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Plan to allow part of Prospect Place to become private property rejected

San Diego City Council voted 5-3 on Tuesday against a controversial proposed street vacation on a portion of Prospect Place east of Olivet Lane near the downtown Village.

First District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner made the motion to oppose the vacation, which would have allowed a portion of the street to become private property. Her motion was opposed by council members Ben Hueso, Todd Gloria and Marti Emerald.

La Jolla Community Planning Association, which makes land-use recommendations to the city, previously voted 10-2 against the vacation, finding it would have no public benefit.

Association president Joe LaCava said after the council hearing the denial was a victory for the community planning “process” because the voices of neighbors opposing the project had been heard.

If it had been approved the vacated portion of Prospect Street would have become owned by the homeowners at 7724 and 7709 Prospect Place, William and Lisa Barkett and Kenneth and Tara Nitahara.

La Jolla attorney Matt Peterson told the council his clients would do what was necessary to improve the property to enhance access to their land and make it a public benefit.

“The Barketts intend to install curbs, sidewalks and gutters as well as put in safe lighting and make storm drain improvements which would relieve the city from ongoing liability as well as put the vacated property on the tax rolls,” he argued.

“The planning group denied this street vacation because the findings could not be made,” said Lightner. “The applicants have talked about improving public safety, however public safety is not one of the four findings taken into consideration.”

The city requires these four conditions to approve a street vacation: There is no present or prospective use for the public right-of-way; the public will benefit from the vacation through improved use of the land; applicable land-use plans are not adversely affected, and the public facility for which the right-of-way was originally acquired will not be detrimentally affected.

Lightner offered to work with the Barketts to find an alternative, such as creating a cul-de-sac.