How to Destroy Mission Valley

by on October 16, 2014 · 100 comments

in Civil Rights

Doug Manchester’s proposed development at the site of the current U-T building.

By Frank Gormlie

If you want to destroy Mission Valley, what’s coming down the development pipeline will surely do it for you. There are four massive residential and commercial projects and another giant handful of minor ones- all in various stages of blueprints, planning and construction  – heading for this landmark river canyon. If all are built – the total impact would permanently damage Mission Valley to the point where the Valley that we now know would no longer be there.

Some old-timers believe Mission Valley was destroyed a long time ago, when it was a long, lush valley of dairy farms and agricultural fields. Then the hotels, resorts, golf courses and freeways came and Mission Valley lost its beauty, serenity, and its soul.

Ironically then, there’s also another group of “old-timers” – a special group – a group of Mission Valley landowning families – who have their own plans to develop and damage the Valley even further.

But despite all their fancy drawings and brochures, and high-priced architects, the developers could very well ignite a backlash against their projects, a backlash that could possibly stall some of the damage and destruction, a backlash made up of a possible combination of Mission Valley residents, local ecologists, naturalists and San Diegans with common sense. This potential conflict over the future of Mission Valley development is only in the ether right now. But this is not the first time there has been conflict over Mission Valley and what direction it should take.

In fact, back in the late 1950’s – there was a virtual battle going on over the Valley by two different warring camps of the establishment, different factions of the privileged elite, each with their own development agendas. Noted urbanologist Mike Davis, devotes an entire subsection entitled the “Battle of Mission Valley” in his colloborative book Under the Perfect Sun.

Mission Valley farms

Mission Valley. Special Collection, San Diego Public Library

Davis recounts how in the Fifties, Mission Valley was still a “magnificent natural ecology” and “constituted an exceptional open space corridor” along with what was then Mission Bay. As San Diego expanded, “the [San Diego] river, its valley and estuary lagoon, were the green commons around which might still cohere a metropolis of genuine beauty”. But, he explains:

“… Mission Valley was terrain for some of the most bitter civic divisions in a generation.”

Once the valley was saved from future flooding by the construction of dams up the river, it was clear that more than dairy farms, alfalfa fields and sand-gravel mining pits could survive. And with the construction of I-8, Mission Valley’s commercial potential was tremendously enhanced.

Then the developments began. Developer C.J. Brown was first and he was able to build a “private club” in the western end of the valley, called the Town and Country Hotel and Resort. Soon after, the Brown family opened other inns and golf resorts which eventually became known as “Hotel Circle”. Davis adds:

Brown had broken the zoning dike preserving the open space of the valley, and further breaches were opened by Roscoe Hazard when he ignored zoning to expand his brickyard, and by C. Arnholt Smith when he persuaded the city council in 1957 to let him move the Padres from harborfront Lane Field to a stadium across from his friend Hazard’s brickyard. (Later Smith would join forces with Ernest Hahn to redevelop the stadium into trendy Fashion Valley Mall.)

The Browns, the Hazards, the Hahns represented the “new money” of San Diego’s elites. They had a separate agenda than the older network of wealthy families who had been running the city, like the Jessops and the Marstons – whose wealth came mainly from downtown retail, real estate and banking. The old money wanted to focus any redevelopment on the downtown area, a new convention center, a new trendy mall.

The conflict all came down to a number of City Council meetings in June of 1958 during which the warring factions of the elites each made their case to the politicians.

mission valley aerialThere’s no secret which side won. Drive through Mission Valley as many of us do on a daily basis and you can tell. Mike Davis describes it:

Concrete commercial sprawl and huge interstate freeway exchanges engulfed the greenest parts of the valley while the oldest developed portion, the motel and resort strip west of Texas Street, slowly lapsed into a tawdry decrepitude.

In the 1970s, “progressive” planning added intensive residential development as well, but with no schools, libraries, or (until relatively late) supermarkets, so that only childless people need to apply.

So, if Mission Valley is already “destroyed”, what more can damage it?

Plenty, and this very special group of “old-timers” is about to do that very thing – further destroy Mission Valley. This group is not an actual organization but more of a network of similarly situated property-owning wealthy families made of some of the very descendents of the San Diegans who’ve owned major parcels of Mission Valley, such as the Browns – the same Browns who opened the first hotel -, the Cushmans, and the Grants. Each family has their own plans and financial partners.

Still, many San Diegans never knew a Mission Valley as the old-timers picture it, and have taken for granted its development, the malls, movie theaters, restaurants, office buildings, stadium, parking lots, trolley, river, condos, apartments and horrible traffic.

People really never used to live in Mission Valley, as the old-timers knew it – sure, a few did, there were a few houses here and there throughout the valley, but not the thousands that live there now. It’s estimated that Mission Valley now has about 20,000 residents living in roughly 12,000 residential units. This is the modern reality of San Diego’s longest and most central valley.

So, if you think – like most of us – that Mission Valley has not already been destroyed but simply developed in a naturally-occurring capitalist way, then wait till you hear the details …

These four major development projects along with the “minor” ones, all slated for Mission Valley – in the pipeline – with one already being developed – will actually destroy what’s left of the Valley.

If all the units and commercial projects are built that are being currently planned, they will double the population of Mission Valley and double the number of residential units.  There will be 40,000 residents living in 24,000 units.

Here, then, is a brief breakdown of the top major projects, coming down or already here:

Levi-Cushman family and Related California project: 4,000 apartments and condos planned for a $2 Billion project at the west end of Mission Valley, at the current location of the Riverwalk Golf Club course, very near Fashion Valley.

Mission Valley Riverwalk Devmt phaseThe first phase of the 20-year plan includes 3,000 homes in 3 and 4 story buildings on 65 acres between Friars Road and the San Diego Trolley line. Phase No. 2 has 1,000 units in 2 – 3 story buildings on 35 acres. And finally, the 3rd phase includes the construction of 30 acres of commercial and mixed-use – which may include a hotel. They do plan a park, one for both sides of the San Diego River that totals 70 acres.

One of the developers of this project gushed:

“There aren’t too many 200-acre sites in coastal California left, much less that have a river running through it and also mass transit.”

Atlas Hotels and Lowe Enterprises: Right across the street from the current golf course – and probable future of the Cushman project – is the old, historic Town & Country Hotel that C.J. Brown built, sitting there with 950 hotel rooms and 200,000 square feet of convention and meeting space. The site is up for some serious renovation as Atlas Hotels – owned by the Brown family – and Lowe Enterprises have partnered to do a make-over. Their plans include multi-family housing and maybe a new hotel.

Civita – Grant family and Sudberry Properties: this is the largest project – formerly called the Quarry Falls Community – a $2 Billion master planned “village” on 230 acres – with much of it is already underway.

Artist rendering of Civita’s “urban village”.

When completed, it will include nearly 5,000 residential units – with 478 being affordable, one million square feet of commercial space – split into retail and office, a 19 acre park and 40 or so acres of “open space” – all on top of the old rock quarry that the Grant family operated since the 1930s.

Mission Valley Civita Lucent

Units for sale in Civita.

Developers first broke ground in 2010, the first homes were occupied a year later. And during the first half of 2014, 105 homes were reportedly sold. Everybody cites the innovation, the contemporary architecture, the “urban village” design of Civita, – why it even already has its own wikipedia page.

Doug Manchester’s luxury housing and commercial project: this is one of the most significant of the new developments coming down the pipeline. Whether Manchester sells or hands over the U-T San Diego newspaper to somebody else or not, he will still retain the property the business office and parking lot are on. And he has big plans for the site.

Scaled down from its original outrageous design (which included a 22-story tower and a 10-story office building), the current blue-prints call for a bulky and massive mid-rise residential structure with hundreds of residential units where the parking lot is now near the San Diego River. The residential structure steps down from 7 stories at the south end to 2 stories at the north end, with parking included on the first two levels.

Mission Valley Manchester aptproj

East side of Manchester’s project.

The development for the near 13 acre site also includes 243,700 square feet of office space, 5,000 for restaurants, and nearly 6,800 for retail. The current plan also includes a whopping eight-tenths of an acre for a park along the river.

If you think this project will never be built, think again. Manchester now has his man on the San Diego Planning Commission with Mayor Faulconer’s appointment of Doug Austin. Before he took his chair on the powerful Commission, Austin had been hired by Manchester to be his chief architect for the Mission Valley project.

Manchester’s project will be massive, but only includes less than 1 acre for a park along the San Diego River.

Manchester has more going for him. Perry Dealy, who works for him as a consulting development manager in his Manchester Financial Group, is on the Mission Valley planning group. Coincidentally, there’s also a Grant and a Brown on the same planning committee.

The Minor Projects

As noted, there are other projects coming to Mission Valley and they include these:

  • The Hazard Center – two high-rise towers with nearly 500 units – by Oliver-McMillan;
  • Morris Cerullo’s 18-acre Mission Valley Resort;
  • The Dinerstein 291-unit apartment project at the former Bob Baker car lot;
  • Marriot Residence Inn on the former El Torito site.

Notice quickly that there is no mention of Qualcomm, the current stadium site. Developers  have been licking their chops over that parcel for years.

Now, of course, these projects will not be constructed at the same time, and many of them have multiple phases slated over the next 20 years or so. But still, if built, there will be double the number of current residents in Mission Valley.

If the Riverwalk golf course is taken over by nearly 5,000 units, if the development Civita is completed, if Doug Manchester’s mixed-use project is built, if the Town & Country renovation takes off, if Hazard Center is turned into two high-rise towers, then what’s left of Mission Valley would have been destroyed – and it would have been destroyed in order to save it – save it for the developers.

