How Tall Is Too Tall in Uptown San Diego?

In July 2008, in response to objections from Uptown residents about a proposal to build a 12-story residential and commercial tower on the corner of University and Fourth Avenue, councilmembers imposed temporary height restrictions on new buildings in Hillcrest, Mission Hills, and Banker’s Hill.

The Interim Height Ordinance prohibits new buildings over 65 feet tall in Hillcrest, 50 feet in Mission Hills, and requires developers to obtain discretionary use permits for buildings over 65 feet in Banker’s Hill/Park West.

On January 29, 2011, the Interim Height Ordinance is set to lapse, and once again residents of Uptown are urging councilmembers to extend the ordinance. As part of the ordinance, the city council can only grant two extensions, each for 180 days.

In a December 1 staff report to the Land Use and Housing Committee, city officials recommend extending the ordinance until the height restrictions are included in the community plan update.

Councilmembers Todd Gloria, Kevin Faulconer, Sherri Lightner, and Tony Young will discuss the item at the December 8 meeting of the Land Use and Housing Committee and decide whether to move the item on to city council.

In the meantime, residents of Mission Hills are showing their support for the ordinance.

"The [Interim Height Ordinance] remains very popular in Mission Hills and throughout Uptown," reads a November 9 letter from the offices of the Mission Hills Heritage organization to councilmember Kevin Faulconer. The letter requested that Faulconer support the extension and push for a permanent 50-foot height limit for all buildings along the Washington Street corridor, where current zoning allows for 150-foot buildings.

The Interim Height Ordinance will be discussed at the Uptown Planners meeting on December 7 and then the following day during the Land Use and Housing Committee meeting.

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We have urged the City to adopt some form of "stepping down" to limit a big difference in height which blights the shorter buildings or worse yet the houses that are behind or adjacent to the taller structure!

Cramming more Density in our older neighborhoods without also adding infrastructure, parks, open space o parking is not good Public Planning and only helps the Developers that don't live in these boxes, make money!

A one story difference is my preference as it prevents the wind, the sky and the sunshine from being "stolen" by the higher structure. I bet none of the City Councilmembers would want to live in a house next door to a very tall building that has 2 or more floors of folks looking down into their backyard...

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