Projects

Metro San Diego CDC Supports the Approval of the Truax House Tentative Map

METRO

SAN DIEGO CDC

536 Maple Street, No. 103

San Diego, California 92103

(619) 822-5103

 

May 16, 2017

Honorable Chair Stephen Haase and Members of the City of San Diego Planning Commission

220 C Street,

San Diego, California 92101

 

Letter of Support for Approval of the 2513 Union Street/ 540 West Laurel Tentative Map (“Truax House”):

Dear Chair Haase & Members of the Planning Commission:

This letter is written on behalf of the Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation (“Metro San Diego CDC”), whose membership is comprised of residential and commercial property owners and businesses representing over 19 full blocks of the Bankers Hill/Park West community.  The Metro San Diego CDC took an active role in early 2016 in seeking to preserve the historic Truax House, which at the time was threatened with sale and potential demolition.

A little over a year ago, on May 9, 2106, the board of directors of the Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation voted unanimously to write a letter of support for the proposal submitted by Soheil Nakhshab for the purchase and development of the Truax House property, located at the northeast corner of Union and Laurel Streets.  The project proposed by Nakhshab Development & Design will include the following features:

1.) The preservation and restoration of the historic Truax House, which played an important role in GLBT history during the early stages of the AIDS epidemic;

2.) Provides Bankers Hill with a potential community center and art gallery, as well as a possible home for a memorial to Dr. Brad Truax;

3.) Allow for potential public access easement into the Maple Canyon Open Space System, subject to the approval and agreement of adjacent hillside property owners;

Nakhshab Development & Design has followed through with its promise to preserve the Truax House, and had a historic report prepared for the site, which it used to have it historically designated.  Likewise, it has also moved forward with seeking the approval of a tentative map for the property at 2013 Union/540 West Laurel, which is before you on June 1, 2017.

The Metro San Diego CDC voted unanimously at its May 8, 2017 to strongly support the approval of the 2513 Union Street/540 West Laurel Tentative Map, and urges you to approve the tentative map at your June 1, 2017 meeting.

Sincerely yours,

Leo Wilson

Leo Wilson, Administrator

Metro San Diego CDC

 

 

Olive Street Park (“Woods McKee Park”) : Update & Background

It was almost a decade ago since the struggle began to end the misuse of the Olive Street Park site, which was donated by the Woods-McKee family in 1909 to be used for a public park, but which the city for decades allowed to be misused as a private parking lot. It took probably over 100 E-mails & other correspondence, numerous meetings with city staff and the city attorney’s office; several Uptown Planners and City Council hearings, and finally a lawsuit by the city; but it now appears Olive Street Park is on its way to becoming a city park, as originally intended almost 100 years ago.  City Engineer & Capital Projects staff and  consultants KTU+A  have been contracted to develop plans for the park, and attended the December 2016 Uptown Planners meeting.

A major catalyst for making this happen was KUSI investigative reporter Michael Turko, who did four or five stories about the issues regarding the park, and kept the public spotlight on the effort.  Three of the Turko File stories about the Olive Street Park saga are attached below.  Dorian Hargrove from the Reader also did a seminal story in 2008 which is pasted below. Also major credit goes to attorney Don Liddell, and the board of directors of the Metro San Diego CDC and the Bankers Hill/Park West Community Association, for their leading this effort.  Uptown Planners also made things happen despite opposition from the attorney for the private party using the land as a parking lot.

 

 

_______________________

METRO SAN DIEGO CDC

P.O. Box 635201

San Diego, California 92163-5201

(619) 822-5103

 

June 7, 2015

Honorable Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Members of the City Council

220 C Street, City Administrative Building

San Diego, California 92101

 

Dear Honorable Mayor and City Councilmembers:

At its April 27, 2015 meeting, the Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation passed the following motion regarding the development of the Olive Street Park (“Woods McKee Park”) located at Third Avenue and Olive Street.  The motion was passed by a unanimous vote:

(1.) As the lawsuit by the adjacent property owner on the north side of the proposed Olive Street Park has been resolved, the Metro San Diego CDC requests the City of San Diego move forward expeditiously with the planning and community outreach process for development of the proposed park.  Pursuant to City Council Policy 600-33; Uptown Planners; the local community planning group, will act as the designed park advisory body for the community outreach process.

