SANDAG responds to 11th-hour trolley shift woes; e-mails show agency may have reached accord with Mormon temple before hearing public input in La Jolla

Saby David, who owns units at Cape La Jolla Gardens, demands to know how the previous track alignment, proposed in last summer’s environmental report, would have affected the Mormon temple. The tracks were moved south to within 127 feet of his complex at the behest of Mormon temple officials, SANDAG concedes. Pat Sherman

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Info on the $1.7 billion Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project (bringing trolley service to UTC):sandag.org/midcoast

By Pat Sherman

More than 100 people filled the community room of La Jolla Village Square mall March 13 to ask officials with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) why the location at which the San Diego Trolley extension would cross over Interstate 5 was shifted south to within 42 yards of the Cape La Jolla Gardens (CLJG) condo complex.

Cape La Jolla Gardens resident Dr. Denise Shanley says her bedroom window would be less than 42 yards from the trolley as it passes her complex. She said she fears the current track location will diminish her property value, and is considering selling her unit.

Cape La Jolla Gardens resident Dr. Denise Shanley says her bedroom window would be less than 42 yards from the trolley as it passes her complex. She said she fears the current track location will diminish her property value, and is considering selling her unit.

Irate CLJG residents told SANDAG the trolley’s close proximity to their complex would diminish their quality of life and property values.

In June 2013, SANDAG hosted five public workshops in the area to address project impacts outlined in a draft environmental impact report (DEIR) for the project (released in May 2013), at which many CLJG residents were present. (The period to comment on the DEIR also closed in June 2013.) The DEIR showed the trolley crossing I-5 at the furthest point north SANDAG has yet proposed (as represented by a blue line in the map on page AA3).

After the public comment period for the DEIR closed, however, SANDAG moved the I-5 crossing south by 360 feet to be within close proximity to the northeast corner of CLJG (as represented by the map’s green line), largely at the behest of Mormon temple representatives, SANDAG officials said.

However, SANDAG e-mails obtained by La Jolla Light show that temple representatives met with SANDAG Executive Director Gary Gallegos and County Supervisor Ron Roberts on April 23 to advocate for the southward shift — two months before the public was asked to consider the blue line configuration.

Colored lines show where SANDAG has proposed to build trolley tracks across Interstate 5 to service UTC and UCSD since 1995. In November 2013, SANDAG approved moving the route from the blue line south to the green line, largely at the request of Mormon temple representatives. The green line tracks would be just 42 yards from the northwest corner of the Cape La Jolla Gardens condo complex. Courtesy of SANDAG (temple location added by La Jolla Light)

In a March 27 e-mail to SANDAG Mid-Coast Project Manager Greg Gastelum, Allen Haynie, a lobbyist who is also a member of the Mormon temple, wrote: “The representatives of the Church are very anxious to meet with Supervisor Roberts and Gary to discuss their concerns and hopefully find a solution. After meeting with you and (SANDAG consultant) Susanne Bankhead, I went back and looked at the prior alignment (the map’s yellow line) that had been provided to the Church at the time the Church was asked to publicly support the alignment, which it did at a SANDAG hearing. The alignment the Church was shown and that the Church supported crossed over the I-5 freeway much further to the south of the San Diego Temple than the alignment you presented during our most recent meeting. I can’t emphasize how important this issue is to the Church.”

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