How, you ask, can Mission Valley actually be further destroyed?

Without dealing with the issue of water – like where is it all coming from, and apart from the doubling of the population and number of apartments, condos and other units, there are the huge and breaking strains on the infrastructure and immediate environment.

Mission Valley duskTraffic will more than double, as with all the commercial expansions, many more vehicle-trips will be seen. All spinoff pollution will engulf the residents and ecology. Sure, the trolley is there, and the freeways are close, but there’s already talk of having to reconfigure the major freeway interchanges in the Valley, the 163 and the 805.

Not being discussed fully is the total lack of infrastructure for another 12,000 residential units. There are no public schools in Mission Valley, maybe one fire station, one library, no police stations, no non-profit medical clinics. Even on the private side, no local markets to grab a carton of milk or baby diapers or a pack of smokes. There’s hardly any gas stations.

There’s a serious lack of public facilities now for the current residents, and the emphasis on them in the blueprints, drawings, plans, presentations for these future projects is woefully inadequate and understated.  This is not surprising because San Diego is notorious for historically not preparing adequate infrastructure for future needs. This historic trend includes the days during World War II when San Diego’s sewer system was so bad – it emptied into San Diego Bay – that the Navy had to step in and deal with it. It includes the absence of public facilities in San Diego’s mid-city during the 1990s. And it includes Mission Valley right now, today.

The entire Mission Valley of today is built around the automobile. Yes, some of the projects are designed to be “walkable” and have plans to build parks (Manchester wants to build .8 acre park), and Civita is installing a park, but from the past experiences of San Diego developers, parks are the last things built – if ever (thinking of Liberty Station here).

So, if these massive projects are built, then Mission Valley will continue on its path of destruction. The Mission Valley projects – fueled by property-owning families cashing in on the economic upswing – will alter forever the place – and what future generations of San Diegans will come to know as Mission Valley will not be the Mission Valley that we know  today.

If there is a backlash against the developments, then there needs to be a discussion about the problems and options and what’s to be done. So, let part of that discussion begin here and now.

Sources:
From U-T San Diego By Roger Showley
From SD Daily Transcript By Alan Nevin
From wikipedia
From Mission Valley News by Jeremy Ogul
From San Diego Reader by Matt Potter
From San Diego Reader by Matt Potter
Under the Perfect Sun – The San Diego Tourists Never See, by Mike Davis, Kelly Mayhew and Jim Miller

{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori Saldaña October 16, 2014 at 9:45 am

Thank you a Frank. This is a wonderfully researched report on our embattled open spaces.

I’m still amazed at how a region’s primary water supply can be so cavalierly destroyed. The original settlers and residents of this area lived here because of the fresh water in the river. It was that water that made life possible.

Now, the water is a backdrop for massive development, too contaminated to drink.

Whatever happened to the San Diego River conservation organizations? Unfortunately, I think they accept a lot of development money to fund their own operations.

Is There still a state Conservancy around to battle these plans?

Again, I believe it was created but never fully funded. I met with the executive director when I was in the legislature. It’s very difficult to operate a conservancy effectively in such an urbanized environment.

One last thing: I’m old enough to remember a much more bucolic Mission Valley. There were still remnants of dairy farms into the 70s, and even a small park with ponies for kids to ride just off Texas Street back in the 60s. As with much of San Diego the majority of residents are relative newcomers. They don’t realize we’ve paved paradise and put up parking lots.

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Matthew October 16, 2014 at 2:54 pm

You should quote that last line to Counting Crows before using such a cliche. And what open space is being batted over? A golf course, which uses a ridiculously high amount of water for the pleasure of a small group of people? A parking lot at the UT site? An old, rotting boat and car dealership? An abandoned quarry? Oh yes, lets save these valued public spaces for future generation!

It’s nice that you remember the “bucolic” Mission Valley, because I’m sure you were around when the greater anti-growth movement ended up destroying it by preventing necessary development in the urban enclaves, which perpetuated the necessity to put growth elsewhere (i.e. in the valley). The valley was ruined decades ago, so let’s not pretend that stopping all development now is going to somehow magically fix the mistakes of the past. The only productive measures we can take are to improve upon the urban setting (yes, it is an urban community now, no matter how many fond memories of ponies you have) by promoting more walk-able, sustainable neighborhoods with necessary infrastructure upgrades. Doing nothing is not something. Fighting change is not productive. Complaining about the good old days while ignoring the needs of your children and grandchildren is an embarrassing mistake.

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Dorothy Lee October 16, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Matthew, Cliche-man…Don’t it always seem to go?

Your harsh tone, aura of superiority, and vitriol are bad enough, but your failure to even fact-check is a worse indicator of what you are about: Joni Mitchell released “Big Yellow Taxi” in May 1970. Dylan first covered it in June of that year.

Counting Crows’ first album was in 1991.

I heard “Ladies of the Canyon” when it was released. You probably weren’t born yet, and it seems that you weren’t later born owning the concept of respectful argument.

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Matthew October 16, 2014 at 9:52 pm

I stand corrected Ms. Lee. I shall tip my hat to you, and your superior knowledge (and age).

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Tyler October 16, 2014 at 10:31 am

Tough issue for me. Mission Valley is quite frankly an ugly eyesore that sticks out because it’s essentially center of San Diego geographically speaking. Such a lack of foresight or taste by developers decades ago. Always seemed stupid to me to have hotels next to an interstate and automalls. What a terrible way to frame tourism. The article brings up great points about increased density and the problems that arise. However, without any change at all I see commerce/industry further destroying the conservation efforts of the river and it’s surroundings.

How is the city dealing with the Civita development in regards to schools? I used to work essentially across the street from this development and was worried about increased traffic but it never really came. The development was placed well in terms of accessibility to grocery stores/shopping.

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 10:51 am

Frank, I kept waiting for the part where you suggest this much-needed housing should go instead of Mission Valley, but it never appeared. Nor was there any mention of the San Diego River Foundation and the positive impact they’re having. We’ve seen the result of preventing transit-oriented development in central San Diego: the environmentally-damaging sprawl that stretches well into our backcountry and Riverside County.

With SANDAG estimating 330,000 housing units needed in San Diego by 2050, much of it for our huge millennial population that’s already here (and already using the water in their parents’ houses), distant sprawl will only worsen under your vision. This results in longer commutes, more VMT, more air pollution, more carbon emissions, more damage to sensitive habitat, and more intensive resource use – including water.

Mission Valley is one of the few areas left in our city that hasn’t instituted unreasonable height limits, a strong contributor to San Diego’s housing unaffordability. Instead of fighting inevitable development there, let’s require the developers to make it as transit-oriented as possible, and fund alternate transit improvements (like the Texas St. bike lane Civita built, which I use). If I recall correctly, one or two new trolley stations are planned as part of the Cushman project.

Alliances are being formed between environmentalists and developers to provide the housing needed for younger Americans (http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/10/seattle-micro-housing-boom-111874.html) , while minimizing the environmental impact of sprawl. Sadly, much of your generation remains in their cars, obsessed with traffic and parking, and massively out of touch with the needs of younger San Diegans After all, you’ve already secured your piece of paradise – no matter that your kids can’t afford to live here.

Younger San Diegans are leaving in droves. Our middle class continues to dwindle due to our 4th-highest in the nation unaffordability. And yet you keep pumping out evil developer, anti-housing pieces here on OB Rag while offering zero constructive alternatives. What happens to our city’s economy when companies leave San Diego because only wealthy older folks can live here?

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Matthew October 16, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Paul, you should stop using facts. This isn’t the kind of crowd that relies on things such as “statistics” or “expert analysis.” Empathy won’t work either, because if they could afford San Diego in 1968, everyone else should be able to in 2014 just fine!

Plus, I’m sure you’re just a “shrill” for developers, obviously, because who in their right mind would side with evil people who want to build more homes for people? The outrage!

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie October 16, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Paul – one word: water. Where is all the water for all these thousands of homes, properties and businesses going to come from?

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 4:50 pm

As I said, many of the future residents of these developments are already using water, in their parents homes – San Diego has one of the largest millennial populations in the country. Your vision would push them out to single family housing in Riverside County, where they’ll use more a lot more water per person than in a condominium.

Please, read “Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism” by Ben Ross. There’s a chapter devoted to how damaging liberal NIMBYs have been to our communities. I know from your support of affordable housing and density in Lemon Grove that you’re capable of better than this.

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Matthew October 16, 2014 at 6:06 pm

I’m sure Frank is fine with putting affordable housing and density in Lemon Grove because its not OB or in the immediate area. That’s the problem with NIMBY’s. If they do recognize the problem, they demand it be placed elsewhere, perpetually passing the hot potato and never actually solving anything.

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Actually I was told Frank lives in Lemon Grove now. Perhaps because Ocean Beach is too expensive?

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Seth October 16, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Agree with some of the rebuttals here, but are we really saying that OB and other beach communities aren’t dense enough? Because I kind of feel like that’s not the problem here. Regional growth will happen and needs to be managed. A good place to start would be by bringing other areas up to the levels of density that most of the beach communities have been at for 50-100 years now.

My problem with these developments has little to do with density or displacing a “bucolic” area that was already erased decades ago. I just find the projects themselves to be horrible. It’s as if Orange County invaded that whole area.

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Shelly Schwartlander October 16, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Paul addresses plenty here that truly makes San Diego so difficult for residents and has gotten worse just in the years I’ve lived here–’89 to now–in lack of or diminishing public transit, rental and other property, middle to high paying jobs, resources and tax base. After moving here from SF where there is rent control, high paying jobs and excellent public transit San Diego was a shock. It seemed to take too long to get from OB to downtown which is only maybe 7 miles. Once buses were diverted to Old Town, travel time doubled and it gets worse and worse. I’m fortunate to have missed the high rent as I bought my condo in ’91, but I’m lucky I didn’t have a heart attack over the stupid, slow, expensive and undependable transit. I retired.