(2.) The Metro San Diego CDC further recommends that the City of San Diego consider purchasing the building on the north side of the proposed Olive Street Park (owned by Dr. Brandon), and incorporate it into the park.  Bankers Hill/Park West generated development impact fees and any other appropriate funding sources should be utilized to purchase the property.

This is an important urban park project, located in a community with a significant amount of new development being built.

Sincerely yours,

Leo Wilson, Administrator

Metro San Diego CDC

___________________________

Banker’s Hill | City Lights

Ping-Pong Park

By Dorian Hargrove | Published Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2008/nov/05/city-lights-2/

In the midtown community of Banker’s Hill, a convertible Mercedes drives down Olive Street straight through the intersection with Third Avenue and onto a narrow paved driveway. The car coasts past a wooden sign displaying the names of three medical offices, loops around a light post, and parks in a shady spot, under the canopy of a eucalyptus growing above the slope of Maple Canyon.

For patients and employees of the medical center and many residents of Banker’s Hill, the piece of land abutting the building, 80 feet wide by 120 feet long, is nothing more than a driveway and parking lot, flanked on one side by the low-growing shrubs in front of the building and on the other by an area covered with wood chips, recently landscaped with small trees and perennials.

But for many other residents, the land is dedicated parkland that has been mishandled by the City for the past 99 years and misused by the owner of the building for the past 45.

It began in 1909, when three families — the McKees, Fords, and Woods — donated a dusty, 16,000-square-foot plot of land that adjoined their properties, 40 percent of it in Maple Canyon, to the City of San Diego. Written on the January 20 deed are the words “forever for use as a public park.”

During the next 51 years, the land remained undeveloped, used only to access the backyards of the three neighboring properties — the Wood house to the north and the McKee and Ford houses to the south. In 1963, Dr. Milan Brandon and his land-investment firm, Beaver Investment Corporation, purchased the northern lot, overlooking Maple Canyon.

Brandon went to the City to request access to Olive Park for purposes of ingress and egress to his property and asked permission to ignore setback requirements so that his new medical building could be built up to the edge of the donated piece of land.

The City granted Brandon’s wish with one condition: the site must be maintained as a park. Brandon agreed, and on June 11, 1963, the parties signed a Revocable Encroachment Permit, granting permission to the “Permittee to landscape, develop, and maintain as and for a public park that certain parcel of land conveyed to City by deed.”

During the next decade, Brandon built his medical office from property line to property line and developed the adjacent land. He paved more than a third of it, laying down a circular driveway large enough for four parking spaces and extending the driveway to the back of his building, where cars enter the underground parking garage. He put in a wall, excavated a palm tree in favor of the light post, and planted the area in front of the building and south of the parking lot.

Michal McKee, the great-granddaughter of one of the benefactors, was a teenager when she learned about the new building and the changes made to the land. “Basically, they designed the whole building intending to use city property to park on. They paid nothing for this right; they just did it. My stepfather, back when I was a teenager, saw I was upset about this and wrote a letter to the City.”

The City’s Park and Recreation Department responded by looking into the intent of the permit and the condition of the land. In 1975, two letters were sent to Brandon informing him of the department’s concern.

“From a recent inspection of the property, it is apparent the property does not conform with the conditions of the permit,” Ed Mendoza, director of the Park and Recreation Department, wrote in his second letter to Brandon. “[It] has the appearance of being a private driveway and parking lot which was not the intent of the permit.… This is to advise that failure to comply with the terms of the permit will make it necessary to initiate action to revoke it.”

The City, however, began to question what should be done with the property. Just months after Mendoza sent his letter to Brandon, city staff recommended to the Central Area Committee (a community advisory group) that Olive Park be deleted from the park department’s inventory. According to city records, the committee considered the park too small, too close to Balboa Park, too costly, and too dangerous, as much of it was canyon slope. But after “heated and intense discussion,” the committee voted to keep the park.

Frustrated with the City’s indecision, the McKees sued the City in 1981, claiming reversionary rights on the property due to improper usage.

The court ruled in favor of the City, stating that Brandon was not in direct violation of the encroachment permit and had a right to use the land for access, as had the property owners before him. The court interpreted the words “for use as a public park” as meaning the canyon portion of the lot — despite the City’s earlier opinion that it was “dangerous.”

