Butt out, Clairemont, says Linda Vista

Affordable housing and cyclist groups don’t like neighborhood planning groups

Linda Vista should have a neighborhood voice in planning how the neighborhood is developed and maintained, the neighborhood's planning group voted unanimously Monday night.

"I have a lot of respect for the Clairemont planning group and the other planning groups — they're citizens like us who are investing in their community," said Howard Wayne, a planning group member and former California assemblyman. "But we are the people best positioned to know what's best for Linda Vista, as they are best positioned to know what's best for Clairemont."

Consolidating area planning groups into larger regional groups was one of many proposals offered by San Diego city councilman Scott Sherman in the council's hunt for ways to develop more housing. The list of 27 ideas was assembled by Sherman and councilman David Alvarez, and floated at the councils Smart Growth and Land Use Committee at the end of January.

Alvarez's apparent endorsement of the idea, three years after well-funded business interests were able to place a neighborhood planning issue in Barrio Logan on a citywide ballot where the neighborhood's plan was trampled, came as a surprise to many planning group members. Alvarez, a Barrio Logan native, later helped win approval for the creation of the barrio's first planning group.

But Alvarez hasn't endorsed the idea, his staff clarified.

"Alvarez's support for the Smart Growth and Land Use committee's work does not mean that he supports every single proposal, especially before they have been properly explored and vetted," said Ansermio Estrada.' Similarly, Sherman's staff declined to say if he would support or oppose the consolidation.

"The community planning group reforms are still in the discussion phase and are still only options for consideration," Sherman's communications director wrote in an email. "At this point, none of the proposals directly related to community planning groups are being brought forward."

The city created planning groups in the 1960s and 1970s (and one in 2014) to have neighborhood involvement in land development. Planning groups — about 50 of them — are considered advisory bodies, but the groups' ideas and votes do affect the size and scope of  development.

The groups are often where emerging issues are first seen — for example, differing views on parking requirements for multifamily projects. Developers routinely manage end runs around planning groups by going directly to the city planning commission or the city council. Because planning groups act in an advisory capacity, the commission and city council can disregard their input. But what happened in the wake of the council approval of the locally unpopular One Paseo project — where the planning commission overrode an 11-2 vote of the Carmel Valley Planning Group. A lawsuit followed, and the project was eventually approved at about half of its initially proposed size.

Gov. Jerry Brown took aim at community planning groups in his 2016 proposal to streamline development, ostensibly to build more affordable housing. The plan was ultimately rejected by environmental and labor groups as well as planning groups.

One planning group member explained that the Barrio Logan experience is illustrative of what will happen to neighborhood voices voting on a locally unpopular project if they are part of a larger, regional group.

"All of the votes against a project that would disrespect community values and identity could easily become minority votes, while outsiders ride roughshod over a place they don't understand or care about," she said. "The whole purpose of planning groups is to make sure that residents who will be directly impacted have a say in their community's future."

As it stands, neighborhoods are affected by plans and developments on their borders — for example, the effects of a development in Mission Valley on the south side of Friars Road when the Linda Vista boundaries are the north side of Friars.

Bicycling and affordable housing advocates have been angered by planning groups’ actions on their issues and have begun to campaign against the groups. Other single-issue groups have begun offering training and encouragement to supporters to get them onto local planning groups. Jim Baross, a longstanding member and chairman of the Normal Heights Community Planning Group, said of the planning group system:  "it ain't broke."

"Neighborhoods are different than 'regional bodies. We want to be able to represent our neighborhood's interest and deal with our issues first, then help with regional/wider issues."

Margarita Castro, from Linda Vista, was far more blunt in her assessment of the proposal.

"A lot of times we get the short end of the stick — there's no way we should have to go along with what (other neighborhoods) want," Castro said. "I felt like I had been stabbed in the back when I read about this."

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yep, stabbed in the back again! No help for the local low-income to get safe, good #AffordableHousingSD to #EndHomlessness SD or for making sure good paying jobs are coming to the community, with further expansion of community gardens to grow their own! No they want all the sub communities to be lumped together, take their tax base and give it the wealthy & powerful, like they are now doing to Mission Valley, & our whole City, via the Qualcomm Stadium give-away! Include SAN DIEGO chargers park in that too! Instead of fixing the homeless problems RIGHT NOW, by using the "Q" as a transition Emergency Shelter, the rebuff the idea! And they don't mention that they've already gotten $12M from the LA Chargers for leaving the site(s)! There are jobs, transit, open space, beautiful river area, Public Library, Trolley, shopping, dining, buses, biking lanes, and tons of parking for homeless in vehicles there! While the homeless gather in the outer parts of the HUGE parking lot: 160 acres! the "Q" could still be used! They could have some temporary "Tiny Villages" set-up by www.Amikas.Org , SafeZones ( [email protected] ) see @WalkwithhimFcbk {twitter profile for link} and some public school like trailers for signing people up for programs, healthcare/mental eval. clinics, and just relax out of cold & heat places. It is not easy being homeless, but having port-a-potties to pee & pooh at, places to find out about programs available to help, community, advisory and advocacy can make life not only livable, but worthwhile. So who do you want to die today?! How about your poor neighbor? Neighborhoods & communities need planning groups to get the best for their specific area...not a regional thing. Because look what regional did to the Chargers, look at what it is doing to the homeless Vet.s, their medical problems too, and the more than 10,000 homeless around the County. And what about the Affordable Housing, where is all that? And the GOOD paying jobs?, with benefit?. Tell me directly when you hear of one of those! [email protected] , UNTIL THEN LEAVE OUR COMMUNITY PLANNING AND COMMUNITY PLANS TO US; the community and not some "knock-off" bureaucrats! Sincerely yours, [email protected] 30+ year resident: 20 in Clairemont, 5 in North Park/South Park where I ran for City Council 1999.

The Board of Supervisors wanted to get rid of community planning groups in unincorporated areas entirely around four years ago, but the groups and their community supporters made a case that it was a bad idea. These planners are unpaid elected officials, many of them are retirees, working inside community plans that they created at the behest of DPLU (now DPDS). These groups are the small smidge of local control the BOS system allows. I think that all the long-time unincorporated areas should be allowed to incorporate because there are too many of these small cities now; Spring Valley should be it's own town (more than 28,000 people now live there). The county will never do it because of the tax money it will lose, but it is the most antidemocratic element of land management; if you want your voice heard after going to the local planning group meeting on an item, you have to drive down to the bay to say the same thing to the BOS, assuming that the BOS actually hears the item you are there to speak for or against, and the meeting times are extremely inconvenient for working people (9AM to 1PM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.)

This planning consolidation is a scam so that developers can ram through more condos even though surface street repair is at a standstill, and we have no idea if the sewage and water systems can handle even more of a load.

Just for the record, your headline is misleading. As the Chair of the Clairemont Community Planning Group (CCPG), we have never tried to influence how Linda Vista operates. However, I do understand what you were trying to accomplish - that, if certain individuals had their way, there would be very few Planning Groups.

That being said, I applaud LVPG on their stand against combining Planning Groups.

Keith Hartz Chair, CCPG

Linda Vista, likewise, expressed respect for the Clairemont group. Sorry about the headline - we don't write them.

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