Paul is right though about young people and most workers here who have their years of work ahead of them and no affordable housing or decent community opportunity that they can afford or even consider here. I mean its as if they are growing up in the middle of Alaska or Maine, places where young people grow up and go away forever. I’m amazed at how many adults, even near retirement age, are living together in apartments again, like college kids. Once people in San Diego get tired of paying the highest rents and getting the lowest pay (as is the case) in California, and they finally move out of state where their money goes, sometimes, twice as far, they don’t come back. Really! So, Liberty Station and any other new developments that promised some affordable housing didn’t produce that, and no matter how congested Mission Valley might become, it must happen, if it is believable this population will continue and grow. I don’t believe it will. I don’t see what will maintain, let alone grow population here. But at some point, there does have to be a tax base and in such a transient town as this is, more residential units will at least add that.

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Thanks Shelly. Our population growth is largely from within, due to demographics. Here’s more information from SANDAG: http://www.sandag.org/index.asp?projectid=355&fuseaction=projects.detail.

We can shoot the messenger and put our heads in the sand, or we can open our eyes and do something about what our restrictive housing policies are doing to our city: shrinking middle class, hourglass economy, young people leaving, service-based economy. My approach is what other cities are doing: increasing inventory, creating transit-oriented development, and placing strong requirements on developers to fund affordable housing (here that would be the linkage fee & SD affordable housing initiative).

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Louisa October 16, 2014 at 10:53 am

The original plan was wonderful. A huge park and series of open spaces. Bridle paths. Maybe some golf courses.

May Co. and Gray, Carey, Ames and Fry (May Co’s lawyers) fought to have May Co. placed in the middle of Mission Valley. And that was it.

Mission Valley is a mess. Completely ruined. I wouldn’t care what they put in there but for the point of the traffic. The 8 is just about the last freeway that sort of, kind of still works, at least mostly.

I am so tired of this city just going for more and more and more people and buildings and freeways. In exchange for all this “prosperity and growth,” I think we are losing a tremendous amount of the quality of life we used to enjoy here.

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 11:10 am

Louisa, how is San Diego “going for more people”? They already live here – San Diego has one of the largest millennial populations in the country. We have a relatively higher birth rate due to our demographics, but it is going down.

It seems you’re suggesting younger San Diegans, and the companies that need them, should just leave – so you can continue to enjoy water-hungry golf courses (in central San Diego!) and your car-dependent quality of life. Why is that more important than addressing the city’s housing crisis?

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Matthew October 16, 2014 at 6:02 pm

I don’t understand your point. If Mission Valley is already ruined, why can’t development improve upon previous mistakes? If the valley is “ruined” and the quality of life lost, what argument are you making against development now?

And how do you measure the 8 “working” better than the 5 or 15? They’re completely different freeways with completely different users (8 = majority short distance commuters vs. 5/15 = long distance). And I wouldn’t say the 8 is working at 8am westbound, or 5pm eastbound. Or when I have to lunge across 4 lanes to reach my exit.

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Seth October 17, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I think you have it exactly, Louisa, and it is the status quo for how the City views development IMO. Time and again, the economic interests of developers are allowed to run roughshod over everyone else’s, and an undue weight is given to creating profit and tax revenue streams over issues related to quality of life and sound planning.

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paul jamason October 17, 2014 at 12:30 pm

When Civita was forced to give $50 million in infrastructure upgrades to Mission Valley, how was that running roughshod over everyone else? Some of these improvements include bike lanes and sidewalks that I use, and I don’t even live there. This improved my quality of life.

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Seth October 17, 2014 at 1:54 pm

I don’t need to demonize developers here. Someone needs to build it, and they and their economic interests are primary stakeholders in the development process. But a lot of the “concessions” that get made by them are either mandated or parts of negotiations that end up way, way in their favor.

Compared to most other cities, SD is rather pro-development and pro-developer. That should really go without saying, IMO. Worth noting here that many of these boomer activists you are looking down your nose at in this discussion have decades worth of experience and familiarity with this aspect of our city’s government.

On their face and in the aggregate, these projects do appear to me to be developer-friendly. That’s not an inherently bad thing unless it comes at the expense of quality of life, socioeconomic equity, sound planning or any of the other major interests/considerations in the discussion.

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paul jamason October 17, 2014 at 7:34 pm

The projects may be developer friendly now, but instead of throwing up our hands like Frank is doing in this article, lets come up with specific improvements we want implemented. Better to act now than complain later.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Where is your substantiation for this $50 million? So far, all you have provided was a letter to the editor by a VP for the developer. Just because you keep repeating something, that doesn’t make it a fact.

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Live in OB October 16, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Ive noticed someone has already put a private fence acoss from fashion valley mall, next to the golf course on Fashion Valley Road, anyone know whats going on there?
I work at a place on Hotel Circle No. & the golf course is next to our parking lot, when it rains, the whole place gets flooded & the golf course turns into a nice lil pond for the ducks & other wild life!
Cant wair to see the new buildings built & watch them sink!
Side note, has anyone noticed when driving 8 west, right after Taylor street there is a noticeable “bump” its in the 2 left lanes, & I’m waiting for it to open up and swallow anything in its path?!?!

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Matthew October 16, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Here we go again. Does the OB Rag have nothing better to do than grip about change? I understand you’ve locked Ocean Beach into a perpetual 1960’s enclave for octogenarian hippies, but do you have to seek out ways to promote stalling the rest of the city’s necessary growth? My generation has little hope of receiving the opportunities our elders held before us, and now we have to fight tooth and nail for every overpriced apartment listing because of short-sighted and selfish “community leaders” who decided that anything over two stories is a crime against humanity. The OB Rag seems ready to promote anything that keeps the status quo of no-growth and no-change. How does this paper even claim to be progressive with such conservative (and ridiculous) positions?

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie October 16, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Wow! Let me catch my breath!

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie October 16, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Matthew – Don’t know if I can cover all your issues, but as for your suggestion that any and all “change” is by nature a positive thing – in and of itself, I say look at the photo of the old Mission Valley – that could have been a huge Central Park or Golden Gate Park type of area for many generations. So, the Valley did “change” right? Was the change good or positive. If you say ‘yes’, then I’ll stop right now – we’re on 2 different planets.

But if you respond ‘no’ the “change” in Mission Valley over the last 50 years has not been positive, then let’s open up your other issues, as you just proved my point that not all change is positive. So when the OB Rag criticizes certain developments either in housing or politics – that’s not “griping about change”, but pointing out to our readers aspects of life and our environment that they should be aware of – and awareness has to come before action.

As for our “locking OB into a perpetual 1960s enclave for octogenarian hippies”, you fail to understand the essence of OB as a locale that has NOT been overdeveloped yet, and retains its “small town character” despite the onslaught of development around it. It’s this “small town character” that is enormously praised by visitors, tourists, city and government officials. OB is cited as the “model” urban village. Many of our merchants make money from people who come to OB because it is different, bohemian, whatever, and they keep coming back.

The residents, home-owners, merchants revel in what the down home essence means to them. And they do get very protective of hard won victories – that you Matthew and your generation have definitely benefited from. For one, your personal access to the beach, the cliffs, the ocean has been protected by those “octogenarians” and others since who understand what the “commons” means and why the citizens of California own the coast together.

Apartment vacancy goes up and down. For awhile San Diego was losing people. Plus, we’re heard this blame game before, that those who protected the coast in the 1970s are the reason property values – hence rents – are so high. (I wrote a 2-part series about it – start here http://obrag.org/?p=70167 )

Everything over 3 stories (30 feet = 3 stories) is the limit ONLY near the coast – and there’s been plenty of exceptions allowed in. It’s those community leaders who fought tooth and nail for your generation and for future generations in order to get the 30 foot height limit, the Calif Coastal Commission, and other coastal protections.

Your last question makes me think you’re not asking it as a progressive, but as someone who thinks they know what progressive values are. We’re not for the general status quo – we think that there’s too much concentration of wealth in America in the hands of too few – what is it 400 Americans own as much as 180 million? We’re also against the “War on Women”, against white cops shooting Black young men, against nukes, against the reasons for climate change … and it can go on – so your effort to call what this article is all about as “conservative” and “ridiculous” just doesn’t ring true, and you really haven’t thought out your argument.

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 4:42 pm

“Everything over 3 stories (30 feet = 3 stories) is the limit ONLY near the coast”. No.
1) Everything west of I-5 has a 30 foot height limit. That’s far from just “ONLY near the coast”. That’s the entire communities of Coronado, Point Loma, Ocean Beach, Midway, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla
2) Clairemont/Bay Park: 30 foot height limit
3) Old Town: 30′
4) Tierrasanta: 30′
5) Solana Beach: 35′
6) Encinitas: 30′
7) Scripps Ranch: 40′
7) Mission Hills: 50′
8) Hillcrest: 65′

So where do we put the needed 330K housing units, when land is too expensive to develop at those height restrictions? San Diego will add 1.3M people by 2050, but I guess “For awhile San Diego was losing people” is your answer to that.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 16, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Coronado is a city unto itself, it is not part of the city of San Diego. The only codified height limit is Prop D covering the coastal communities, the other height limit areas only have limits in their community plans, which are toothless. But they do show the desire is widespread.

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 6:42 pm

After Hillcrest and Mission Hills put in their height limits via the “Interim” Height Ordinance way back in 2008, all residential development ceased in these central communities well-served by transit. Development never really resumed. Doesn’t sound toothless to me.