Upset about the defeat, McKee dropped the issue altogether. “About that time, I felt like the process was so corrupt and nothing was going to happen. I had spent the last ten years banging my head against the City wall, so I just went on with my life.”

Despite McKee’s capitulation, the City’s file on the park continued to expand. The opening line in a 1992 city memorandum on Olive Park from Olin Hughes at the property department began, “I guess it’s time for another memo-on-the-record on this subject (the property file only has six or seven in it so far).”

Two years later, the land was mentioned in a 1994 letter from Mayor Susan Golding to a concerned citizen. “I have contacted the Real Estate Assets Department…who are currently investigating the matter. If a resolution is not forthcoming, then the department is prepared to proceed with the steps necessary to revoke the permit.”

During the next ten years, no more complaints are found in the City’s file on Olive Park, and no changes were made to the land. Then in 2004, Leo Wilson, chair of Uptown Planners, an officially recognized city advisory group, noticed activity occurring in Maple Canyon. “We saw some trees go down in the canyon, and it was listed as surplus property for sale by the City. The impression we had was somebody had taken the trees down…preparing to purchase it. But because it is dedicated parkland, it requires a vote of the people. If it wasn’t for that, the property probably would have been sold.”

Wilson says that sale would have provided a larger footprint for future developers. “If the City sold one portion to them, then they could get a tall building overlooking the canyon. Eventually, you could stick in a big condo complex, and the impact on Maple Canyon would be enormous.”

To Wilson’s surprise, in May of this year, Park and Recreation representative Debra Sharp showed up unannounced at the monthly meeting of the Uptown Planners to discuss options for Olive Park, despite the fact that the item was not on the agenda. Wilson said he felt as though the City was “passing a hot potato” to the planning group because the City wasn’t sure what to do with the land.

Wilson was even more astounded to see KUSI News investigative reporter Michael Turko arrive at the meeting to report on the issue.

Responding to the newfound interest from the City and local media, Wilson, along with fellow boardmember and law professor Don Liddell, took the initiative and spent the following months reviewing the court’s 1981 decision and visiting the city attorney’s office for advice.

Armed with new information and reassurance from the city attorney’s office, Wilson and Liddell were prepared to make a recommendation.

The City gave them four options to choose from. The first three involved selling all or portions of the park to Brandon. The last option included charging Brandon rent for his use of the land, as well as enlarging the park through a City purchase of two adjacent vacant lots to form a one-acre park called Wood/McKee Community Park.

In August, Uptown Planners voted 13–0 in favor of the last proposition.

Mark Brandon, son of Milan Brandon, says there are some misconceptions about the property and how his family has managed it over the years. “One of the pieces of misinformation is the idea that the McKees and the Woods gave the property to the City as a gift,” explains Brandon. “It’s a misleading way to portray it. What really happened was all of the families were using Olive Park, or then Olive Street, to get to their properties, just as we use it today. Somewhere along the way, one of the families suggested to the City that they close the paper street. If the City closed the paper street, then the homeowners agreed not to take the property. What they proposed to the City was, if you close the street, when the property comes to us we will give it back to the City and the City would keep it as a park. So that’s how the property got created as Olive Park. When that happened, the families still used the land exactly as they had before, and everyone just used it that way for decades. Nothing really changed. When we bought our property, we bought it with the understanding that we would always continue to use it the same way they had.

“Our position is we are not taking anything from the City, and we shouldn’t be paying rent on this,” says Brandon. “It’s an established access to our property that existed long before we bought it, and it’s the only way to get into our garage. At this point, we’re concerned with what to do because so many people have gotten involved in this recently. Frankly, the City hasn’t come to us — we’ve been hearing about all this from everyone else. We’re getting hit from all different directions on this.”

The Brandons feel that they have been fighting for access to their garage the entire 40 years they’ve been there. “It just means there would probably be another lawsuit. We’re in the neighborhood too — we’ve been here for four decades — and we like the idea of a park here. There’s been talk to take some of the other property and use some of that land for it. We’d support that, but no one has come to us.”

Councilmember Kevin Faulconer favors the establishment of a new Olive Park. “I will be working with them [Uptown Planners] and the rest of the community when we figure out the best options for the site,” he says. “Parks are very important, and getting new parks is good for every community. Earlier this year, we became aware of the renewed community effort to pursue the park, so I think it’s taking on a lot of momentum.”

