One of the most distinctive areas of Bankers Hill is along Second Avenue between Palm Street and Upas Street. The buildings along these five blocks (built 1871-1945) are some of the most attractive in the City of San Diego. An Uptown historic study in 2006 recommended these five blocks be designated as a historic district (48 total structures; 44 potential historic). The process of determining the feasibility of forming the historic district is now beginning, spearheaded by attorney Don Liddell, who resides on Second Avenue. A draft petition has been prepared, and community outreach will soon begin. Liddell made a presentation at the Metro San Diego CDC on September 24th; which agreed to support him in this effort. While welcoming new development, the Bankers Hill community also seeks to preserve its historic character.
Living Under The Airport Flight Path
By Leo Wilson
If you reside in Bankers Hill, people will often ask: “How bad is the airplane noise?” or “Do you live under the airplane flight path?”
Almost all of Bankers Hill is under a flight path that leads to San Diego International Airport (SDIA). It is one of the defining features of Bankers Hill; in most areas you can look up and see airplanes flying overhead, often at a very low altitude.
Even if you don’t see the airplanes, you can hear them — often loudly, even when you are indoors. Excessive airplane noise and flight path safety concerns are a prominent feature of land-use planning in Bankers Hill. Often buildings must incorporate noise attenuation measures, and building heights and certain types of land uses are restricted in some areas.
There are actually two distinct airport flight paths overlaying Bankers Hill. Both are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and are subject to other federal, state and local agency regulations as well.
- Main SDIA Flight Path:This flight path passes east-west over southern and central Bankers Hill. It overlays about two-thirds of Bankers Hill, particularly the area south of Laurel Street. The SDIA Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan (ALUCP) is the major policy document regulating this flight path.
The ALUCP was adopted pursuant to state law, and is incorporated into San Diego’s current General Plan. It requires the city minimize excessive aircraft-related noise when it effects residential and other noise sensitive areas, and limits the height of buildings and certain type of land uses allowed under the SDIA flight path.
Pursuant to the ALUCP, proposed development projects under the flight path must be reviewed by the local Airport Authority to determine if they are consistent with the ALUCP. A determination of inconsistency by the Airport Authority will stop a project, unless it is overridden by a two-thirds vote of the San Diego City Council — which must make a specific finding that the proposed project will protect the public health, safety and welfare; and minimize excessive noise and safety hazards in areas around the airport.
A separate city regulation that also applies to the main flight path is the city’s Airport Approach Overlay Zone (AAOZ), which creates a 50-foot buffer zone under the FAA flight path. The AAOZ completely prohibits any new development intruding into the AAOZ buffer zone. It has no exceptions, but does not apply to the first 30 feet from ground level.
After its adoption in the 1990s, the city failed to enforce the AAOZ. The Bankers Hill/Park West Community Association, which I chaired, demanded it be applied and enforced during the approval process of several controversial projects in Bankers Hill beginning in 2004.
- Small Plane Flight Path:This flight path passes north-south, and is used by small planes to land at SDIA — which, in most cases, are not permitted to use the main flight path.
Small planes arrive from the north, and fly south through Bankers Hill above Fourth/Fifth/Sixth avenues and Balboa Park. They then make a sharp west turn when they arrive at the main SDIA flight path, and proceed to land at the airport. Often these small planes fly only a couple hundred feet above the ground when utilizing this flight path. Many residents and those working in tall buildings in Bankers Hill wave to the pilots as they fly by at very low altitudes.
This north-south flight path is part of the FAA 14 CFR Path 77 “horizontal surface” flight path, and is regulated primarily by the FAA. It begins at approximately 160-170 feet above the ground surface in north Bankers Hill.
Any proposed project that may impact this FAA flight path is required to obtain a consistency determination from the FAA prior to being approved. The FAA determines whether the proposed project creates a potential obstruction to air space, or if it creates a visual or electronic interference with air navigation.
The airport safety regulations that apply to Bankers Hill are complex, but are a necessary and vital part of protecting Bankers Hill, as well as the public-at-large, and contribute to making Bankers Hill a vibrant, urban community.
— Leo Wilson is administrator for Metro San Diego CDC and is a Bankers Hill resident.
On December 5, 2017, the consultants hired by the city to design the Olive Street Park site, KTU+A, will make a presentation at Uptown Planners. The future park will be named the “Woods/McKee Park” after the family that donated the land almost 100 years ago. Below are three investigative reports by renowned KUSI Reporter, Michael Turko, who played a major role in the process of demanding the land donated by the Woods/McKee family finally used for its intended purpose — a public park.
