Can’t Park It in Grantville

Developers, city planners, and residents all have plans for the Mission Gorge land now occupied by Superior Ready Mix Concrete company.
  • Developers, city planners, and residents all have plans for the Mission Gorge land now occupied by Superior Ready Mix Concrete company.
  • Image by Alan Decker

Residents of Grantville and Allied Gardens and those living along Mission Gorge Road can agree on one thing: change is coming to the area. And it will come acres at a time, in the form of mixed-use, high-density development projects.

Enticed by the proximity to downtown, major freeways, and the trolley, developers have eyed Grantville and the strip of land along Mission Gorge Road northeast of Grantville for years. Their plans stalled, however, as the economy sputtered.

City planners also saw the area as the perfect place to absorb future growth. In a proposed community plan amendment, planners identified the Navajo community — Allied Gardens, Del Cerro, Grantville, and San Carlos — as “prime for neighborhood revitalization with a more lively mix of employment, commercial, higher density residential, and civic uses.”

Now, as the economy gains ground, builders are dusting off project designs, intent on finding out just how prime the land is.

In coming years, anywhere from 8000 to 11,000 new residential units will be built. Some projects are in the beginning stages. Among the proposals is the Shawnee project, a mixed-use development with over 1000 units on 23 acres just steps from the San Diego River, along Mission Gorge Road near Old Cliffs Road. Much of the property is currently a yard for vehicles, equipment, and storage bins. The Shawnee project is a stone’s throw away from a proposed 444-unit condominium complex to the south and a proposed 2000-unit mixed-use development to the north, on land owned by Superior Ready Mix concrete company, which operates a quarry farther down Mission Gorge Road.

Residents worry that large-scale development projects will ravage the crumbling infrastructure, bring more traffic to busy streets, and exhaust all efforts by the community to obtain more park space.

“Community character evolves over time, which ultimately means change is coming,” says Anthony Wagner, a member of the Navajo Community Planners, Inc., and the Allied Gardens Community Council. “Developers are eyeing Allied Gardens and Grantville because it is one of the last neighborhoods left in San Diego for them to capitalize on financially viable, high-density multifamily housing. It’s not necessarily bad, but to me it is about finding common ground between residents and developers.”

Park space is one issue on which residents such as Wagner have been unable to find common ground with developers.

Residents of Allied Gardens and Grantville “cringe at the prospect of creating a hodgepodge of mixed-use development,” Wagner says. “Developers are penciling projects that don’t include enough park space. They’re hedging their bets, buying park-mitigation credits from the City to allow them dispensation from proper park-space development. Developing the land with high-density housing is exponentially more profitable than green space.”

According to the minutes of the Navajo Community Planners January meeting, “5.5 acres of park land are required for the 1,023-unit” Shawnee housing development. The builders, Urban Housing Partners, have proposed setting aside 2.57 acres “for open space, and in-lieu fees will be paid to offset the remaining requirement of approximately 3 acres.”

Residents consider development projects among the most important issues in this year’s election of the District Seven councilmember. Candidates Scott Sherman and Mat Kostrinsky, both new to seeking political office, are vying for the seat. (The incumbent, Marti Emerald, announced that she will run for the District Nine seat.)

Dale Peterson represents the San Carlos neighborhood on Navajo Community Planners, Inc. He stresses the importance of the coming election. “Developers are looking to introduce dense housing projects within single-family-home communities. This is my most salient concern, and District Seven residents should be very interested that neighborhood streets, parks, and community resources will be stretched beyond reasonable and original intended uses. As an example, traffic plans basically say, ‘We will put a few more lights on some streets, look at establishing a local shuttle service, and add some bike lanes.’ There is not a real plan for traffic mitigation.”

In recent months, the candidates have come out on opposing sides of many issues. One thing they agree on is the importance of attracting smart projects to the Navajo community.

“Each project should be evaluated on its merit. There is a process for that, and it involves the community,” says Sherman, the president of a local insurance firm, 5th Avenue Insurance. “It’s the community that has to be involved and benefit from any developments. Contractors must be held accountable for the necessary infrastructure.” 

Scott Sherman

Scott Sherman

Sherman says he supports smart development and stresses the need for developer impact fees to build new parks. But according to recent campaign finance statements, Sherman has received dozens of donations from the building industry, including a total of $7600 in 2011 from principals and employees of developers H.G. Fenton, Sudberry Properties, McMillin, and Urban Housing Partners and from Superior Ready Mix. The Building Industry of San Diego County has endorsed him. Some fear, if elected, Sherman will be in the back pocket of developers. Sherman rejects that accusation.