According to Wilson, the Bankers Hill/Park West Community Association, a citizens’ group that works on neighborhood issues, formed a task force in September to make sure Olive Park isn’t once again forgotten, and Wilson vows to push the City forward with buying the adjacent lots for parkland. “The City will move forward, but we need to push them to make this happen,” he says. “We’re going to take the ball and run with this in Banker’s Hill.”

West Maple Street Park Update

The construction of the West Maple Street Park (“Waldo Waterman Park”) is taking place. Below are some images of the work that has been done so far

CyX6tqXVEAEe3Bh leed_cert_003_t675 CyX6fpCUQAA0dwbThe existing monument to Waldo Waterman in the second picture will be moved to the center of the park.

METRO

SAN DIEGO CDC

536 Maple Street, No. 103

San Diego, California 92101

(619) 822-5103

October 27, 2016

 

Uptown Planners

Joyce Beers Center

1230 Cleveland Street

San Diego, California  92103

 

Re:  Letter of Support for the AIDS Memorial Committee Recommendation to Place the San Diego AIDS Memorial In Olive Street Park:

 

Dear Uptown Planners:

On October 10th, AIDS Memorial Committee, chaired by Katherine Stuart Faulconer & Nicole Ramirez-Murray, made a presentation to the Metro San Diego CDC about creating a permanent memorial to those affected by HIV disease and AIDS in San Diego. A portion of the Olive Street Park site in Bankers Hill is currently under consideration for the location of the AIDS Memorial; The Metro San Diego CDC unanimously endorsed placing the AIDS Memorial at the Olive Street Park site on May 9, 2016.

The Metro San Diego CDC, and its predecessor the Bankers Hill/Park West Community Association, have spend the better part of a decade battling to establish the Olive Street Park, which will be named the “Woods-McKee Park”, after the family that donated the northern parcel of the future park to the city almost 100 years ago. The City of San Diego purchased the southern parcel of land that will be an additional part of the park several years ago.  The Metro San Diego CDC remains strongly in favor of placing the AIDS Memorial in Olive Street Park, and supports the AIDS Memorial Committee, the Mayor, and City Councilmember’s Gloria’s recommendations to place the AIDS Memorial at this location.

Sincerely yours,

B. Michael Seidel

President

_____________________________ 

  (Gay San Diego, October 14, 2016)

“AIDS MEMORIAL UPDATE

A presentation by the San Diego AIDS Memorial Task Force was made at a recent meeting of the Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation (Metro SD CDC).

The task force — co-chaired by San Diego’s first lady Katherine Stuart Faulconer and longtime activist and San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez — has led the charge with raising awareness, fundraising and finding a permanent home for the memorial, which would honor thousands of San Diegans who lost their battle with the disease.

(l to r) San Diego’s First Lady Katherine Faulconer and City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez, co-chairs of the San Diego AIDS Memorial Task Force, shown on stage at the recent B-52s concert fundraiser.

“[Today] families don’t have a place to go to remember their loved ones,” said Susan Jester, the representing member of the AIDS Memorial Task Force at the meeting.

Jester, along with Katherine Johnston and Jen Lebron, representatives of Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office, appeared Oct. 10 before the group to give an outline of the AIDS Memorial project, planned to be located in a Bankers Hill park.

The Metro SD CDC is a nonprofit that serves the Uptown communities of Bankers Hill/Park West, Five Points/Middletown and the western slope neighborhoods of Mission Hills.

Metro SD CDC administrator Leo Wilson had invited the task force to the Oct. 10 meeting, to meet the development group in person. In a meeting last May, the Metro SD CDC had endorsed the preliminary plan to posit the memorial in Olive Park.

A small parcel of land within Maple Canyon near the corner of Third Avenue and Olive Street in Bankers Hill, Olive Park is close in proximity to Truax House, the former home of Dr. Brad Truax and the first facility to offer AIDS-related services.

A total of 8,000 people have died in San Diego of AIDS/HIV since the 1980s, Jester said at the Metro SD CDC meeting, adding that San Diego is the only large American city without an AIDS/HIV Memorial.

“The 1980s were like a holocaust situation,” Jester said. “We want to remember that time in our history so that it doesn’t happen again.”

Jester founded Walk for Life in 1984, the precursor to what is now called AIDS Walk and Run San Diego.