Original Turko Story from 2008:
Turko Story from 2010:
Turko from 2014:
The Waldo D. Waterman Park was dedicated on Wednesday, October 25, 2017. Speakers at the event were Councilmember Chris Ward; Herman D. Parker, Director of Park and Recreation, City of San Diego; James Kidrick, President/CEO San Diego Air & Space Museum.
Here is a brief biography of Waldo D. Waterman:
WALDO D. WATERMAN
BANKERS HILL’S FAMOUS AVIATOR
by Leo Wilson
On October 25, 2017, the “Waldo D. Waterman Park” will be dedicated. The new park is at the corner of Maple Street and Albatross Street, and overlooks Maple Canyon. On July 1, 1909, less than six years after the famed Wright brothers flight at Kitty Hawk, 15-year old Waldo Waterman flew a homemade hang glider from off the south rim of Maple Canyon into the canyon bottom. Some sources say he “swooped” into the canyon. He actually made several flights, before returning to his garage and working on a plane with an engine. The spot he took off from on the canyon rim is included within the new park that is named after him.
The 9,000 square foot park site was formerly known as the “West Maple Canyon Mini-Park.” On May 18, 2017, at the request of Uptown Planners, it was renamed after Waldo Waterman. For over a decade it had been assumed the park would be named after Waterman. On May 18, 2007, the Bankers Hill/Park West Community Association included it as part of its recommendations for how the new park should be designed. The recommendations also requested that: “A historic image of Waldo Waterman should be placed in the center of the site to commemorate the historic figure.”
That historic image will be an existing plaque that was placed at the west end of the park site on July 1, 1959, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Waterman’s flight. The plaque was placed by the “Early Birds of Aviation”, a national aviation organization, and the San Diego Historical Society. The mayor of San Diego and other dignitaries were in attendance, as was Waldo Waterman himself, who spoke at the event. The day prior, Waterman, who was still a licensed pilot, flew again over Maple Canyon.
In 1911, shortly after his first flight, Waterman became involved in a project to develop a new hybrid airplane/car/boat – know as the “whatsit” airplane. An owner could: “drive his amphibian aircraft away from the landing field or water.” It got its name because when people first viewed it, their initial question was: “What is it”? Waterman worked on the project for several decades, but eventually it was abandoned and the prototype plane donated to the Smithsonian Museum. Waterman went on to become a TWA pilot, but at the same time continued his inventive work in aviation.
Waldo Waterman was not the only famed aviator associated with Bankers Hill. In May 1927, a young 25-year old aviator left his temporary residence on Maple Street in Bankers Hill, only a few blocks east of Waldo Waterman Park, and flew a small plane that had been manufactured in San Diego to Paris. His name was Charles Lindbergh.
The dedication of Waldo D. Waterman Park will take on October 25, 2017, from 10:30-11:00 p.m., at the park site. There were dozens of people in Bankers Hill that helped make this park happen; and thanks to everyone involved.
Here are pictures of the new park:
SAN DIEGO CDC
536 Maple Street, No. 103
San Diego, California 92103
October 23, 2017
Ahmad Erikat, Brian Genovese
City of San Diego | Transportation & Storm Water Department
Transportation Engineering Operations Division
1010 Second Avenue, Suite 800, MS 608
San Diego, CA 92101
Dear Mr. Erikat & Mr. Genovese:
The Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation (“Metro San Diego CDC”) is a non-profit organization with representation from over 20 full blocks of property and business owners in the Uptown communities of Bankers Hill/Park West, the Hillcrest Commercial Core, and Five Points/Middletown. Both the Bankers Hill Business Group and Five Points/Middletown Business Association are affiliated with the Metro San Diego CDC, as well as are several local community associations.
At its October 16, 2017 meeting, the Metro San Diego CDC discussed the proposal to relocate 14 DecoBike stations from the Beach area to Uptown. The Metro San Diego CDC found the proposed relocation puzzling. Uptown has some of the lowest ridership per DecoBike station in the City of San Diego. It appears on average the number of daily DecoBike rentals in Uptown is between one and two rides a day per station. There is one station (#186) in Uptown that has not had a bike rented from it in all of 2017. Four stations have an average of less than one bike rental per day. The normal business practice is to increase the supply of a product where there is a high demand; yet DecoBike is moving 14 of its stations from areas where they had a relatively higher ridership, to Uptown with possibility the lowest ridership in the city.
