UTC residents ask SANDAG to reassess trolley alignment

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Cape La Jolla Gardens homeowner Will Cooper tells SANDAG’s board of directors its 360-foot southward shift of a bridge that will move the trolley across I-5 was ‘sprung upon’ UTC residents without notice or chance for feedback. Pat Sherman photos

By Pat Sherman

During the public comment portion of the San Diego Association of Governments’ (SANDAG) March 28 board meeting, UTC residents voiced frustration with the most recent realignment of a bridge that will take the trolley from the east side of Interstate 5 to the west, as it makes its way north through UTC.

Though UTC residents were by-and-large pleased with the alignment proposed in a subsequent environmental report (SEIR) that was presented to them in a series of workshops in late spring and early summer of 2013, last November the bridge was shifted 360 feet south, placing the elevated track within about 120 feet of the Cape La Jolla Gardens (CLJG) condo complex, on the east side of I-5.

SANDAG representatives said the southward shift was made mostly at the behest of Mormon temple officials, despite the fact that the alignment presented to the community earlier that year in the SEIR was still farther from the temple than it was from CLJG or other area residences.

During the SANDAG board meeting, a visibly incensed District 1 City Councilmember Sherri Lightner (whose district includes La Jolla) voiced her opposition to the change.

“The environmental analysis that was circulated last year never considered the southern (currently proposed) alignment as approved November 15, 2013 (by SANDAG’s board),” Lightner said, reading from her March 25 letter to SANDAG Executive Director Gary Gallegos, who, along with County Supervisor and SANDAG board member Ron Roberts, met with Mormon temple officials months prior to the release of the community approved environmental report.

Lightner noted that the SANDAG board voted Nov. 15 to “significantly modify the alignment over I-5 without considering the impacts of this change to the community.” The vote occurred just two days after CLJG HOA President Mike Krupp was first notified of the change in a meeting with SANDAG representatives.

“Since this significant shift in alignment was rushed through the approval process without any community input and available environmental analysis, I request this item be immediately brought back to the board of directors for reconsideration,” Lightner said. “Once this item is docketed for reconsideration, the board should move to rescind the I-5 southern alignment … and revert back to the northern alignment ... community members accepted after attending numerous neighborhood forums on this subject.”

Encinitas City Councilmember and SANDAG board member Lisa Shaffer said she will e-mail board chair Jack Dale to request that the item be placed on the executive committee’s agenda. (The executive committee decides whether items are docketed for SANDAG’s regular board meetings.)

On March 13, SANDAG officials met with more than 100 CLJG and UTC residents to answer concerns about the southward bridge shift, at which time the only justification SANDAG offered as to why Mormon temple officials requested such a wide berth between their facility and the trolley bridge was a concern with the bridge’s visual impact.

Temple representatives have not attended SANDAG’s meetings with CLJG residents, and did not respond to requests for comment from

La Jolla Light

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