Group submits capital improvement projects for five Uptown neighborhoods
By Anthony King | SDUN Editor
In a special meeting of the Uptown Planners on Monday, Oct. 22, the community-planning group heard and approved an action item regarding projects specific to San Diego’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for fiscal year 2014.
Board member Christopher Ward led a subcommittee to review and recommend items to be voted on by the larger group in regards to the CIP. The group unanimously approved the subcommittee’s recommendations, moving them to the next governing body in the process, the Community Planners Committee (CPC).
The CIP is the long-range plan for all San Diego capital projects, defined by “construction, purchase or major renovation of buildings, utility systems and other facilities,” the city’s website states. The CIP Review and Advisory Committee analyzes numerous factors, including CPC recommendations, before final approval by the city council.
“There are a lot of factors that the city wants us to consider, not just community beautification and enhancement, but also interest in public health and safety, whether there are alternate sources of funding, and a couple of other factors,” Ward said.
In their recommendations, Ward said they chose to focus on one major project for each area within their boundaries: Mission Hills, Hillcrest, Bankers Hill and Park West, Middletown, and University Heights.
“We decided strategically … not to favor one of our neighborhoods over another,” he said. “We wanted to select one project from each neighborhood within Uptown.”
Of the five major recommendations, three already exist on the current CIP, however Ward said they were “moving too slowly” in the process. The three current CIP projects include a new Mission Hills branch library, renovations to the existing Hillcrest fire station, and the acquisition and development of the Olive Street Park in Bankers Hill and Park West.
For Middletown, Uptown Planners voted to recommend the extension of the existing train “quiet zone” from Sassafras Street through the neighborhood and into Old Town. “There are multiple community groups that are in support,” Ward said, adding that the city could use their experiences in implementing a similar zone in Downtown.
“We can build on that and continue to improve the quality of life and the environment, and … public safety and health all the way up through the western part of our boundary,” he said.
One of the largest projects approved was the renovation of the Teachers Training Annex #1 in University Heights, which is currently owned by the San Diego Unified School District. Uptown Planners recommend the building be used for a new library as well as developed park space. The city is currently considering a renovation of the existing University Heights library, located near the annex at 4193 Park Blvd.
“That could be eliminated if we opted to recommend the city go in this direction instead,” Ward said.
Ward and other subcommittee members explained the decision-making process, which including feedback and discussion from several neighborhood groups as well as an online survey for “wider community feedback,” Ward said.
He also said they found the online survey an “interesting tool” after receiving 122 responses, though Ward said there was a disproportionate amount of feedback from Mission Hills residents. “We can use this information to help us make a better decision,” Ward said.
Following the approval, Uptown Planners will now submit the recommendations to the CPC in addition to all projects they researched for a future needs list.