In Bay Park, the existing height limit was used to kill development near the forthcoming trolley. Again, not toothless.

I responded with substantiation as you requested in your other comment, but it’s still waiting moderation.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 7:42 am

Mr. Jamason, I will repeat, the community plans are advisory only and have no teeth, I spent several years on a planning board so I have some knowledge of this. Yes, with enough community uproar developments can be halted but without something in the Municipal Code, there is nothing that legally controls height as Prop D did for the coastal areas. A small taste of this are the four two-story units on West Pt. Loma Blvd. that OB fought against and lost. A developer with enough persistence can get a project approved in those areas that does not respoect he height limit, it has already happened in Hillcrest.

And, by the way, if you were to talk to the folks who got Prop D passed, they will tell you they did it for all of San Diego, not just greedy homeowners who have theirs and don’t want anyone else to. Have you ever been to Florida’s coast? It is a tragedy for all Floridians, not just those on the coast. Believe it or not, sometimes people actually have altruistic motives.

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Seth October 17, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Residential development ceased in 2008 in those areas? Do you think it’s possible that had more to do with a historically-large crash of the global market, and specifically the US housing market, rather than a couple of advisory community plans? Just spitballing here.

I’ll leave the Mission Valley part of this debate alone for a minute and just say that you seem to have an underlying assumption that we can build our way out of the demand for housing in SD beach communities, and I definitely do not agree with that.

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paul jamason October 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Why has there been no new residential construction in Hillcrest even after the economic turnaround, while much-needed new housing continues to be built downtown, in Little Italy and in North Park? Because of the interim height ordinance.

I believe that one way to address housing affordability is to increase inventory, based on the basic principle of supply and demand. You appear to be of the “if they can’t afford it, they should leave” mindset I hear from conservatives.

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Seth October 17, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Hillcrest is pretty built out already, as far as I can tell.

The City has worked for decades to do exactly what you are advocating in downtown and East Village, building up, up and away. I’m rooting for them, but they aren’t very good places to live and as far as I understand it, have plenty of vacant units in nearly all of those high-rises.

How affordable are those units, btw? Not very.

Seems to me that there are several places in and around the City that are best suited to take the biggest shares of regional growth going forward. The quality of development proposals aside, we seem to agree that Mission Valley is probably one of them. It is relatively well served by transit/transportation infrastructure, and is in proximity to job and commercial centers.

Is that unfair that places like Mission Valley will take more of the growth than OB or, to a lesser extent, Hillcrest? Maybe, but again, those places are already built out and rather dense themselves.

As to this conservative mindset you are attributing to me, I don’t know what to tell you other than even the most top-down liberal planners/urban designers/smart growth devotees in the most liberal cities in North America promote a transect model in which outlying residential areas decrease in their scale relative to their proximity to urban cores. Both OB and Hillcrest are at a perfectly appropriate scale in this model, IMO.

On a related note, let’s be perfectly clear that similar height restrictions in outlying residential areas exists in basically all of the most liberal cities in America, such as SF, Boston, Portland and even NYC to some extent.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 3:48 pm

The Hillcrest IHO is “interim.” Making it a part of the community plan is one thing but unless it becomes an actual ordinance and part of the Municipal Code, height limits are unenforceable. The only two ways to make it an ordinance are by the City Council passing it or by petition and general election. Chances of a City Council ordinance are extremely thin and even if one were passed, it would probably suffer the same fate as the minimum wage ordinance. It will be interesting to see what will happen once the IHO lapses and the community plan is finished.

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Matthew October 16, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Let me explain this first: The opportunity to make Mission Valley into a greenbelt passed away decades ago. The fact that people keep rehashing that point is ludicrous considering its never coming back. The old picture of the valley is a wonderful postcard from the early 20th century, but it does not reflect the realities of the urban Mission Valley we now face.

Mission Valley is a mess, but there is a glowing opportunity to improve upon the mistakes of the past by advancing sustainable development that promotes alternative transportation use, less car dependency, and new land-uses that bring people closer to job centers and away from the far-flung suburbs and nature preserves. Mission Valley will never become a large public park, but with projects that promote smarter environmentally-friendly land-use policies that also add actual park acreage (70 acres at Cushmann alone!) we can build a better, more sustainable valley floor. That is surely more practical and realistic than musing on what could have been, or allowing these vacant (Civita, Dinersteine) or exclusive (Cushman) parcels to carry on.

I understand that “change” is a scary word given the implications and past precedent, but the screeching warnings from the rag are tiresome given the ignorance of the greater problems in the valley and beyond (environmental degradation, ineffective land-use policy, housing costs, economic stagnation). There can be solutions in new development and redevelopment, and there are serious problems and implications in doing nothing or just scarring people into thinking anything new is only a hindrance or an evil conspiracy from the UT.

And I agree, OB has done an excellent job exasperating our housing crisis to maintain its (um) “funky” character.

The coastal height limit has been no God-send. It’s been a detrimental tool used by privileged property owners to limit the economic mobility of renters, young adults, new families, and their children and grandchildren. It is an economic weapon against the “undesirables,” the people who did not buy in when they had a chance, or do not have the resources to buy in now. It was not an initiative to “save” coastal access for the public, or provide for future generations, if anything, it has done the exact opposite. Your coastal access was saved, mine wasn’t. That’s not a “benefit,” it’s a joke. But hey, I guess I can enjoy some sub-par dinning in OB at least? If I can find parking or if I want to subjugate myself to the terrible transit options.

Apartment vacancies do go up and down, but in San Diego they mainly go up and stay up. Just research the statistics on vacancy rates during this past recession. Rates went up in the downturn, and they -shockingly!- are going up in the upswing. Wow! And as Paul has explained, 1.3 million more people are coming, but I’m sure rates will go down, right? …

The height limits aren’t limited to the coast, research most of the communities in this height-obsessed city; they’ve all enacted similar measures. Even downtown. OB started the trend, we can thank the coast for that added “benefit.”

Development in the valley is happening because its one of the few places its allowed with great burden or opposition. Golden Hill, South Park, Hillcrest, Uptown, OB, PB, Point Loma, Midway, Bay Park, Clairemont, Carmel Valley – these are all places denying greater housing densities and opportunities for growth, even though they have great potential for responsible smart development. Mission Valley isn’t, and now people outside the neighborhood are demanding that it follow the anti-development line? Um, okay, no. These communities are perpetuating the problem, and they are now trying to make it worse for everyone else.

I’m glad you are against the status quo, but the status quo in OB has been to keep what they have regardless of the social and economic costs to the greater community. It’s nice to remember and be nostalgic of the past, and we should preserve some of our history for posterity, but we shouldn’t be demanding that every nook and cranny of our city remain the same (Town and Country is historic?), or exclaiming that development is always an evil and never a solution (typical OBrag hysteria). That limits the future for others, while selfishly enabling the few who enjoy the privileges they have now, and goes against progressive ideals found in today’s discussion on inequality in this country. That’s what is “ridiculous.”

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Matthew October 16, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Correction, paragraph 6: Apartment vacancy rates when DOWN not UP. The average rent went UP, and vacancy rates went DOWN during the recession and into the recovery.

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Seth October 17, 2014 at 1:47 am

OB is not Mission Valley’s problem. Acute development pressures exist everywhere, but the beach communities and downtown are plenty dense already. How about addressing the fact that in most of the city and region, the housing stock is defined by suburban single family dwellings with a lawn, backyard and a 2-car garage?

Also, one of the major assumptions in population projections both locally and nationally is that Latinos will keep having children at their current rate, despite significant economic incentives not to do so. Can’t speak with expertise on that assumptions u, but I know it is a debatable one.

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paul jamason October 20, 2014 at 9:28 am

We’re not the only ones calling you out for your anti-density position, Frank: http://voiceofsandiego.org/2014/10/20/marco-gonzalez-calls-bullshit-on-dense-development-objectors/

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie October 20, 2014 at 10:16 am

Paul – You continue to try to box up my positions as “anti-density”. For one, OB is one of the most dense communities in San Diego. For two, the recent battle (still on-going actually – still have to go in front of the Coastal Com’ish) on the OB Community Plan Update was NOT about density either.

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paul jamason October 20, 2014 at 11:18 am

I didn’t say it was. My main issue is with the coastal height limit. Why not raise it to say, 45′, on commercial corridors only? But I know it will never change.

This Mission Valley article certainly comes off as anti-density. Traffic and preserving a golf course for mostly wealthy players seem to be primary concerns. Instead of writing the easy “developers are evil” articles, why not list specific things you want them do in Mission Valley? I’d love to see the land given to a non-profit developer or the city, but that’s unrealistic.

For example, would you support reducing parking minimums near public transit to increase affordability? Many other cities are doing this. Yet your readership appears to disagree – because parking and traffic are more important to them than providing affordable housing. How about establishing a TOD affordable housing fund like Denver is doing? http://www.urbanlandc.org/denver-transit-oriented-development-fund/

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Seth October 16, 2014 at 11:41 pm

Don’t kid yourself. If you have a hard time affording rent for some of the existing apartment stock in OB, then you sure as hell wouldn’t be able to afford the type of housing that would be built here if developers had their way. Take a drive up to Newport Coast to check the rents in that area, or just about anywhere north of PB, for that matter. Rents don’t go down when you let people build bigger.

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Increasing inventory has no impact on prices? The basic laws of supply and demand don’t apply to housing, apparently.

Here’s an idea to reduce the price of new rentals: don’t require developers to build expensive parking for each unit. Millennials are ditching cars for alternative transit anyway.