The memorial will come one step closer to being a reality Nov. 1, when the Uptown Planners meet at 6 p.m. at the Joyce Beers Uptown Community Center in Hillcrest listen to plans for the long-awaited park.

Katherine Stuart Faulconer and Nicole Murray Ramirez, co-chairs of the San Diego AIDS Memorial Task Force, were unable to attend the meeting with SD Metro CDC, but will be at the Uptown Planners meeting, which is open to the public.

The total project will cost $1.2 million and will take 25 months to build, said Johnston, a planner in the mayor’s office said, at the meeting. The memorial would open to the public by summer 2019.

For more information on the AIDS Memorial, visit tinyurl.com/hrgz8cp. To keep up with the AIDS Memorial Task Force, follow them on Facebook.com/SDAIDSMemorial.”

 

 

 

Projects

Peter Comiskey, Director of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, spoke at the September 12, 2016 Metro San Diego CDC meeting:  Comiskey also spoke on behalf of Balboa Park United, a coalition of Balboa Park’s cultural institutions and support organizations, which are supporting the Plaza de Panama project.  The Metro San Diego CDC previously voted to support the Plaza de Panama project moving forward (see letter below), and is participating in Balboa Park United.

METRO

SAN DIEGO CDC

536 Maple Street, No. 207

San Diego, California 92103

October 20, 2015

Plaza de Panama Committee

San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum

2131 Pan American Plaza
San Diego, CA 92101

Dear Plaza de Panama Committee:

The Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation Board/ Charter Committee voted 17-1 to reaffirm its support for the Plaza de Panama Project, as originally proposed by Dr. Irwin Jacob; and to request that, as the litigation regarding the project has been resolved, the Plaza de Panama Committee move forward with building the project as originally approved by the San Diego City Council on July 9, 2012.

Sincerely yours,

Leo Wilson, Administrator,

Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation

Projects

On August 2, 2016 the San Diego City Council Approved the Sale of the Truax Property at the Intersection of Union Street & Laurel Street to Architect Soheil Nakshab; Below is his Description of the Project He Intends to Build on the Site: 

I am writing this message to you in an effort to communicate the vision that I have for the Truax House property. I believe that we would all like to ensure that the transfer of the Truax house property results in the highest and best outcome for the greater benefit of our community.

I envision a project that respects the historical context of the Truax House and that also facilitates a center that provides both education and a center that serves as a memorial for patients that were given a place of soul healing and comfort in their final days. It is vital that our city’s historic resource is preserved and restored, dedicated in the same spirit that Dr. Brad Truax brought to the citizens of San Diego. Coupling the historical significance of the site, incorporating a community and visitor center, and adding much-needed market and affordable units, we hope to have the opportunity to build a meaningful project that will add value to the greater community. I am interested in creating a long-term project that may live on as a cultural asset for years to come.

I have actively been in close contact with community leaders and the councilman’s office in order to refine the vision for the future of the Truax house and have prepared an outline of what I’d like to achieve on the property. I am seeking a fair-market price for the property and am interested in facilitating the revitalization and development of a cultural resource that will bring benefit to us and our posterity. To further the long-term viability of the project, I believe everything we are proposing to be built to LEED sustainability standards so that we are creating the least negative impact and are building quality for our community. Please see below for our goals for the Truax House Property:

Preserve + Restore the Truax House including Visitor Center

Vital for my vision for the property is the preservation and restoration of the Truax House. I believe this is not negotiable as we need to protect this resource that is a part of San Diego’s philanthropic history. I also believe that an interactive visitor center with elements such as a timeline for the Truax House’s history may be a welcome addition for the property. Also in the center, I believe some sort of memorial for Dr. Brad Truax as well as his patients should be created. We have already been proactive and have prepared a detailed historic report for the City of San Diego and are hoping to have a determination within the next few weeks.

Given my track record of revitalizing aged and historic homes while creating financially feasible projects, I would be honored to perform a restoration for a significant cultural icon. As demonstrated in both my Union 4 project just one block away and my Sofia Lofts project in Golden Hill, my firm and myself have been proponents of preserving the architectural fabric of our neighborhoods while also developing architecturally significant and inviting spaces that complement, not overpower, the historic structures.

I have been proactive with the historic status of the property and have initiated the preliminary process with Historic Resource to ensure the preservation of the Truax House. I am more than happy to share the submittal with any interested parties.

