SANDAG to consider design modifications to Alvarado Creek

Vote comes on the heels of heavy flooding in the area

View of Grantville and the trolley station
  • View of Grantville and the trolley station

Today the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) board will consider whether to approve the City of San Diego's application for a $400,000 Smart-Growth grant to be used for design modifications to Alvarado Creek north of westbound Interstate 8. According to the agenda, the creek "in its current condition is a barrier to smart growth in Grantville" because "it limits connectivity to the Grantville Trolley Station. The creek is highly channelized, subject to regular flooding, and often used as a storage yard. However, an injection of grant funds into the area can speed up the recovery of the creek by transforming it into an amenity that serves as a catalyst project to spark redevelopment."

The vote on the “Grantville Trolley Station/Alvarado Creek Enhancement Program” application comes nearly a week after heavy rains on July 18 and 19 caused flooding in the area targeted for transit-oriented development. Mixed-use development is planned near the station that opened in 2005.

Lots of plans for Grantville

Lots of plans for Grantville

That designation is in the Grantville Focused Plan Amendment that the city council approved on June 9. Modifications in the Navajo Community Plan amendment include changing the primarily industrial/commercial use to zoning of 44 to 109 dwelling units per acre. Boundaries for that zoning include Mission Gorge Road between Alvarado Canyon Road and Mission Gorge Place. Also in this area is a portion of Alvarado Canyon Road that parallels I-8. The transit center is located there; so is the creek that recently flooded Mission Gorge Road property owned by Dan Smith.

Smith owns El Dorado Properties, Inc., a real estate/property management firm. He's also a member of Navajo Community Planners, Inc., and has long cautioned his colleagues that the flood-control issue must be resolved before development is allowed. (The planning group's February 11 support of the amendment environmental impact-report included a letter stating that the flood-control improvements will "allow full development.")

Flooding in a Grantville gym

Flooding in a Grantville gym

On July 19, a tenant notified El Dorado about the flooding, chief operating officer Danielle Smith said in a July 22 interview. "We started calling tenants," and people including friends. Thirteen people began the clean-up of "multiple" tenant businesses. Danielle provided images from July 19 that included a video of water surging through a parking lot and the interior picture of people cleaning up a gym. "We're still in the process" of cleaning up," she said.

Dan Smith said, "It's been very frustrating" to deal with the flooding. Frustrations include gallons of water harming small businesses and the effect of flooding on plans for a trolley hub. He said the growth of bamboo restricts the flow of water, and the ability to clean out the storm channel is limited by "the birds and bees" (environmental regulations). However, dealing with regulations might require help from 53rd Congressional District Representative Susan Davis or Governor Jerry Brown, he said.

The SANDAG agenda showed a recommendation that the board approve the grant. The city would match it with $100,000 for a total of $500,000. That grant would take the project to the 30-percent design phase, and the city would apply for additional grants for project construction, Navajo Planners vice chair Jay Wilson said on July 22.

Flooding of Alvarado Creek

Furthermore, funding to dredge Alvarado Creek has been approved, said Jeff Powell, District 7 councilman Scott Sherman's communications director. "We are waiting for the Regional Water Control Board to approve our permit," Powell said in a July 21 email.

Dredging would probably begin in late October or early November, he said. Powell was asked how much money approved, but had not responded by press time.

Flooding is a pre-existing condition, so it's not covered in the focused-plan amendment, said Powell.

"However, the plan does include Supplemental Design Regulations for properties near Alvarado Creek." Regulations include the requirement that developments along the creek provide a 10-foot wide multi-use trail directly adjacent to the cheek.

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