I can hear baby boomer heads exploding already, because ample free parking is far more important to them than building affordable housing for their kids.

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Seth October 17, 2014 at 1:24 am

Giving a future vacation rental a 3rd bedroom does nothing to dent the demand for beachfront property in SoCal. If you are talking abolishing the 30 foot height limit and building Miami Beach high-rises, you might be alone in that.

As a former resident of Boston, SF and Vancouver, I am more open to reductions in required parking than most in SD, but without massive improvements in public transportation, that’s a difficult proposition.

Bottom line for me is that OB isn’t broke, so don’t fix it. Planners spend their entire careers trying to help create vibrant, livable places like OB, and it happens rarely when non-organic. If you think that’s what is happening with these Mission Valley projects, have at it.

In sum, appreciate the enthusiasm and agree with some of what you are putting out there (namely, your question about where in SD should the growth actually go), but slow your roll, homie.

Many of these boomer community activists have been pretty central in preserving and promoting the unique and community-oriented character of OB that pretty much everyone who lives here is so fond of, over a period of nearly 50 years. Doesn’t mean they are correct across the board, but let me know when you do better.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 7:47 am

The only ditching of cars for alternative transportation that the “millenials” I see in my area is for Uber and Car-To-Go to avoid driving after drinking. Oh, and these also involve cars. If we had a viable transit system, lots of folks might use it instead of cars but the reality is that people need cars to get to work now. Allowing developers to build more units by not providing parking is surely not a solution. Creating a problem to solve a problem is not the answer.

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paul jamason October 17, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Again Geoff, don’t let the facts get in the way of keeping your head in the sand, and your hands firmly on the steering wheel. Looking forward to your attempt to discredit this report too.”NEW REPORT SHOWS MOUNTING EVIDENCE OF MILLENNIALS’ SHIFT AWAY FROM DRIVING” http://www.uspirg.org/news/usp/new-report-shows-mounting-evidence-millennials%E2%80%99-shift-away-driving

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 4:22 pm

First let me say that you need to learn howto have a discussion without resorting to personal insults, it diminishes what you have to say.

Second, this is the first actual report you have referenced, I haven’t discredited any other reports.

Finally, there is a very important factor that has an effect on young people and cars. My first used car cost $125 and I was able to fix it myself. I learned how to do that working in gas stations. Those jobs disappeared. Today, used cars cost a great deal more and cars are almost impossible to work on without equipment only repair shops can afford. The cost of repairing cars has gone up astronomically. The cost of gasoline has also gone up in the same manner.

As I said before, I have two children who both love to drive, but I am providing vehicles for both of them. My son’s truck had problems that added up to $2600 to fix. I did it myself because my son has never had an opportunity to learn this kind of thing.

Kids today want to, and do, spend their money on other things such as computers, phones, iPads, music, etc., things they can afford. It isn’t that they don’t want to drive, it is that they don’t want to spend their money on a car.

If we produced affordable, reliable cars that got terrific mileage, they would drive more, I assure you. That is happening somewhat and I see plenty of young people who are just as in love with the new, small sporty cars out there as we were growing up.

The final factor is independence. In our day, we craved independence, kids today are not as concerned with that, and as a parent, I’m very happy with that. The two reasons I see for that are that my generation of parents is notas strict and overbearing as ours were, we are more accepting than our parents were. Hell, I fought with mine over the length of my hair. The other reason is that it is not as easy to replicate life at home with the roomy house, big screen TV, cable and internet hook ups, good cars to use, etc. than it was in my day. All we had to do was move out, buy a used car, get a TV that got three channels and we had what our parents had.

You are over-simplyfing.

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paul jamason October 17, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Younger people driving less and seeking alternative transit is a well-established trend with loads of evidence (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/01/social-media-driving-millennials/2898093/). Much of your generation is unable to comprehend this change because they’ve always traveled exclusively by car, and continue to obsess over parking and traffic as reasons to limit development. I bike, take the bus and drive, and have reduced my annual mileage by half. Public transit is improving with the debut of the Rapid bus routes.

Even our Republican mayor has signed on to a climate change plan that has a goal of 43% non-auto travel mode share mode in parts of San Diego by 2035. It’s odd that you still want young people to drive more – this is a liberal site that supports action on climate change, correct?

Please, read up on this trend. I’d be happy to continue the conversation when you have more to offer than anecdotal evidence.

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Geoff Page October 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Did you read the whole USA article you provided a link for? Near the bottom they quote a conflicting report that attributes the change to the economy. Not convincing substantiation.

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paul jamason October 20, 2014 at 9:26 am

I give you credit Geoff, for your ability to claim “unsubstantiated” while offering no evidence to the contrary. Meanwhile others are beginning to call out folks like yourself:

http://voiceofsandiego.org/2014/10/20/marco-gonzalez-calls-bullshit-on-dense-development-objectors/

“But I’ll tell you what has been astounding to me. It is that, the “community character” argument is the most powerful sword being thrown up by communities who really don’t want brown people, who really don’t want poor people, who really don’t want to see a development come into their neighborhood because they’ve got theirs, and they don’t care if someone else can’t get the same thing. They don’t want old people to have a place to retire, they don’t want young people to have a place to live near the coast.”

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 20, 2014 at 11:09 am

My reply to this is to use the same terminology that Gonzalez used – bullshit. People who are in opposition to overly dense projects are just trying to preserve a quality of life that they have instead of watching it be overrun by too many people for the streets and infrastructure that exist. Developers aren’t knocking down doors to place affordable developments in National City or San Ysidro, they want to build in neighborhoods where people have the most money. How many affordable units were included in the Mission Valley projects? Frank said 478 for the 5,000 unit Civita project. What about the others? What exactly is the affordable pricing? Most of the time what is called affordable is really not at all.

In my neighborhood, a new “mixed-use” development is being built, condos with retail below. They are advertising the units “from the low $500s” for condos with no amenities built on a site that used to house a gas station. These units won’t do anything for the groups this guy is saying we are against.

If you actually believe that we don’t care about the young or the old, then you haven’t walked the earth long enough to even have an opinion.

Marc Snelling Marc Snelling October 20, 2014 at 2:19 pm

I’m a young Gen X’er not far from being a millenial and I don’t see what your points add up to here. If more density is the simple solution here than why does downtown/east village have vacant properties? Nowhere in San Diego is more central, has taller buildings, and is closer to transit than downtown. So why are millenials not filling these units? If it isn’t working downtown why would it work in Mission Valley were it is even harder to walk /drive to the places people need to go.

Your community character argument is the opposite of what I have seen. Most calls to preserve character are aimed at keeping the communities diverse and distinct. BS indeed.

Mission Valley is unique in that it has the region’s main river. Back in my planinng days we talked about San Antonio and it’s riverwalk as a model for San Diego. The San Diego River front is very poorly utilized in comparison. You can’t even bike from OB to the Mission without muddy crossings under the bridge near Fashion Valley or braving traffic on Friars. Where is the public access along the Riverwalk Golf Course that was supposed to be there all along?

OB’s oppostion to buildings higher than 30 feet came when developers submitted plans to build a jetty, marina, and Miami Beach-style buildings at the coast. It isn’t hyperbole. The history is here on this site to read.

Stucky December 24, 2014 at 10:03 am

Paul: The coastal height limit has kept the California coast from looking like Miami beach. Without it there would be a giant wall of 40 story buildings occupied by the very wealthy and blocking the entire coast.

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paul jamason December 27, 2014 at 3:37 pm

LOL, yes – increasing the height limit to say, 45 or 60′ would result in the 500’+ buildings of Miami Beach, according to those here. I’m curious how areas like the Midway District that fall under the coastal height limit (west of I-5) are in any way “coastal”.

Meanwhile the height limit prevents the kind of development that would make Midway a place to live in, rather than just pass through. The OB folks prefer to keep it as the latter.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 16, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Very nicely done, Frank, this is one of the things the OB Rag does best, provide information and history.

As for Mr. Jamason… No article can contain everything, this article described upcoming developments and the effect they will have on Mission Valley. Why does the article need to explore where to put housing also?

You make some large leaps of logic in what you say. The “sprawl” you mention is not the result of “preventing transit oriented development in central San Diego.” Sprawl was the result of cheap and abundant land, cars, and people not wanting to live in a city environment.
Our “huge millennial population?” What do you mean by huge? “and already using the water in their parents’ houses?” One person using water in a residence compared to a whole new residence is not a reasonable comparison. One person putting dishes in a dishwasher being used by six people is different than one or two people using a dishwasher themselves. Water is a problem for all new development, regardless of type. The other problems you mention need to be addressed but with the progress in automobile engines, the air pollution and carbon emissions from cars, in 50 years will be a fraction of what it is today. And, hopefully by then we will have developed a mass transit system that works.

“Mission Valley is one of the few areas left in our city that hasn’t instituted unreasonable height limits, a strong contributor to San Diego’s housing unaffordability.” What you call unreasonable height limits is the other side trying to preserve some quality of life and that is a valid position someone has to take.

Make developers fund alternate transit improvements? The job of government is to ensure development fees are collected for these things and then actually spend the money on developing these kinds of things instead of building unneeded stadiums and convention center expansions that will never be fully used. Civita funded a bike lane? If that was all Civita had to pony up, they got off really cheap considering the money they are making on that giant development. Is the Cushman project paying for the trolley stations? I seriously doubt it.

“Sadly, much of your generation remains in their cars, obsessed with traffic and parking, and massively out of touch with the needs of younger San Diegans After all, you’ve already secured your piece of paradise – no matter that your kids can’t afford to live here.” This one is just plain naiveté, I’m guessing you are a young person because only a young person would make such a statement. We – those of us who are older – are not obsessed with traffic and parking, who would be? We are trying to deal with the world we live in that began many years ago, before we were born. All of us are struggling with these problems but what comes with the perspective of age is that nothing is black and white and serious change takes time because change can benefit one person and harm another.