Community Center + Public Art Gallery Created on Ground Level

The Truax House sits on a gorgeous site with views out to the San Diego Bay and Downtown as well as Maple Canyon. Creating a community center with a multi-purpose room and drought tolerant garden area would prove as a great space for tenants, non-profits and community organizations to enjoy. This aspect would continue the tradition started on the property by the AIDS Foundation in Dr. Truax’s spirit with values of welcoming and openness for the community.

A section of this space may be reserved as a public art gallery that could house different local artists’ work throughout the year.

Public Access Easement for access to and from Maple Canyon

Maple Canyon is beautiful open space that is not utilized enough by the community. This may be partly due to the fact that finding an inviting passage into and through is not easy. Opening up access through the Truax property would connect two public resources in a meaningful fashion that allows both places to be experienced more pleasantly.

While this part of our proposal has some nuance of having the adjacent property owner agree to similar goals of giving the public a charming access to Maple Canyon. We are dedicated to working closely with the private property owner next door in putting together the required public access easement as this will bring a tremendous benefit for the community as a whole.

Apartments with 10-15% Dedicated to Low Income Housing

In order to create economic value on the site, I would like to build boutique apartments on the site with 10-15% of the housing dedicated to low and/or very low income housing. It is no secret that we are experiencing a shortage of affordable housing in San Diego as well as market rate housing. This portion of the project will create the financial feasibility required to make this project happen.

I plan on creating architecturally significant housing built to LEED sustainability standards that are in harmony and complement the Truax House similar to what we achieved our Union 4 and Sofia Lofts projects. The insignificant single family home on the corner of the property would be demolished for this new structure. We would also incorporate alternative transportation by providing electric vehicle chargers on site and implement a bike sharing program on the property.

I have lived on Union Street for the past 3 years and see a potential of creating a community cornerstone on the Truax site. This area of Bankers Hill has been somewhat neglected after I-5 was constructed and I believe that my goals for the Truax property would encourage a stronger sense of community in the area.

I invite anyone with interests in this property to support my plan and to be in contact if there may be any suggestions to encourage the spirit of creating a project that brings together a positive combination of private and public interests to create an environment that is a community asset.

Please send me a signed letter addressed to the city if you support my vision for the future of the Truax house. I know that you are all busy so I have provided a letter template if you may like to use it. Thank you all for taking the time to read this message, I greatly appreciate your attention and sponsorship for our objectives.

Soheil Nakhshab, PE

Principal, CEO, ALLIED AIA,LEED AP, BPI

Nakhshab Development & Design, Inc.

2900 4th Ave., suite 100, San Diego, CA 92103

Projects

Metro San Diego CDC Letter Requesting the Decision to Approve a CEQA Exemption for the Uptown Regional Bike Corridor Project be Continued To Allow for Assessment of Safety Issues/ Proposed Mitigation:

METRO

SAN DIEGO CDC

536 Maple Street, No. 103

San Diego, CA 92103

June 19, 2016

Honorable Chair Ron Roberts & Board of Directors

San Diego Association of Governments

401 B Street, Suite 800

San Diego, California 92101

 

Re: Uptown Regional Bike Corridor Project: Request that Decision on CEQA Exemption be Continued for Assessment of Safety Issues/Proposed Mitigation:

Dear Chair Roberts & Members of the Board of Directors:

This letter is written on behalf of the Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation (“Metro CDC”), whose membership includes commercial, business and residential property owners representing over 20 full blocks in Bankers Hill/ Park West, and the Five Points/Middletown communities of Uptown. The Metro San Diego CDC has been following the progress of the planning for the Uptown Regional Bike Corridor project on Fourth & Fifth Avenues in Bankers Hill, and Washington Street & San Diego Avenue in Five Points and Middletown.

