The Pacific Beach Planning Group (PBPG) reviewed suggested changes to the Balboa Avenue Station Area Specific Plan at its Jan. 23 meeting at the PB Library. The group also discussed a proposal to make children's play areas safer and announced revised by-laws.
Balboa Avenue Station Area Specific Plan
City of San Diego senior planner, Michael Prinz, presented a revised draft of the Balboa Avenue Station Area Specific Plan (BASASP). The plan was updated to include suggested changes made by the PBPG and by the Clairemont Planning Group BASASP Subcommittee in November 2019.
The Clairemont group supported the November 2019 draft plan, with the following conditions:
• Implement the Medium Density Alternative for Land Use, ES.6.2, as noted in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
• Assure adequate infrastructure, including mobility improvements, before increased housing density is permitted.
• Prioritize an expedited timeline funding for mobility improvements on Balboa/Garnet, including the underpasses proposed on Balboa Avenue under the freeway and tracks.
• Prioritize a safe and convenient pedestrian and bicycle link across the freeway and tracks from the new station to the community village just west of the freeway, Mission Bay, and beyond.
• Request that no more than 2,000 new units be constructed within the Specific Plan Area before a bridge is completed.
• Provide improvements to the Balboa Station and Morena intersection to create safer access for pedestrians and bicyclists. A "scramble intersection" was one alternative discussed.
• Implement one-way Class II bicycle improvements (protected where possible) on both north and southbound sides of Morena Boulevard. Eliminate the two-way Class IV cycle track on the west side of Morena.
• Provide traffic mitigation for impacted roadways in Clairemont as noted in the EIR: Balboa Avenue east of Clairemont Drive, Clairemont Drive from Denver Street to Morena Boulevard and Balboa Avenue at Clairemont Drive.
The presentation included recommendations made by the PBPG throughout last year, including:
• Assure adequate infrastructure before increased housing density is permitted.
• Emphasize creating employment opportunities/growth within the project area in the form of office space and live/work space.
• Have new development on Rose Creek celebrate the creek, not turn its back to it.
• Make Rose Creek dedicated parkland, funded by the City for park services.
• Prioritize an expedited timeline for funding improvements on Garnet Avenue.
• Provide a safe bicycle route from the Balboa Station to the bike routes west of Rose Creek and north of Garnet Avenue.
• Require that all development be compatible with PB EcoDistrict principles.
The Planning Group discussed the changes and passed the following motions:
1. To support the Clairemont group's suggestions with two exceptions: A) Make transportation space under I-5/Garnet Avenue abutments available before the station opens in 2021. B) Dedicate Rose Creek as parkland (Prinz explained that the City is not likely to do this).
Karin Zirk, Friends of Rose Creek founder, commented that the work/live requirement will not pass if the Rose Creek area is not cleaned up. For more of her organization's analysis, see saverosecreek.org
2. Make building an underpass a priority.
3. Support automated shuttles to and from the station. Kristin Victor, EcoDistrict Subcommittee chair, pointed out that there is funding for a shuttle. Paula Gandolfo suggested that shuttles be ADA-compliant and free or low-cost. Ed Gallagher suggested using the DeAnza Cove parking lot, since the station has only 230 parking spaces allotted.
4. Ensure that in new buildings with four or more units, 25 percent be designated as affordable.
The revised plan will be discussed at the San Diego Housing Commission meeting Feb. 6 and then sent to the San Diego City Council in March for approval.
• To view the plan, visit balboastationplan.org
• To make comments, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Dedicated Play Areas for Children
PB resident and parent Sandy Gade Algra made a presentation proposing an ordinance that would make it unlawful for adults to enter a children's play area unless accompanied by a child.
She said the idea for dedicated children's play areas grew on her after she returned to PB a couple of years ago and encountered homeless people camping, cooking and sleeping in public parks, encroaching on children's play areas. Her commitment to push for a specific ordinance increased when her son was hurt by a discarded needle at Liberty Station and has had to undergo testing for HIV and other diseases.
She said a few cities in the United States have adopted similar ordinances, including New York City and Miami, Florida. An attempt to pass such a law in Los Angeles failed.
PBPG secretary Carolyn Chase asked Algra if she had discussed the idea with police, and she and member Ben Ryan expressed concern that enforcement could fall in grey areas and not be easy.
Nevertheless, the group passed a motion to support the idea.
Changes to PBPG By-Laws
The Planning Group revised its by-laws related to election requirements. Carolyn Chase, Election Subcommittee chair, updated the group on the changes. They include:
• Candidates running for a seat on the PBPG board (either residential or commercial) are no longer required to gather 25 signatures.
• Candidates must now attend two (instead of one) PBPG meetings in the 12 months before running for a seat. One meeting must be a general monthly meeting and the second can be either a general meeting or a subcommittee meeting.
• Organization by census tract for residential seats has been eliminated. Residential seats are now considered "at large." The number of residential representatives allowed from a tract has been increased from three to four.
• The by-law changes were discussed at the PBPG meeting last Sept. 26 following the San Diego Council Policy (CP) 600-24 guidelines and then forwarded to the City Attorney for approval.
The general election is held in March each year. The board also fills open seats during the year in mid-term elections. Currently there are 11 residential and five commercial seats open.
Interested candidates should contact Carolyn Chase (email@example.com) The deadline for returning an application, proof of residency and candidate statement to Chase is 5 p.m. Saturday, March 2.
—The Pacific Beach Planning Group next meets 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 27 at the PB Library, 4275 Cass St. pbplanning.org