City Council approves plan for more housing at new trolley stops, rejects Rose Creek park proposal
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 08/03/19 - 07:15 AM | 1482 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On Aug. 1, San Diego City Council unanimously passed a specific plan calling for greater housing density and multi-modal connectivity for the new Balboa Avenue Trolley Station serving Pacific Beach and Clairemont.

The City Council however stopped short of dedicating Rose Creek as public parkland, as some were advocating as a condition of project approval.

The Balboa Avenue Trolley Stop is one of nine planned for the Mid-Coast Trolley under development to extend trolley service from Santa Fe Depot downtown to UTC and serving Old Town and UC San Diego. Trolley construction began in fall 2016 and service is expected to begin in 2021.

The new Balboa Avenue station is in a transit-oriented zone promoting higher housing densities and mass transit including bicycles and other multi-modal uses, as well as relaxing parking requirements for development.

When asked why Rose Creek could not be dedicated immediately as public parkland, City staff answered that the proposal had not been properly noticed for the Aug. 1 meeting. 

“Could we postpone the vote?,” asked Council President Georgette Gomez. “Why can’t Rose Creek be dedicated as parkland?” 

“Rose Creek is not in the Balboa Avenue Specific Plan Area,” answered Andy Field of City Park and Recreation. “It is part of the City’s Stormwater Department, which manages flooding within the watershed.

“A process for dedication of parkland has not been performed, which includes removal of encroachments, non-native plants and other upgrades to make it suitable for park lands,” Field said.

Field suggested instead that steps be taken, in a 10-year plan accessing $40 million in funding set aside by the City for Mission Bay Park improvements, to prepare Rose Creek for future parkland transition.

“Ten years seems like a long time. Couldn’t this be done more quickly?” asked Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry. 

Field responded that a plan to lay the groundwork for Rose Creek’s conversion into dedicated parkland could possibly be done in as little as two or three years.

City planner Michael Prinz told the City Council the Balboa Avenue project’s build-out will substantially increase housing density.

“The specific plan allows for a significant increase in housing capacity going from 763 dwelling units now, all in PB, along with the 1,221 allowed in the PB community plan, and adding 4,729 more units,” Prinz said. He noted improvements will also be made to enhance pedestrian, bike and transit access across Interstate 5.

Karin Zirk of Friends of Rose Creek argued for parklands dedication.

“This is our third attempt,” she told the City Council. “We’re asking that all city-owned parcels of land in Rose Creek be dedicated for a new community park for this high-density (Balboa Avenue) village.”

Zirk read off a long list of community supporters for Rose Creek being dedicated as parkland.

“With the population going from 1,000 to 7,000, the four tons of trash we pick up annually in Rose Creek is going to multiply to 28 tons,” she argued. “I am tired of picking up trash. For 15 years we’ve wanted to partner with the city (on trash pickup).”

Kristin Victor said no to the City’s plan.

“I’m in opposition as a community member and business owner,” she said. “I oppose this plan because the community deserves a well-planned, mobility connective station with urban amenities and wetlands restoration. Make it a park. We need a design that improves the quality of human life and the environment, not a plan that simply moves traffic from place to place.”

“We’re not far apart on this,” said District 2 Councilmember Dr. Jennifer Campbell, who introduced a motion to accept the specific plan. “A lot of concerns are going to be addressed in this plan.”

Added Campbell: “I’m concerned about a lack of access for PB residents to the new trolley station. We need a bridge connecting new housing units to the new trolley station. It makes good sense.”

“This is a keystone opportunity,” said District 3 Councilmember Chris Ward. “I want to see a pathway forward to make this parkland.”

“At the end of the day, we need more housing opportunities,” said District 7 Councilmember Scott Sherman. “This is a step in the right direction.” 

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