The Metro CDC approved the following motions regarding the alignment of the Uptown Bike Corridor project along these two routes:

“1.) Bankers Hill/Park West: Metro CDC recommends a two-way bicycle lane be placed on Fourth Avenue; the alternative of a bicycle lane on Fifth Avenue (preferably a two-way lane) might be supported if issues, such as providing parking for delivery vehicles and postal vehicles; buses not stopping in a traffic lane for boarding of passengers; and preservation of street parking, are effectively addressed;”

“2.) Five Points/Middletown: Metro CDC recommends a two-way bicycle lane be placed on the north side of Washington Street from India Street to Ibis Street;”

Regarding the recommendation for Fourth & Fifth Avenues; the Metro CDC believes strongly that a two-way bicycle lane on either Fourth Avenue or Fifth Avenue is preferable to one on both streets.  This would save a considerable amount of money, which can be used for projects elsewhere.  The number of bicycle riders presently using the painted temporary lanes on Fourth and Fifth Avenues is abysmally low, in early 2016 the documented count of ridership was:

FIFTH AVENUE:  44 BICYCLE TRIPS ON AVERAGE A DAY;

FOURTH AVENUE: 43 BICYCLE TRIPS ON AVERAGE A DAY

This low ridership brings into question whether it makes sense to place bicycle lanes on both Fourth & Fifth Avenues, rather than a two-way lane on only one of the streets. Two-way bicycle lanes have successfully been installed in cities throughout the United States, and have proven both safe and popular.  Seattle is an example of a city that has successfully installed a multiple two-way bicycle lanes.   Likewise, a two-way bicycle lane would make sense on Washington Street, and might mitigate the need to cut into the slope on the south side of Washington Street.

On June 24, 2016, the SANDAG board will determine if the Uptown Regional Bike Corridor project should be granted a CEQA exemption.  To grant the exemption, California Public Resources Code Section 21080.20.5 requires:

“Prior to determining that a project is exempt pursuant (b) to this section, the lead agency shall do both of the following:

Prepare an assessment of any traffic and safety impacts (1) of the project and include measures in the project to mitigate potential vehicular traffic impacts and bicycle and pedestrian safety impacts”

The Metro CDC believes it is premature to make a CEQA determination at this time, prior to the following safety related issues being resolved:

1.) The SANDAG bike project has transit buses stopping in a lane of traffic on Fifth Avenue to pick up passengers.  This is dangerous and creates a safety hazard. Fifth Avenue is a busy street, particularly at rush hour.  There have been no mitigation measures or alternatives proposed to mitigate this dangerous proposal;

2.) The current SANDAG bike project will remove loading zones and areas that service vehicles use to deliver supplies to businesses on Fifth Avenue. This will effectively prevent businesses from receiving the supplies necessary to operate. There are no back alleys or nearby side streets that can provide alternative parking;

3.) The San Diego Fire Department requires that buildings above a certain height have ladder access from the street curb; often this removes the ability to place parking along the sidewalk as the curb in front of the building is required to be “red-curbed.”  A buffered bicycle lane along the street prevents curbside access, and may in effect operate as a height restriction on future construction along one side of Fifth Avenue in Bankers Hill, and create additional fire safety concerns.  This is an area zoned for high density with a height limit of 150-feet;

4.) The north side of Washington Street is adjacent to a canyon in which there is disturbed riparian habitat, and that provides drainage to the adjacent hillsides.  It appears the proposed bicycle lane at this location may encroach further into this area, which may impact sensitive lands, and raise drainage issues.  These impacts should be studied and mitigated.

The above issues need to be assessed as required by California Public Resources Code Section 201080.20.5, and appropriate mitigation provided, prior to the granting of a CEQA exemption for the Uptown Regional Bike Corridor project.

In making this request, the Metro CDC is not opposing the Uptown Regional Bike Corridor project, and is on record in support of installing protected bicycle lanes along the corridors in question. It also believes a CEQA exemption may be appropriate at a later date.  However, the Metro CDC believes the current request is premature.

Sincerely yours,

Leo Wilson

Administrator, Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation

  1. Metro San Diego CDC Board of Directors

 

The Metro San Diego CDC has previously voted to support placing a two-way cycle track on Fourth Avenue in Bankers Hill/Park West, and Washington Street in Middletown: http://sduptownnews.com/metro-san-diego-cdc-supports-separated-bicycle-lanes/

Projects

Metro San Diego CDC Park Project Update Update: May 29, 2016

Hi Everyone:

A brief update concerning Balboa Park special event issues, and two future neighborhood parks planned in Bankers Hill/ Park West:

1.) Attached is a copy of the “Neighborhood Report of Noise and /or Loud Amplified Sound During Special Events on the West Mesa” complaint form for Balboa Park special events.  Loud noise and other related issues impact the eastern section of Bankers Hill. The West Mesa Subcommittee of the Balboa Park Committee is seeking to address this issue.  To do this, we need feedback and reports from affected Bankers Hill residents, and so are requesting they complete and return the attached form. The complaints forms will be shared with city park staff and special event organizers.

