Why Residents of 6 Neighborhoods Are Protesting San Diego’s Housing Policies — ‘Circulate San Diego’ Also Targeted as Developer Lobbyist Group

by on May 4, 2023 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

From Protest Organizers

The May 6th “Citywide Protest Against the City of San Diego’s Reckless Housing Initiatives” will draw hundreds and potentially thousands of residents from 16 communities across the city, kicking off at 10:00 a.m. in University City, which alone is expecting around 300-400 people. (Go here for the 6-neighborhood rally schedule.)

“Our city officials have been rolling out one high-density housing initiative after another, without regard to the supporting infrastructure that would be needed, the negative impacts on the environment, delayed fire & safety response times, lack of police protection, impaired traffic circulation, and the decreased quality of life for existing residents,” said Bonnie Kutch, a University City resident and lead organizer of the all-day, citywide protest.

“The city is intentionally destroying single-family neighborhoods through excessively dense community plan updates and numerous other initiatives that will shift San Diegans from future homeowners to lifelong renters.  In the end, our city government will be unraveling the very fabric of San Diego that everyone here knows and loves, while destroying it for the next generation.”

Kutch said that residents of participating communities are calling for responsible growth, meaning sound planning with growth balanced with infrastructure, ample parks and open spaces, preservation of our urban canopy, truly affordable housing policies rather than more luxury rentals, opportunities for home ownership, redevelopment of underused commercial and industrial properties, and preservation of single-family neighborhoods for future generations where families can grow and thrive.

“In the College Area, the city is proposing a community plan update with extreme density, spilling deep into single-family neighborhoods,” said Danna Givot, a resident of the College Area and captain of her community’s protest.

 “This density should be concentrated on the transit corridors, where it will result in increased transit usage, economic development, and truly affordable housing, while maintaining the urban canopy and helping to achieve San Diego’s climate action goals.”

Added Givot:

“Nothing the city is proposing is logical or consistent with the city’s own stated climate and mobility mode shift goals.  They don’t provide data to explain their decisions, because the research and facts aren’t there to support their plans. Now they are creating Blueprint SD, a ‘mystery model’ that will produce ‘heat maps’ they will use to justify where to focus future density, but they refuse to share the algorithms and input data, so the output is suspect, at best.”

In addition to community plan updates that propose extreme housing density far exceeding what is needed, the city has refused to tighten up building codes on ADUs like that of other cities around the state, such as reasonable setbacks from neighboring properties and measures to ensure new ADUs don’t infringe on their neighbors’ privacy.

In February of this year, the San Diego City Council approved its proposal to expand the definition of a Transit Priority Area (TPA) from ½ mile to one mile from a public transit stop.  This was despite the fact that 92 percent of people who use transit live within ½ mile, and there is absolutely no proof that people will walk a full mile to catch a bus or trolley.

Senate Bill 10 is bundled into San Diego’s Housing Action Package 2.0 and is currently making its way through the system.  Mayor Gloria is the only city mayor in the state who’s elected to opt-in.  SB 10 would allow 10-unit buildings up to three stories high in residential neighborhoods on single-family parcels, no matter how small the lot is.  All parcels a mile or more away from existing or future transit stops are eligible, which would include more than half of all San Diego properties.

“SB 10 is potentially the most harmful high-density housing initiative the city could possibly impose since there are no onsite parking requirements, building would be allowed in high-risk fire areas, and they would allow 100 percent concrete coverage of lots with no green space required,” said Diane Fitts-Shutt, a resident of North Clairemont and captain of the Clairemont protest.  “SB 10 is a complete neighborhood-killer that only the City of San Diego has been foolish enough to opt into.”

According to Patty Ducey-Brooks, a resident and business owner in the Uptown community and captain of the Uptown protests, “Density at all costs is the mantra of our elected officials who would gladly have all neighborhoods be demolished and redeveloped with 20-story high-rises that resemble New York or Chicago — even worse, Miami.”

She added:

“Our elected officials, from Sacramento to San Diego, are doing everything they can to stop home ownership and create a culture that promotes landlord-controlled rents and living standards. They want to vastly increase housing density in our older, single-family neighborhoods, while offering no provision for desperately needed parks, recreational facilities, grocery stores, street and sidewalk repairs and upgrades, and other basic infrastructure. We have to let them know we are not going to sit back and let this happen.”

Kutch said that the developer lobbyist group Circulate San Diego is greatly interfering in the process of gathering community input by falsely stating that high-density housing will help bring housing prices down when it’s been proven the opposite is true. Rather, investors such as Blackstone Development are poised to buy up new apartment buildings and increase rental rates.

Circulate San Diego and city officials also have been leveraging college student activist groups to speak out at community planning group meetings and public hearings, claiming they are “stakeholders” in the community and “entitled” to live in the communities they choose to live in.

“City officials claim they are listening to community residents when it’s clear they’re taking more direction from paid lobbyist groups and young, migratory college students who don’t understand they are actually hurting themselves and future generations,” said Kutch.

“Residents of San Diego’s single-family neighborhoods have worked hard to afford their homes so they can raise their families and live their lives in peace, privacy and comfort.  We know our neighbors, and feel a strong sense of community belonging.  The city is determined to take all that away from us.”




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