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Letters to the editor — March 10, 2017

Posted: March 10th, 2017 | Featured, Letters to the Editor, Opinion | No Comments

Uptown’s future

(Re: “What will Uptown look like in the future?” Volume 9, Issue 2 or at bit.ly/2kSVyWW.)

Barry Hager said, “younger people from various backgrounds can still afford a smaller home with a yard” in Mission Hills. San Diego is already the fourth most unaffordable city in the nation for millennials, based on a median home price of $500,000, and the median single family home price in Mission Hills is $1.1 million. Perhaps Mr. Hager meant to say, “younger people from various trust fund backgrounds.”

Meanwhile Hager’s Mission Hills Heritage is suing the city to overturn the Uptown Community Plan Update, which simply retains the same density as the 1988 Community Plan. Their lawsuit isn’t about historic preservation, but rather excluding others from Uptown to further boost their massive property value profits.

—Paul Jameson via our website, sduptownnews.com.

Uptown is actually the gateway between the early-20th century “Downtown” commercial district and the higher elevation mixed residential use Bankers Hill and lower density Hillcrest and Mission Hills residential communities. These areas declined in the post war 1950s-‘70s of suburban flight, then rose in popularity as affordable housing for young start-up middle class, retired, and fixed-income elderly.

But as the large scale building industry completed their final high density condo and townhouse project at the northern city boundaries around 2000, the Building Industry Association took aim at Uptown and initiated a lobbying campaign to change the General and Community Plans to maximize density and height for their industry’s financial benefit. And as we have seen, developers flocked to Uptown in the last five years. The result was the 11th-hour changes to the Uptown Community Plan Update and Draft Environmental Impact Report by then-Councilmember Todd Gloria and his friends at City Hall. I predict the SOHO/Mission Hills Heritage lawsuit will be decided at the appellate court, where three judges are beyond the reach of San Diego’s all powerful BIA lobby. What indeed, will be the future of Uptown?

I foresee higher density in the traditional commercial and moderate high rise mixed use communities and a great many significant historical buildings demolished or dramatically altered to accommodate this new density. There probably will be FAA lawsuits challenging the safety of some of those high rise structures, but in the end the area closest to Balboa Park will someday resemble Miami Beach, Florida. But the areas where historical neighborhoods will prevail will be the traditional residential areas that did not already transition into mixed commercial and 50-65 foot high buildings. And although electric cars were popular before 1949, I do not believe residents, restaurants, and commercial businesses will find noisy trolley lines to be compatible with their quality of life in the 21st century.

—Ron May via our website, sduptownnews.com

Support library for University Heights

This letter is a request for support and assistance, from your readership for a BIG community project that I, and a group of our members have worked on for over a decade. The project is a library, sufficient for the needs of a community of 38,000 people, in the oldest suburb of San Diego, University Heights.

The need is well defined: Our current library, which was built in the early 1960s, was fine for a community of 18,000, but now, with a rapidly expanding community of 38,000, housing San Diego’s largest high school, a large junior high and a very large elementary school, the current library’s 3,700-square-foot size. In comparison to all new libraries being 10,000- to 15,000-square-feet in size, is very insufficient, and has the most rapid turnover of books in the system. Its small size also severely restricts the number of computers available for student use, has insufficient size to offer community meeting space, and has insufficient space for book storage, and insufficient parking. Further, it is dangerous for students from the elementary school to safely reach it.

Coincident to this, we discovered, over a decade ago, that the architecturally historic and beautiful California Teachers Training Annex building (the original home of San Diego State University), built by architect Irving Gill in 1891, was not on the national or state or federal historic registers. It was sitting, empty and unused, and might be an optional home for a new, adequately sized library, and would bring with it a much-needed park area as well as enough room to accommodate community meetings and office space for the school district.

With the district’s support, we placed the building on both the state and federal historic registers and went to work to secure use of the building as a joint use library, three times the size of the current library; owned by the school district, but operated by the city, and used by the school district, the community and the students of the area. Additionally, it would not only provide for growth that had occurred and was occurring in the community, provide better and safer study facilities for the students, and make use of and preserve a vital part of San Diego history.

Five-plus years ago, we were able to secure an agreement to that end with the school district, and complete a feasibility study by a well-known architectural adaptive reuse specialty firm. Since that time we have been pleading for funds to complete the updating on the building necessary to make the transition. If this were during the mayoralties of Susan Goldman and Maureen O’Conner we would likely not be having the now-current challenge of raising the funds necessary to do the upgrades, but today that is not the case. Libraries do not get the financial attention (except for the Downtown library), that they once did, even if the building is available at next-to-no cost. At this stage I/we are worn down and need someone or some group to help with the funding of this beautiful community treasure. We are worn out with over a decade of pleading and negotiating. If you have any ideas to offer, we are listening.

—Ronald V. Johnston via email

Likes this supermarket

(Re: “Smart & Final Extra! concept explained,” Volume 7, Issue 26 or at bit.ly/1QX2R9b.)

I don’t think I ever visited the previous stores at this site. I moved to North Park from the beach a couple years ago; not sure I understand the opposition. This store is a convenient after-work stop for me — lots of parking and good customer service. The produce section is so much better than at other regular Smart & Final stores. They have delicious roast chicken in the evening that is larger and less expensive than Sprouts or Vons. Although I do most of my shopping elsewhere, this is such a convenient stop for a good price on organic milk and a surprisingly good selection of produce and frozen food. I hope they stay here!

—Elaine Stephenson via our website, sduptownnews.com

—Email letters to the editor to ken@sdcnn.com.

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