And you think we are “massively out of touch with the needs of younger San Diegans?” I have a 25-year-old son and a 21-year-old daughter and I fully disagree. My solution for my children right now is the house I own, many of us have been thinking about this and planning for it.

“Younger San Diegans are leaving in droves.” How about some substantiation for that?

In fact, a great many older citizens are leaving to live in less crowded and less expensive places, which leaves room for the younger generation. Those less expensive places are less expensive because there is little work to be had but are fine for people who move there with money they don’t need to earn there such as pensions and social security.

“Our middle class continues to dwindle due to our 4th-highest in the nation unaffordability.” Once again, a gross over simplification. The causes of the middle class decline are much more serious and insidious that the cost of living in San Diego. The fact that the middle class is declining everywhere is evidence of that.

Massive over development of Mission Valley, that enriches a few wealthy San Diegans, is not the solution to all the problems you have enumerated.

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Substantiation: “Gen X leaving SD, Taking Their Kids”: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/aug/13/report-gen-x-leaving-san-diego-taking-their-kids/

Millennials are leaving SD at 3rd highest rate in nation. Please look at the post-recession rank column at the bottom of this article: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/11/14/millennials-flock-to-washington-after-abandoning-city-in-recession/

San Diego’s huge millennial population: 3rd highest in the country (but leaving fast): http://tcbmag.com/News/Recent-News/2014/June/Twin-Cities-Have-An-Unusually-High-Portion-Of-Mill

You said: “a great many older citizens are leaving to live in less crowded and less expensive places, which leaves room for the younger generation”.

The truth, from U-T article:
“Baby Boomers and retirees arrived in relative droves, with both groups rising in population by more than 15 percent.”

Civita funded much more than a bike lane. They spent $50 million:

http://m.scoopsandiego.com/mobile/mission_valley_news/local_news/letter-to-editor-civita-responds-to-project-criticisms/article_a3afb6b6-6342-11e3-a68c-0019bb30f31a.html

Leaving your home to your children is great. What about those who can’t afford a home – how do they give it to their children? And how does that help them until you pass away? They might be 60 by then.

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 9:59 pm

3) You said: “a great many older citizens are leaving to live in less crowded and less expensive places, which leaves room for the younger generation”.

The truth, from U-T article in #1: “Baby Boomers and retirees arrived in relative droves, with both groups rising in population by more than 15 percent.”

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Trying this again, one link at a time – my earlier comment is still stuck “awaiting moderation”.

1) Substantation re: younger people leaving San Diego:

“Gen X leaving SD, Taking Their Kids”: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/aug/13/report-gen-x-leaving-san-diego-taking-their-kids/

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 8:01 am

You’re cherry-picking, Mr. Jamason. Did you read the whole article?

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 9:58 pm

2) San Diego’s “huge” millennial population: it’s the 3rd highest in the country (but leaving fast): http://tcbmag.com/News/Recent-News/2014/June/Twin-Cities-Have-An-Unusually-High-Portion-Of-Mill

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 8:06 am

Why don’t you help that reporter out and find the source of those facts because the article failed to provide it. And, taking information like that with no consideration of the reasons why isn’t a great idea. Young people love San Diego with its great weather and beaches. I’ve met my share who moved here for those reasons alone and a lot of them eventually return to their hometowns because they miss where they grow up. So find a study that says how many are transients to temper the “facts” you are providing.

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 10:01 pm

3) You said: “a great many older citizens are leaving to live in less crowded and less expensive places, which leaves room for the younger generation”.

The truth, from U-T article:
“Baby Boomers and retirees arrived in relative droves, with both groups rising in population by more than 15 percent.”

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 8:16 am

“The truth” from a UT article. Wow, there’s an oxymoron. The article quotes the National University System Institute for Policy Research. When you go to their website, they have a report but when you hit the link it goes to the UT article. Where’s the research?

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 10:03 pm

4) “Civita funded a bike lane? If that was all Civita had to pony up, they got off really cheap considering the money they are making on that giant development.”

Civita spent $50 million on infrastructure improvements:
http://m.scoopsandiego.com/mobile/mission_valley_news/local_news/letter-to-editor-civita-responds-to-project-criticisms/article_a3afb6b6-6342-11e3-a68c-0019bb30f31a.html

Some of these included amenities to make Mission Valley more pedestrian and bike friendly. How would you pay for these much-needed improvements – by asking San Diegans to pay for them? Good luck.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 8:19 am

This information you took from a letter to the editor from the Vice President of the developer? Once again, how about some specifics and substantiation that Civita paid for all of that.

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 10:08 pm

5) “I have a 25-year-old son and a 21-year-old daughter and I fully disagree. My solution for my children right now is the house I own, many of us have been thinking about this and planning for it.”

What an incredibly sad way to plan for our next generation’s future – by denying them new housing and making them wait until we pass away so they can inherit our homes.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 8:20 am

You make too many leaps in logic, Mr. Jamason. Where did I say my kids had to wait until I died?

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paul jamason October 16, 2014 at 10:15 pm

6) Millennials are leaving SD at 3rd highest rate in nation. Please look at the post-recession rank column at the bottom of this article: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/11/14/millennials-flock-to-washington-after-abandoning-city-in-recession/

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 8:29 am

San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos? What does this statistic show? And, you’re cherry-picking. Look at Birmingham, Hartrord, Boston,Nashville, Philly,, Phoenix…

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paul jamason October 17, 2014 at 10:52 am

If you sort on the rightmost column, you’ll see millennials are leaving San Diego at the 3rd highest rate in the country.

I’ve provided you with facts and you’ve chosen to ignore them. You’ve provided none of your own. I think we’re done here.

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Seth October 17, 2014 at 11:36 am

I think you are ignoring plenty of facts on your own, such as the lack of a diversified economy in SD that provides jobs, or the millennial population being skewed by an inherently transient military population.

To blame it on housing policies, and specifically those in a single square mile of the city is misguided at best, IMO.

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paul jamason October 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm

As younger, skilled workers continue to leave because they can’t afford to live here, that will only worsen the problems with San Diego’s economy that you point out.

I don’t understand the single square mile comment? In nearly every community in San Diego, NIMBYs push back against proposed development and contribute to the city’s unaffordability.

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Seth October 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm

I don’t know where you live, Paul, but there are plenty of Millennials around OB in SD in general. To the extent they are leaving faster than they are being replaced, the top three reasons for that, in no particular order are: jobs, jobs and jobs.

As to my comment point out that 15k people live in roughly 1 square mile here in OB, what’s there to understand? This community is plenty dense already. With 35 years living in Boston/SF/Vancouver, I have a few points of reference to compare that to.

It’s not Miami Beach, and won’t be taking the brunt of the expected regional growth, I get it. Fact is, we already have a disproportionate share of residential density in the region, as well as many of its urban challenges, such as traffic, parking, homeless, you name it.

Turning beach communities like OB into Miami Beach is unfeasible and does very little to address any of the points you are making in this discussion. If you want to call that NIMBYism while ranting against anyone over the age of 30, that’s up to you.

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paul jamason October 17, 2014 at 12:49 pm

I don’t recall criticizing Ocean Beach specifically here, but you’re making quite a leap from a 30 foot height limit to Miami Beach’s 1000 foot height limit. But that’s standard hyperbole from the NIMBY set.

For Ocean Beach, a sensible proposal would be to increase height limits along commercial corridors to 45 or 60 feet. This would permit mixed-use development – new residential housing over ground floor retail. Use developer impact fees to improve the sad state of public transit there. Keep residential street height limits as they are. Of course, this will never happen due to the coastal height limit law.

Glad to hear there are plenty of millennials. How do they afford the $1400/month average rent without help from their parents?

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Seth October 17, 2014 at 1:43 pm

You have repeatedly decried the 30-foot height limit and your perceived NIMBYism of beach communities in this discussion, with a fixation on a generational gulf that is quite frankly a little bizarre.

It should hardly be surprising that the demand for beachfront rentals is high. With that said, one can still find a room to rent in OB for $800-$1,000 dollars. I fail to see how adding a few extra stories of (brand new and non-affordable) residential units on a couple of blocks worth of commercial areas puts much of a dent in that.

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paul jamason October 17, 2014 at 3:56 pm

A couple of blocks? There may only be a couple of commercial streets in OB, but there are plenty of blocks on them.

I fail to see how your approach of prohibiting any new housing in Ocean Beach addresses the problem better than my modest proposal. At least mine would generate developer impact/affordable housing fees.

Seth October 17, 2014 at 4:32 pm

For your comment below, Paul, which the blog will not let me reply to…

How big is this “not in my” backyard you are referring to?

The entire coastal area of SD ,that hundreds of thousands of people already live in, which is already built out and denser than 90% of the city/region that isn’t in the immediate area of downtown – and whose residents have overwhelming supported height restrictions over a 50-year period?

Allow me to tell you something else your proposal would generate, btw. Liability, per deliberately steering development into low-lying coastal areas like Mission Beach and Coronado, that are very likely to be prone to flooding due to expected sea level rises.

Miami Beach and their rather permissive coastal height limit are likely going to take that one right in the face over the next 50-100 years.

Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Well, maybe you’re done, I’m not. You didn’t answer my question about the chart. Why does it show Carlsbad and San Marcos? The table appears to be for areas near large cities not the cities themselves. I looked and can’t find an explanation but the table doesn’t just list major cities. The numbers are very small, hardly significant for a city of 1.356 million as of 2013 so they may only reflect Carlsbad and San Marcos.