The Metro San Diego CDC passed the following motion regarding the proposed relocation of 14 DecoBike stations from the Beach area into Uptown:
1.) The Metro San Diego CDC opposes relocating the 14 DecoBike stations to Uptown, as the existing Uptown DecoBike stations are badly underutilized. This is a very poor business decision; the stations should be relocated into areas with high existing ridership, several of which exist outside of the Beach communities;
2.) The Metro San Diego CDC strongly opposes DecoBike stations being placed in locations that will result in the loss of existing street parking. Several of the proposed stations are at sensitive locations in business districts; where there already is a critical shortage of parking. In particular, the Metro San Diego CDC requests the following five proposed stations be removed from consideration for DecoBike stations, as each will result in the loss of two parking spaces or a parking space and a commercial loading zone:
+ Fifth Avenue & Washington Street;
+ Fifth Avenue & Pennsylvania Street;
+ Third Avenue & Washington Street;
+ Fifth Avenue & Nutmeg Street;
+ Park Boulevard & Cypress Street;
3.) The Metro San Diego CDC also strongly opposes the placement of two DecoBike stations on the east side of Sixth Avenue at the curb along Balboa Park. It has been the existing policy of the City to not allow commercial advertising in Balboa Park. The two proposed Sixth Avenue Stations, at Sixth Avenue & Nutmeg Street and Sixth Avenue and Fir Street, will have advertising, so will violate this policy. They will also compromise the attractiveness of the park viewshed.
Metro San Diego CDC
SAN DIEGO CDC
536 Maple Street, No. 103
San Diego, California 92103
October 19, 2017
Dear Co-Chairs & Members of the AIDS Memorial Task Force:
As a result of an online design competition, a preferred conceptual design for the San Diego AIDS Memorial was put forward in early October 2017. The proposed conceptual design will be considered for adoption by the San Diego AIDS Task Force at a future meeting. The San Diego AIDS Memorial will be placed within the Olive Street Park (“Woods McKee Park”) in Bankers Hill.
The Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation (“Metro San Diego CDC”) reviewed and discussed the proposed preferred conceptual design at its October 16, 2017 meeting. Metro San Diego CDC members have been involved in the planning and development of the Olive Street Park for over a decade. The proposed park consists of a northern parcel, which was donated to the City of San Diego over a decade ago by the Woods-McKee family for use as a park, and a southern parcel purchased by the City of San Diego in 2010. Both parcels together will become the future “Woods-McKee Park.”
The City of San Diego, because of limited funding, had indicated that the design/construction of the Olive Street Park would not take place until after about 2026. However, as a result of the sale of the Truax House property in 2017, funds were obtained to begin the immediate design and construction of the future Olive Street Park, conditioned on the placing of the San Diego AIDS Memorial within the new park. The Metro San Diego CDC endorsed the placement of the AIDS Memorial in the Olive Street Park in a letter dated October 27, 2016.
The Metro San Diego CDC, after reviewing the preferred conceptual design of the San Diego AIDS Memorial, approved the following motion by a vote of 17-0:
1.) The Metro San Diego CDC is very favorably impressed with the preferred conceptual design, particularly that of the northern parcel and its cantilevered canyon lookout;
2.) As the AIDS Memorial was intended to be a memorial placed in a community park; the Metro San Diego CDC requests that the AIDS Task Force honor its previous commitment to not use more than 25% of the land within the proposed Olive Street Park for the AIDs Memorial. This could be done through utilizing the preferred conceptual design for the northern parcel of the proposed park; while the southern parcel would be utilized for community park use;
3.) The Metro San Diego CDC recommends the proposed memorial path on the southern parcel with boulders with “names engraved of those lost” be removed from the preferred design concept. The memorial path would be in close proximity to the neighborhood play structure, and having a memorial walk/memorialized rocks next to the children’s playground is inappropriate. The memorial path and rocks should be relocated to the northern parcel;
4.) The proposed parking within the proposed park’s footprint along the west side of Third Avenue should be removed. It reduces the size of the future park, and there is already street parking on Third Avenue, as well as additional parking a few blocks away in Balboa Park;
5.) The medium tree in middle of Third Avenue is not part of the proposed park, and should not be included as part of the memorial. It is unknown who has jurisdiction over medium with the tree, whether it’s the City of San Diego or an adjacent private property owner.
The Metro San Diego CDC again expresses it support for the AIDS Memorial being placed in Olive Street Park, and is very impressed with the preferred design conceptual, with the suggested modifications stated above.
B. Michael Seidel
B. Michael Seidel, President,
Metro San Diego CDC
SAN DIEGO CDC
536 Maple Street, No. 103
San Diego, California 92103
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.
Leo Wilson, Administrator
Metro San Diego CDC