2.) Construction is about to begin on the West Maple Canyon Mini Park; attached is a rendition of the future neighborhood park.  It has been in the planning stage for almost 10 years.

“Stakeholders

The Capital Improvement Program (CIP) project, West Maple Canyon Mini Park, is about to begin May 31st in your area (see attached map). The new park construction will include retaining walls, Fencing, paving, a new irrigation system, new lighting, Signage and ADA improvements. The historical monument will be protected in place along with the big tree to the SW of the lot. Construction will take 220 working days and performed by Tri-Group Construction & Development, Inc. The park will be beautifully landscaped and require 120 calendar days for plant Establishment.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Thank you,

Priscilla Endres

Project Assistant

City of San Diego

Public Works Department”

3.) On May 9, 2016, the Board of Directors of the Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation voted unanimously to support placing the San Diego AIDS Memorial in the future “Woods/McKee Park”, now know as the Olive Street Park.  The Woods/McKee family, who originally donated the land, and who spent many decades fighting have the their family’s donated land be made a park as intended; fully support the AIDS Memorial being placed in the new park.

“Hi Leo,

Your email about Dr. Truax was forwarded to me. One of the donors, my ggfather, Loren McKee, was a Methodist pastor. My grandfather Dempster McKee was Episcopalian as the family is today. Both those denominations have been on the forefront of inclusion and equal rights for the LGBTQ community. My grandfather Dempster openly opposed the Japanese interments during ww2 and represented Japanese Americans in lawsuits during that period despite the culture of bigotry.

I think placing that memorial at Woods McKee park would be fitting and certainly more than acceptable to my daughter and I, who are not the only remaining family members but are the last to carry the name McKee.

Michal McKee”

Have a good Memorial Day; lets not forget those who gave their tomorrows so that we could have today

Leo Wilson, Administrator

Metro San Diego CDC

 

Projects

Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation Letter dated November 18, 2015 Opposing Building Recreation Centers in Balboa Park:

METRO

SAN DIEGO CDC

536 Maple Street, No. 207

San Diego, California 92101-0311

(619) 822-5103

November 18, 2015

To: Uptown Planners:

The Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation (“Metro CDC”) Board/Charter Committee discussed the proposal to place two recreation centers on the West Mesa of Balboa Park at its meeting on Monday, November 9th. Representatives of both the Balboa Park Conservancy and Friends of Balboa Park were in attendance.  As Adriana Martinez, from the Third City Council District, who attended the Metro CDC meeting can attest, none of the 35 people in attendance at the Metro CDC meeting spoke in favor the placing the two proposed recreation centers on the West Mesa of Balboa Park. Instead there was strong opposition.

The Metro San Diego CDC Board/Charter Committee passed the following motion by an 18-0 vote:

1.) That the Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation strongly opposes the placement of two recreation facilities on the West Mesa of Balboa Park; and

2.) That the Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation work with the Balboa Park Conservancy, Friends of Balboa Park, and other Balboa Park stakeholders to oppose the proposed recreation centers; the representatives from the Balboa Park organizations present indicated they supported and would participate in this collaborative effort; and

3.) That representatives from the Metro San Diego CDC/ Balboa Park stakeholders meet with the Mayor’s Office, City Council, and City staff to request the proposed recreation centers be removed from the draft Recreation Element of the Uptown Community Plan Update.

I attended an event sponsored by the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership and the Balboa Park Conservancy on November 11th, at which over 100 people were in attendance.  The Balboa Park stakeholders in attendance I spoke with all expressed opposition to the two proposed recreation centers on the West Mesa, and questioned why their organizations, which had done so much to contribute to Balboa Park, had not been consulted about the recreation center proposal.

A major issue with this proposal is there has not been one organization or constituency group in either Bankers Hill or Balboa Park that I am aware of which supports the proposed recreation centers for the West Mesa.  Planning staff needs to identify where this proposal originated; and why it was not reviewed by Balboa Park stakeholder organizations, like the ones mentioned above.

Sincerely yours,

Leo Wilson, Administrator,

Metro San Diego CDC