Dueling Rallies Held Over Future of University City

by on March 13, 2023 · 0 comments

in San Diego

Dueling rallies were staged in University City on Saturday, March 11, over the future of the community.

One group of dozens took over the four street corners at Genesee Avenue and Governor Drive to protest Mayor Todd Gloria and Councilman Kent Lee’s support for a proposal to add thousands of housing units to a small, 7.35-square-mile community.

They held signs expressing disapproval of an upcoming community plan update calling for 30,000 new housing units but without infrastructure improvements. Some signs called for motorists to honk their support — and it was a noisy intersection. Some signs called for the recall of newly-elected Councilmember Kent Lee. It appeared to have been organized by local residents and activists as well as by Neighbors for a Better San Diego. They do  have a facebook page.

Around the same time, a different group held a rally at the Nobel Trolley Stop Platform in favor of density and more housing. Their signs and speakers called upon the local community planning group, planning commission, and city council to support the Plan Update that “allows for the most density in accordance with the Planning Department’s smart growth principles,” as they stated in an announcement.

Rally organized by OTTA.

The rally was sponsored by a group called Our Time to Act United (OTTA), that says its advocacy is within “three focus areas: social & racial justice, transportation & housing, and climate action–––all of which relate to our overall mission to build youth power.” Their website looks very profession.

At the rally critical of the community plan were residents who have lived in University City for the entirety of their lives. They say the area is not equipped to handle the influx of people and traffic that the project would bring. “The schools are already at capacity so where are we going to put so many kids, you know? There is no infrastructure. They aren’t planning any,” said one father protesting the proposal.

Another protester standing in the rain as drivers honked was quoted as saying, “This is a community that is so strong and really feels passionately about where they live.”

Many of the protestors say they understand the need for development, but would prefer new units not be “high density” and consist of more affordable housing. “We’re not saying don’t develop here, we’re saying have everyone come together,” said another protester, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1995.

Meanwhile, at the “pro” rally, Nicole Lillie, the Housing Projects Director for Our Time To Act United (OTTA), said, “Building high density housing near transit is the best way for us to meet all of our housing and our climate action plan.”

Those at the protest rally feel the new plan will make the community unrecognizable and unlivable. Those at the other rally believe the new plan will bring needed housing.
According to a November 2022 presentation by the University Community Plan Update, the new development would bring 33,000 new housing units and and 80,000 new jobs. A  final draft of the project is expected to be available later in the year. News source: 10News

See this critique of the Community Plan for University City.

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