Controversial Proposal to Allow More High-Rise, ADUs, and One-Mile Distance Transit Stops Heads to Full City Council

by on January 13, 2023 · 15 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

By a vote of 3 to 1, the City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee on Thursday, Jan. 12, approved the controversial proposal to allow high-rise housing and backyard apartments on many more properties in San Diego. The full City Council is expected to vote on the proposal in February.

Committee members Vivian Moreno, newly-elected Kent Lee, and Steven Whitburn voted for the proposal and Councilmember Joe LaCava cast the lone “no” vote.

The proposal would “soften” city rules that allow taller apartment buildings and more backyard units when a property is “near” mass transit — the transit line could be as far as 1 mile away instead of the current requirement of half a mile away, and many transit stops won’t even be built for many years.

There are many opponents of such a sweeping change, who say the proposal will place roughly half of the city in a transit development incentive zone and actually needs significantly more analysis and study.

Andrea Schlageter, who is both the chair of the OB Planning Board and chair of the Community Planners Committee, an umbrella organization for the city’s four dozen neighborhood planning groups, was quoted by the U-T during public comments:

“Would you give up your car if the nearest transit stop was a mile away and might not go in for a few years?”

Geoff Hueter, leader of Neighbors for a Better San Diego, emphasized that in contrast to San Diego’s proposed one mile, the state standard for transit development areas is half a mile and the federal standard a quarter mile.

Other neighborhood leaders have criticized the proposal for overestimating how many residents of the new homes spurred by the change will use nearby transit — especially if it is a mile away instead of half a mile. They stress that the new policy would make properties eligible for incentives even if the transit line won’t be operating until 2035.

David Garrick, at the U-T reported that Councilmember LaCava is unsure whether he supports it, but definitely the proposal needs more analysis.

“This is a significant policy shift,” said LaCava, criticizing city planning officials for folding it into a large package of 84 municipal code changes where it is getting less attention than if it were standalone legislation.

LaCava lobbied to separate the proposal so it can be further analyzed and presented in coming months along with several other housing reforms Mayor Todd Gloria is expected to unveil.

Near the end of his article, Garrick stated:

The proposed rule changes would make an additional 5,224 acres close enough to transit eligible for developer density bonuses. The changes would also increase by 4,612 the acreage eligible for the backyard apartment “bonus” program.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Krueger January 14, 2023 at 9:52 am

Thx much for posting this important info. I’m a member of Neighbors For A Better San Diego, which is helping to lead opposition to this so called minor “land use code update.” You can read read more about the reasons to oppose this disingenuous proposal to expand to one-mile the distance from a transit stop that new high rise and multi-unit apartments can be built. Please join our mailing list for more info:


Greg January 15, 2023 at 5:18 pm

I link the current 1/2 mile TPA map everywhere just so people can see how absurd the current policy is. An expansion to 1 mile would cover basically the entire population of San Diego. The entire population of San Diego does not have adequate access to transit, currently or planned.


Debbie January 14, 2023 at 10:12 am

Ah yes those good old trolleys, trains, buses and what SANDAG has planned for you on taxing mileage with the support of the Mayor! Check it out


Chris January 15, 2023 at 9:17 am

One thing Dan Plante said that is false is busses and trolleys are primarily empty. Yes certain bus lines during certain parts of the day can be empty but again it depends of the time of day. When I take the 7 through downtown it’s sometimes gets unbearably packed. Same with the 11. As for the trolley, every time I take it there are lost of people on it.
Regardless of usage #s, this is the kind of thing I want my tax dollars being used for. I really don’t understand the resistance. And I DO own a vehicle but if public transit were improved I would use it more often. As much as I hate the Toddster, I support this effort.


Christopher Thomas January 15, 2023 at 9:29 am

Tho I don’t necessarily support a milage tax, I do support our tax dollars being used to improve public transit and bike infrastructure.


Debbie January 16, 2023 at 6:56 am

I think “use of public transportation” different for a guy. It’s not as safe for a woman IMO.


Chris January 16, 2023 at 10:57 am

The bigger point was, Dan Plante made some false statements about the # of public transit users. As far as it being different for a guy is a whole separate topic. Still not a good reason to not invest to improve it.


Debbie January 16, 2023 at 11:46 am

Maybe if it was safer for all their might be more usage….maybe.


Debbie January 16, 2023 at 11:52 am

oops there not their!


Greg January 15, 2023 at 5:16 pm

A mileage tax is coming sometime in the next decade whether we like or not from the State level, not from SANDAG. This will be done to replace lost revenue from the gas tax as California forcibly shifts the composition of the personal auto fleet from mainly ICE vehicles to hybrid/electric vehicles. These articles about SANDAG’s mileage tax are uninformed and histrionic.


Pete R January 16, 2023 at 2:25 pm

Thank you, Greg.


Paul Webb January 17, 2023 at 6:27 am

How about phasing it in, starting with a mileage fee for electric vehicles, which do not pay gas taxes? Why hasn’t anyone proposed this? It only seems fair.


Sorry not Sorry January 17, 2023 at 8:54 am

Don’t EV owners already pay an extra fee when they register/renew registration because they do not pay the gas tax?


Paul Grimes January 18, 2023 at 10:37 pm

Sounds like you own an EV. What is the extra fee you paid for the EV? If it’s under $500 then it doesn’t cover the approximately 80 cents per gallon combined tax for a car driving 15000 miles per year getting 25 MPG.
Let’s try this one. Tax EV’s per KWH at the charging station a use tax just like gasoline. Put a chip in home chargers to charge the use tax.


Sorry not Sorry January 19, 2023 at 7:48 am

Mr. Grimes, if your comment was made to me (not sure), I do not own an EV, it was a serious question. A quick internet search tells me it’s $175 and rising every year. Well below your math. I think your estimation is a little high, but I do agree that $175 does not cover the lost revenue from “gas” taxes. Regardless, I’m not sure taxing the electricity is the right solution either.


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