The article also said:

“But let’s not get carried away — Millennials aren’t exactly moving that much.”

And:

“The Millennial movement is just a trickle,” Mr. Frey said.

I think your information is seriously flawed.

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paul jamason October 17, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Carlsbad and San Marcos are part of the San Diego metropolitan statistical area.

16,000 may seem like a small number, but it is the third highest millennial percentage that left a metro in the U.S. If your kids were part of that number, it might not seem so small.

San Diego is #1 in the country for people aged 18-34: http://www.sandiegomagazine.com/San-Diego-Magazine/February-2014/20-Reasons-to-Love-San-Diego/

Since SD Magazine didn’t provide a source, I assume you’ll ignore it too, yet not provide any evidence to the contrary.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 3:23 pm

You’re still dodging the question. You believe that San Marcos and Carlsbad are part of the San Diego metropolitan statistical area. First, these are two distinct cities, they are not part of San Diego. Second, what are you using to define the San Diego metropolitan area? Third, why did the study single out those two cities and not mention much larger Chula Vista, Oceanside, or Escondido?

You are using a San Diego Magazine booster article for your facts? Is that the best you can come up with? I haven’t ignored anything, I have simply been trying to get to real facts. It’s not up to me to disprove something that hasn’t been proven, you have made the statements so it is up to you to support them and you haven’t done very well so far. And you’ve ignored the complexity of the issue, just one example being what I said about San Diego’s young population being very transient.

I have lived near the beach my whole time in San Diego, since 1977, and have seen lots of young people come for a while and then leave for two reasons. The first is that it has been hard historically to get a job here because everyone wants to be here. To be permanent has always taken patience. The second reason is homesickness for friends, family, and, a mystery to me, missing seasonal weather.

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paul jamason October 17, 2014 at 3:41 pm

The federal government defines metropolitan statistical areas, from wikipedia:

The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated San Diego County as the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area.

So the entire county is our MSA, not just SD/Carlsbad/SM. It’s just called that.

I was mistaken about Civita’s $50 million contribution to Mission Valley – it’s actually $150 million:

http://www.builderonline.com/land/development/diverse-housing-mix-marks-new-san-diego-community_o

I’m sure you and Frank will still complain that there’s no infrastructure to support new development.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Very good, you provided some reliable information. So the San Diego-Carlsbad -San Marcos title refers to the whole 3.2 million person county. That makes the statistics of millennials leaving seem even smaller than it was when compared with the population of San Diego. And, I thought we were talking about our city. Now we are including 18 cities and a long list of unincorporated areas in the County? This is a bit disingenuous.

And the $150 million figure is no more specific than your $50 million figure and it also comes from a building industry source. Gonna need more than that.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Forgot one thing. Frank is his own man and I am mine, there is no reason to lump us together.

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paul jamason October 17, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Here’s your proof, although I’m sure you’ll discredit this one too. Note that we’re gaining millennials due to demographics, but we’re losing them to out-migration.

http://www.sandiegobusiness.org/sites/default/files/EDC-SnapShot-2014-07.pdf

“(San Diego region) has the highest concentration of 18-34 year olds in the U.S. (among
major metros), and from 2008-2012, the region added more than 64,000 people in this age group.
However, recent data shows that the region may be struggling to keep up with its peers in
attracting and retaining talented people that drive the next generation economy. As illustrated in
Figure 1, San Diego falls behind all of the peer metros shown in growth of its young degree-holding
population. From 2008 to 2012, the region grew by 12.5 percent in terms of 25-34 year olds with at
least a bachelor’s degree. While that growth is positive and outpaces the national average, it falls
well below its Northern California peers and below the growth experienced in places like Portland,
Austin, Seattle and Denver.
Also troublesome, San Diego is losing degree-holders in the 35-54 year old age group, as shown
in Figure 2. While that negative trend is not unlike the rest of California and the U.S. as a whole,
the region’s peers are continuing to add 35-54 year old degree holders. While we do not know for
certain the driving forces behind this trend, the California metros including San Diego remain the
highest priced real estate markets in the country and also have higher costs of living. Therefore, as
people begin to reach the age of desired home-ownership and growing families, we speculate that
many may be priced out of markets like San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco, and instead seek
out more affordable competing markets.
Figure 3 specifically highlights migration flows out of or into San Diego to or from other metro
areas. Most alarming is that the region had a net loss of more than 700 college graduates from
2010 to 2011 due to migration, with losses going to peers like San Francisco, Seattle and Austin.
While the figures aren’t staggering in terms of the amount of people, the negative trend remains
concerning. On a positive note, San Diego had a net gain of college graduates from Denver and San
Jose. The region also had a net gain of advanced degree holders from several peer metros who are
likely attracted to Ph.D. level positions in Life Sciences or Engineering”

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Seth October 17, 2014 at 4:39 pm

“While we do not know for certain the driving forces behind this trend…”.

Yeah, we do. Housing and cost of living are certainly key factors (people want to live at the beach in Socal, imagine that), there are not enough jobs here, specifically white-collar ones. Outside of biotech, the military and tourism (the latter two of which are usually poorly-paying for the rank and file), there is relatively little industry here for a region of this size, and certainly not a particularly diversified economy.

Craft brewing is probably a top 10 industry in this region. What else do you need to know?

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Geoff Page Geoff Page October 17, 2014 at 5:22 pm

All I can say is that what you quoted doesn’t support your dire position at all.

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paul jamason October 17, 2014 at 7:50 pm

All I can say is that 20 comments later, you still haven’t provided anything to support your position, apart from anecdotal evidence.

Geoff Page October 18, 2014 at 1:43 pm

What position? All I’ve been doing is trying to get you to prove yours. All you’ve done is provide information that so me millennials have left, up to 2012 and you’ve that to say we have a disaster on our hands. It isn’t enough.

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paul jamason October 20, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Your position is that millennials aren’t leaving San Diego, and therefore we don’t need to provide any new housing for them.

Since you’re still asking me to prove my point, here’s another (older) article: San Diego is #6 in out-migration of millennials since at least 2005:

http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/up-front/posts/2011/10/28-young-adults-frey

Geoff Page Geoff Page October 20, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Don’t put words in my mouth, I have not said that millennials aren’t leaving or that I didn’t want to provide new housing for them. I’ve been trying to get you to substantiate your claim that they are leaving in droves.

Since you are working so hard on making this case, how about something that shows the population of millennials in San Diego compared to other cities.

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paul jamason October 20, 2014 at 1:50 pm

I don’t understand – didn’t my earlier link show that San Diego has the highest percentage of 18-34 year olds in the country? http://www.sandiegobusiness.org/sites/default/files/EDC-SnapShot-2014-07.pdf

“(San Diego region) has the highest concentration of 18-34 year olds in the U.S. (among
major metros), and from 2008-2012, the region added more than 64,000 people in this age group.”

It’s confusing, but there are two different things going on: 1) We have a huge number of young San Diegans aging into this group. 2) Looking at out vs in-migration *only*, San Diego is among the leading cities losing millennials. Couple that with our large Generation X losses and there’s a real trend going on. Our City San Diego has a good article on that if you don’t believe the Union Tribune (but I can’t post 2 links here without it ending up in “moderation”).

That’s great to hear you support new housing for them. Since Ocean Beach and Mission Valley are out, where should it go?

Geoff Page Geoff Page October 20, 2014 at 2:56 pm

You didn’t provide the wording before what you quoted:

“We also know that the region is attractive to the next wave of
talented individuals. ” Then your quote: “The region has the highest concentration of 18-34 year olds in the U.S. (among major metros), and from 2008-2012, the region added more than 64,000 people in this age group.”

The article did not show where it got its data but let’s assume it’s ok. Then, would it not stand to reason that we might have a larger number of these folks leaving if we have the highest number? Do you recall what I wrote earlier about the patience it takes to finally get a solid foothold in San Diego because of all the competition?

Once again, you are putting words in my mouth. I never said OB or Mission Valley were out. If the people who built that development near my house had proposed affordable apartments, I’m sure there would have been less resistance. There are places in the areas zoned for multiple units that can be improved with more units. As for Mission Valley, I agree with some of the others that this us just too much for an area that has no parks, schools, or other amenities but clearly some more development would be acceptable. And what about, as I said earlier, places like National City or San Ysidro or more downtown as Marc has pointed out?

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Raymond October 16, 2014 at 6:25 pm

I don’t even know where to begin.

First I would like to mention, water is conserved in denser, more urban development. “1.2.2 Low density means more leakage and increases both demand and cost” (http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/pdf/growing_water_use_efficiency.pdf). The preservation of OB’s small town feel is exactly what’s hurting our region the most in this regard. It’s akin to having a basketball team showering in your yard every.single.day (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/californians-becoming-creative-as-drought-dries-out-their-lawns/).

It’s ironic how you seem to be concerned about water-use and ecological “preservation”, when OB, Point Loma, Loma Portal, etc have HUGE lots with lush vegetation, all consuming what little resources we do have. So lush in fact, there’s even a flock of exotic birds enjoying the not-so-native flora in Loma Valley. This isn’t just a Peninsula problem; it afflicts almost all of San Diego’s many neighborhoods and residents.

The same small town feeling is what makes efficient transit an ill investment for the City of San Diego. How do you get around your neighborhood; do you walk, bike or catch the bus to head downhill to OB People; or by chance, do you have a car and feel annoyed that there isn’t a sufficient amount of parking to make your shopping experience easier?

