Fix the flooding, fix the roads

Grantville planners okay environmental report to make way for development

What will happen to Zion Avenue (pictured) if drivers detour from Friars or Mission Gorge roads?
  • What will happen to Zion Avenue (pictured) if drivers detour from Friars or Mission Gorge roads?

Navajo Community Planners, Inc., voted 10-2 last week to support the City of San Diego in certifying the draft environmental impact report for a Navajo community-plan amendment that would add 8275 residential units to Grantville.

Grantville trolley station

Grantville trolley station

Modifications proposed in the Grantville focused-plan amendment include mixed-use commercial/residential zoning around the trolley station on Alvarado Canyon Road, with from 43 to 109 dwelling units per acre. Development-impact fees would be used for projects such as transportation and parks and recreation.

The amendment area includes land north of Interstate 8 on Fairmount Avenue and Mission Gorge Road. The northern boundary extends on Friars Road from Fairmount to Zion Avenue, where Friars becomes Mission Gorge Road.

The February 11 vote included approving a letter with the planning group's comments about bicycle lanes, traffic, and parks. The letter also said the report didn't address flood-control improvements at Alvarado Creek. Improvements "will allow full development."

Some planning-group members belong to the Grantville Stakeholders Committee, which met after the planners did. The committee voted 9-1 in favor of amendment documents and the planners' letter.

The letter supported installing bike lanes on "secondary streets and the proposed San Diego River bike path" instead of major thoroughfares until road improvements were completed. "Existing streets endure significant traffic at peak times, and the addition of bikes lanes would negatively impact traffic flow and impede the safety of cyclists traversing narrow streets."

The letter stated planners would pursue grants to re-stripe entire streets, rather than just bike lanes.

Another comment concerned mitigating traffic impacts. The intersection of Alvarado Canyon Road and Fairmount Avenue is located north of I-8, and realignment of those streets should be "a top priority." Planners also called for the city to work with Caltrans and the San Diego Association of Governments to address impacts on Friars Road at the Interstate 15 ramps.

Not mentioned in the letter was planner Terry Cords’s comment about the impact if drivers left Friars or Mission Gorge and traveled on Zion or Princess View Drive in Allied Gardens and Jackson Drive in San Carlos. Cords, president of the Crusaders Soccer Club, said, "Kids practice from 4 to 6 p.m., which is rush hour." He added that the 18 area fields are so busy that the Green Elementary School field is rented from the San Diego Unified School District.

Senior planner Brian Schoenfisch said plans for additional parks are listed in amendment documents.

Planners kept a comment in the letter stating the city formula (for calculating recreational needs) would result in a "deficit" in parks and athletic fields when Grantville is built out.

The letter also said Federal Emergency Management Agency maps defined a 100-year floodplain along Alvarado Creek. The floodplain "is not contained within the existing channel and culverts," and the report must addresses the floodplain.

Schoenfisch said mayor Kevin Faulconer and District 7 councilman Scott Sherman were working on a $400,000 grant application related to that issue.

The approximately 20 people in the audience included city staffers and committee members. Two people spoke. Wayne Chang of Chang Consultants lauded the emphasis on hydrology.

A woman asked when Zion would be widened to four lanes. Senior traffic engineer Samir Hajjiri said that although widening the street is in the community plan, funding had not been identified.

In an interview after the planning-group meeting, two members discussed their "No" votes. Lynn Murray said she'd been involved (following the issue) since redevelopment. The city established the Grantville redevelopment project area in 2005. Murray said there were two reasons for her vote. "Fix the flooding; fix the roads. We're going to allow all this development — build [and] then get the money," she said.

The city is accepting comments on the environmental report until tomorrow, February 17. Marilyn Reed said she objected to voting before the city received comments. "I feel there are going to be other comments" from people including Allied Gardens residents.

Reed also voted no on the stakeholders motion.

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