capacity. This fell on deaf ears. Traffic will also come in and out of Voltaire just east of Catalina, another street with a very low LOS rating. Also fell on deaf ears.

I spent several days taking pictures of backed up traffic on Voltaire, Catalina, and Famosa and presented this in a Power Point presentation to the city to no avail. … We pointed out that there were several developments planned for these same blocks, another only slightly smaller one was approved across the street from this one. We asked the city to do a comprehensive traffic study to take in all the proposed projects. Nothing.

But, the developer, Mike Stevens, said he was putting in bike racks and everyone thought that was just swell. Brace yourselves everyone who uses this intersection, it’s going to get a lot worse.

PL Up Volt 83016 stvue2Another commenter back in April 2015 had this to say about the traffic:

This is going to be a disaster for the neighborhood. The only street access will be through two of the most congested streets in the neighborhood: Famosa at Whittier and Voltaire at San Clemente. I cannot imagine any changes to these streets to ease access to these units that would not make the congestion even worse.

PL Up Volt 83016 fencePipe

Whittier has a stop sign at Famosa/Catalina. That stretch of Famosa and Catalina between Nimitz and Voltaire is a main access road in and out of Point Loma for residents and commuters. Traffic already backs up from the light at Voltaire and down the exit ramp from Nimitz. Drivers turning left from Whittier Street have the lowest right-of-way at that intersection.

There is currently a center island on Voltaire at the proposed driveway location, so the driveway could only be entered from or exited to westbound Voltaire. If that island were to be removed, good luck turning left at rush hour. During the afternoon rush hour, traffic on westbound Voltaire backs up through the light at Wabaska and across the bridge over Nimitz. The light at Wabaska turns green and there is no place to go. That is partly because Voltaire narrows down from two lanes to one approaching Catalina. It is also because there are just too many cars and not enough road to handle them. …

It seems like developers are hell bent on turning Voltaire Street into a narrow canyon with 30 foot vertical walls on both sides, and traffic at a standstill. In keeping with tradition, our city government gives its rubber stamp to the whims of developers, regardless of the effects on the community.

PL Up Volt 83016 sign

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Geoff Page September 1, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Tuesday morning I was in my van driving my dogs over to the Little League ball field at 7:30 a.m. I was in the left turn lane facing east to turn north toward Nimitz. Famosa was backed up completely and I sat and sat and sat until the green arrow disappeared and I could not turn. I waited to see if I could turn eventually on the yellow. No luck. I ended up driving east on Voltaire to the road next to Stumps taking the long way around past the new retaining wall at Correia and back to the entrance to the park that I was only a few hundred feet away from at the light, just to get into the park. This is before these units are built. How will anyone get out onto Famosa when they are done? Stevens said there would be signage painted on the road that would say “Do Not Block Intersection.” It is already illegal thing to block the intersection but few people honor that. So, even if people respect that signage, maybe one car will be able to exit Whittier for each movement of traffic. No, instead, they will all try to get out on Voltaire and that is no better.

We tried to get the developer to make an entrance and exit on Nimitz because they were excavating down to Nimitz from the top of the lot but we were told that wasn’t feasible. That would have solved the problem we will all be facing. This developer does not care about that neighborhood. We originally asked them to scale down the project and just build on the existing lot instead of doing all the excavation just to accommodate lots of parking for 28 units but got nowhere. If the other two projects go, good luck to anyone using this intersection. The “traffic study” originally provided was not a real study but the city agreed to it. When this project restarted, I contacted the city and asked if they were going to make the developer do another study because the existing one was NINE YEARS OLD. City said no.

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avatar Debbie September 5, 2016 at 12:33 am

I thought diagonal parking was previously declined/prohibited for the bridge. It appears the issue of parking has risen from the grave.

Is the discussion/wish for diagonal parking for Voltaire Bridge to be backed in and how would that impact safety and traffic in this area? Also, how can Safe Routes to School funds be used for parking “to create more spaces for the benefit of merchants and condo residents.”? The 9/1/16 Beacons article on page 17 “Turning Wabaska into a safe route to school; Voltaire Bridge to receive improvements is below.”

” In the view of civic activists the Wabaska project, whose vision is to convert Wabaska Drive in Point Loma as part of a Safe Route to Schools Corridor, is nearing “critical mass.”

“Wabaska Drive is an important Safe Routes to Schools corridor that will connect bike paths on both Voltaire Street and Nimitz Boulevard,” noted Nicole Burgess, City Council District 2’s bicycling representative. “We are proposing a separated, safe and comfortable bike path that is feasible with the excessive roadway space.

Ultimately, we are hopeful that the improvements will encourage more students and residents to enjoy our city by bike.”

Don Sevrens, a Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB) member speaking on his own behalf, believes the project holds much possibility for community improvement. Sevrens noted the project intends to shrink Wabaska to two traffic lanes, add a bike path and landscaped traffic buffer, as well as diagonal parking “to create more spaces for the benefit of merchants and condo residents.”

“We’d like to get SDG&E to add sidewalk along their property (on a safe routes to school street) and landscaping to hide (their) ugly substation once remodeling is finished,” Sevrens said. The Wabaska project also entails improvements to Voltaire Bridge, which is to be remodeled and brought up-to-date and meet current safety standards.

Sevrens noted residents want more done than what the city’s proposed. “The ask is for more than the drab concrete base and chain-link fence railing the city wants to do,” he said asking, “Why not something decorative on a key entryway to Point Loma?” Sevrens pointed out the time to fine-tune the project is drawing to a close. “The clock is at 11:45 now, and community advocates are trying to pull off modest railing improvements,” he said adding, “Actual repairs are in the project budget.”

Sevrens noted that, once the city starts resurfacing part of Wabaska, “some steps become less likely or certainly more expensive.” A ‘landmark’ repaired bridge, Sevrens added, “could jump-start long-planned street trees, decorative lamp posts and more.”

In a sweeping effort to get more children walking and bicycling to schools across America, Congress approved Safe Routes to School initiatives in the early 2000s. From 2005 to 2012, that program provided more than $1 billion in funding in all states to support infrastructure improvements and programming to make it safer for children to walk and bicycle to and from school.

The purposes of Safe Routes to School include enabling and encouraging children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school; to make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthful and active lifestyle from an early age; and to facilitate the planning, development and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.

Safe Routes to School funds may be used for the planning, design and construction of projects that will substantially improve the ability of students to walk and bicycle to school, including sidewalks improvement, traffic calming, speed reduction improvements, street crossings, on-street bicycle facilities, off-street bicycle and pedestrian facilities, secure bicycle parking and traffic diversion improvements in the vicinity of schools.

“This can be a win-win for all. With public support it is so easy,” said Jon linney, chair of the PCPB.

Read more: San Diego Community News Group – Turning Wabaska into a safe route to school Voltaire Bridge to receive improvements

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avatar Bettina Sy September 7, 2017 at 4:00 am

Government should give priority about that issue…lanes should be constructed

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