San Diego’s economically mobile neighborhoods are fighting increases in density, smart growth models, and transit enhancements, all in the name of preserving their respective community aesthetics. Community plans should plan for future growth, not push it onto a neighboring community with less political clout. This argument has echoed throughout our history, which is the primary if not secondary reason why Mission Valley was paved in the first place. I cannot sit idly by while the same rhetoric is perpetuated once more.

What is truly being preserved by your methods is our current exponential use of water, encouraging greater amounts of sprawl into open spaces, increasing carbon emissions, forcing citizens to drive (increasing VMT), paving MORE of Mission Valley in order to expand the freeways to provide all these very services.

It’s done. Ponies gone. Lush vegetation replaced with parking lots and consumed by automobiles. It most certainly is a sad state. Yet, I do not hear any solutions as to how to bring back the San Diego River and restore a piece of Mission Valley’s forgotten beauty while planning for a more sustainable, carbon neutral environment/future.

I am in no way advocating for Manchester’s disregard of the San Diego River. I am simply saying that your efforts of “fighting the good fight” could be put to better use. We can have a gorgeous river AND affordable, dense, multi-use buildings with schools, markets, and all other public necessities.

The one image that always seems to come to my mind is the Seine River through Paris (http://www.rsap.eng.vt.edu/vermaaten/pic/journalentries/journalpic/may20pic6.jpg). It would be a wonderful thing to go to dinner by the river by a more efficient trolley; a gorgeous scenery to jog/bike leisurely or for daily commute; take a boat ride down the river to Mission Bay etc. There is so much more that could be done in place of whining and reminiscing of a once green, open valley that will never be again.

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Seth October 17, 2014 at 11:49 am

OB has huge lots? My lot is 25′ x 100′, with two units and a total of 4 bedrooms on it. That’s pretty standard in this community.

I grasp and accept a lot of what you are trying to get at, but you are barking up the wrong tree applying this argument to OB, which is already a pretty dense neighborhood by any standard one could use to measure that.

OB planning area has about 15k residents living in 1 square mile, and that doesn’t even account for the waves of beachgoers and tourists that are here most of the year.

Dealing with the expected regional growth in SD carries with it a host of challenges, opportunities, and quite frankly, problems, but OB is not one of them.

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Raymond October 16, 2014 at 10:14 pm

I guess you and I are in the same boat, Paul. My comment is still awaiting moderation, but let’s see if this attempt is approved:

I don’t even know where to begin.

First I would like to mention, water is conserved in denser, more urban development. “1.2.2 Low density means more leakage and increases both demand and cost” (http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/pdf/growing_water_use_efficiency.pdf). The preservation of OB’s small town feel is exactly what’s hurting our region the most in this regard. It’s akin to having a basketball team showering in your yard every.single.day (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/californians-becoming-creative-as-drought-dries-out-their-lawns/).

It’s ironic how you seem to be concerned about water-use and ecological “preservation”, when OB, Point Loma, Loma Portal, etc have HUGE lots with lush vegetation, all consuming what little resources we do have. So lush in fact, there’s even a flock of exotic birds enjoying the not-so-native flora in Loma Valley. This isn’t just a Peninsula problem; it afflicts almost all of San Diego’s many neighborhoods and residents.

The same small town feeling is what makes efficient transit an ill investment for the City of San Diego. How do you get around your neighborhood; do you walk, bike or catch the bus to head downhill to OB People; or by chance, do you have a car and feel annoyed that there isn’t a sufficient amount of parking to make your shopping experience easier?

San Diego’s economically mobile neighborhoods are fighting increases in density, smart growth models, and transit enhancements, all in the name of preserving their respective community aesthetics. Community plans should plan for future growth, not push it onto a neighboring community with less political clout. This argument has echoed throughout our history, which is the primary if not secondary reason why Mission Valley was paved in the first place. I cannot sit idly by while the same rhetoric is perpetuated once more.

What is truly being preserved by your methods is our current exponential use of water, encouraging greater amounts of sprawl into open spaces, increasing carbon emissions, forcing citizens to drive (increasing VMT), paving MORE of Mission Valley in order to expand the freeways to provide all these very services.

It’s done. Ponies gone. Lush vegetation replaced with parking lots and consumed by automobiles. It most certainly is a sad state. Yet, I do not hear any solutions as to how to bring back the San Diego River and restore a piece of Mission Valley’s forgotten beauty while planning for a more sustainable, carbon neutral environment/future.

I am in no way advocating for Manchester’s disregard of the San Diego River. I am simply saying that your efforts of “fighting the good fight” could be put to better use. We can have a gorgeous river AND affordable, dense, multi-use buildings with schools, markets, and all other public necessities.

The one image that always seems to come to my mind is the Seine River through Paris (http://www.rsap.eng.vt.edu/vermaaten/pic/journalentries/journalpic/may20pic6.jpg). It would be a wonderful thing to go to dinner by the river by a more efficient trolley; a gorgeous scenery to jog/bike leisurely or for daily commute; take a boat ride down the river to Mission Bay etc. There is so much more that could be done in place of whining and reminiscing of a once green, open valley that will never be again.

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Tom Cairns October 16, 2014 at 10:15 pm

In 1971, I did a film of Mission Valley, with all it’s natural beauty. The I5-I8 interchange was under construction. The San Diego River flowed west, and I found some kids floating in a raft, enjoying the day. I realized it was probably the end of it’s natural self. The Ecology Action protest the year before, about the Army Corps of Engineer’s plans for the river channel and jetty was fresh in my mind. Remember, the colonel of the corps of engineers, in Los Angeles, needed the San Diego River project to get his brigadier stars. The plan was to make a concrete channel from about Grantville out to the ocean, (like the Los Angeles River channel), and extend the south jetty all the way out and even with the two existing jetties.. It was a project designed to protect the property owners in Mission Valley from flooding, and reduce their insurance costs. Government in the service of private property.

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Wireless Mike October 17, 2014 at 12:51 am

Much of Mission Valley is in a river flood plain. Whenever there is a substantial rainstorm, streets and buildings get flooded out. (Locals already know that.) Most of El Cajon, Santee and Lakeside drain through Mission Valley to Dog Beach.

Adjacent to Manchester’s property, Fashion Valley Road gets flooded with even a moderate rain. The police are often called to rescue somebody who went around the barricades and got their car stuck in the river. It always makes the news.

Shortly after the parking garages were built at Fashion Valley Mall (near Manchester’s property), the bottom level was flooded by the river and filled with mud.

A coworker of mine was unable to leave his condo near Mission Center Road because the river flooded the only access street. He had recently moved to San Diego and did not know that Mission Valley floods every few years. He moved to higher ground.

Why would anyone build a city in a river bed?

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Robert October 17, 2014 at 2:42 am

Amazing how the main arguments against this are traffic and water.

1.) Traffic: this solution is the lowest traffic option. Either you build dense housing right next to job centers, or you build far away and create long drives (and long traffic queues.)

2.) These condos are the lowest water use solution. Either they use water living in a condo in MV, or they use twice the water in a single family home out in east county.

The opposition to this plan is just the typical “I already got mine, f*** everybody else!” rhetoric.

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Marisa October 20, 2014 at 10:37 am

As usual, the developers will get their way in San Diego. Of that, I am absolutely sure. They always have and always will own City government with little opposition (Mike Aguirre was fantastic).

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Dwe October 26, 2014 at 11:17 pm

We all need to avoid the temptation of looking nostalgically back to the good ol’ days as if San Diego’s best days are behind it. I agree that Mission Valley was poorly designed from the beginning, but I don’t think it is anything to lose sleep over. Water is an issue, but it would be an issue even if all these units were not built. With one desalination plant coming on line next year, and Camp Pendleton getting more serious about an even larger desalination plant, along with San Diegan’s proven track-record of conserving during droughts, the future is not all bleak. I wouldn’t doubt a third desal plant being built somewhere in the south county at some point. Energy for desal can be offset with solar panels. Yes, water will be more expensive, but that’s just because we’ve all paid very little for so long. . Look at the water rates of most developed countries…the US has some of the cheapest water.

Building in Mission Valley is probably the best place to be building in the county considering its proximity to public transit (which will only get better), its existing infrastructure, and its relative proximity to job-centers. It’s certainly better than some god-awful condo out in Carmel Valley or Eastlake (no offense if you live there…I’m sure it’s lovely). But building near public transit is an absolute must in this day and age. Mission Valley is very suited for the automobile, but we’ve barely scratched the surface of what it could mean for the future of public transit in this city.

By the way, SANDAG’s 2050 plan for San Diego calls for a trolley line extending from PB, up through Kearny Mesa and eventually connecting into Mission Valley. If this happens (I believe it will be before 2050 because I think funding will increase…but what do I know), more auto-centric communities will be introduced to mass transit.

Lastly, I do agree that developing the Qualcomm site would be terrible. I envision that becoming an iconic park for our city, but that will probably remain a dream. Considering how the nearby oil tanks have leached in the soil, is that space even able to be developed for residences? Does anyone have information on this? If so, I think a new stadium is the best use for the property. Cost could be offset by selling the Sports Arena ASAP and scraping it (like it should have been years ago) and very modest tax increases (along with pension decreases, as I would have it).

Yes, we need some good urban planners in this city, and for once, their voices need to be heard. We need our green spaces, but we need homes too. The “good times” never really were. Nostalgia is usually just a substitute for dealing with the present issues we can actually address. It never really does anyone any good. We need to learn lessons from the past, and dream about the future, but right now we all need to deal with the current realities and focus on what needs to be done. Go forth!

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paul jamason November 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm

This article neglected to mention the forthcoming San Diego River Discovery Center at Grant Park: http://www.discovertheriver.org/

Significant funding from Sudberry developers.

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