“I don’t believe it is responsible to be blindly pro-development or anti-development,” says Sherman.

Mat Kostrinsky

Mat Kostrinsky

Mat Kostrinsky, a former aide to Senator Dianne Feinstein and currently an advocate for UDW–Homecare Providers Union, believes the right solution will weigh the proposals from developers and the concerns from residents. “I can’t speak for why certain developers and their attorneys and consultants contribute immediately to another candidate without first taking the time to come to the table to discuss these issues with me,” he says. “The ones that did meet with me without personal agendas do in fact support me.”

Anthony Wagner plans to keep his eye on upcoming development and is eager to hear more from both candidates.

“The new councilmember will be tasked with stemming the tidewaters but allowing a stream,” says Wagner. “I think community character in Allied Gardens and Grantville is at stake in this election cycle. The new councilmember has an opportunity to create fair, responsible, and equitable change.”

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I thought this program was dead. I should have know that the City of San Diego was not done abusing eminent domain. As a resident of Allied Gardens, I can't wait for all of the traffic on Mission Gorge Rd that is already at capacity. The roads are too small and the grocery stores are too small. What about the small businesses in that area who can't afford to move. All in the name of property tax revenue. I wonder which company that Madaffer is going to work for will be doing the development?

As far as I know, these projects are moving forward without redevelopment (successor agency) subsidy and without eminent domain. The outstanding issues are the local infrastructure impacts of these large developments and increasing population density in Grantville/Allied Gardens without providing the required park space.

As of February 1, 2012, Grantville redevelopment is stopped, except for projects that are already contracted for. My understanding is Shawnee is not one of them.

They can rename it Madaffer-ville. Grant is gone. Use your imagination to figure out what it will be like.

Allied Gardens does NOT need revitalization, thank you.

Your Grantville/Allied Gardens can look just like La Jolla Blvd! Consider it an upgrade.

If I want La Jolla, I will go visit La Jolla. Besides, there is already a La Jolla of East County--Santee.

That area is old, dreary, and uninteresting. It was a cheap bedroom area for San Diego of two generations ago. Now it needs something, but I doubt that all that density with all the attendant traffic is the answer. Just letting the developers come in and build masses of a few hundred apartments here, a few hundred there, and a couple thousand over that way is not the answer. It ain't gonna ever resemble La Jolla no way. Yes, rejuvenation is needed, but anything the big developer cabal proposes is good for them, bad for those who end up living there later on. The area needs something in a big way, but not this proposal.

If a convenient area with thousands of single-family detached homes that are mostly 50+ years old is "old, dreary, and uninteresting", then so be it. I will take it over some of the other areas in the county that are now a cluster---well, you know what they are. Yes, it's getting old, but it's not dreary. Uninteresting? To you, perhaps. It's a fairly quiet community (except for Kaiser Hospital at the bottom of the hill), and that is just fine with majority of the residents of the area. You need areas that are more interesting? You don't have far to go, thanks to the location of Grantville/Allied Gardens. It doesn't need to resemble La Jolla--you can have La Jolla.

How crowded, over-run with traffic, short on water and other resources, and developers pockets stuffed....till you finally call enough "enough"!

This is why residents shout so loudly against this, because the majority of our representatives don't!

And the 'game' continues, at least that's the way the city and developers act. They city generates a general plan, which looks good, even great, on paper, with standards for community park space, for instance. This makes those of us watching happy, or at least gets us off their backs for a little while. Then, they continue to approve developments regardless of the fact that their is not enough park space currently, and more development will simply drive the deficit. They even accept in lieu fees, which is akin to doing nothing, because they have no intention of buying land for parks. Maybe they will throw us a 'joint-use' area once in a while, making an elementary school into a part-time public park, which is NOT the same as a community park.

The very last thing Mission Valley and Grantville need now is more developments and increased density. Guess what, that's exactly what you will get, unless enough of us decide enough is enough, the General Plan took years to update, is a good document, won awards, and we should stick to it, and stop approving developments until the infrastructure catches up, period.

I'm a college student, first year, and I have lived in Allied Gardens for practically all of my life. I don't see why we need to redevelop. I can go to 4 other malls that are all 30 minutes or less away from me. There's parks within walking distance, as well as driving distance. The apartments/condos aren't needed and will make our little area look less attractive. I like it the way it is NOW, I don't want to loose how it is. If they are really set of redeveloping the place then Allied Gardens needs something that hasn't been done countless times over again. Something that doesn't ruin the simplicity and beauty I see in Allied Gardens.

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