By Pat ShermanDuring 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.
A representative for Ron Roberts referred the
Light’squestions about his meeting with temple representatives to SANDAG. An April 10 interview with Gallegos about the issue can be read by clicking
CLJG HOA president Michael Krupp attended last year’s UTC area workshops, where the alignment least impacting residents was presented. He said overall he is very supportive of public transportation and the trolley extension.
“I told many people at the time I thought this was something we all should support and be behind,” Krupp said during SANDAG’s March 28 board meeting. “None of our (residents) … sent in any comments. In fact, I said to people, ‘everything’s fine.’ ”
At Krupp’s request, SANDAG representatives offered a presentation on the new alignment to CLJG residents in January 2014 that “raised more questions than it settled, and that led to the larger meeting on March 13,” he said.
“That meeting at times got a little raucous,” Krupp said, adding residents still have a “tremendous number of questions.”
County Supervisor and SANDAG board member Dianne Jacob requested a report on statements made by SANDAG staff regarding the realignment.
“People are concerned that they didn’t get a chance to adequately weigh in or comment,” said Jacob, who did not serve on the SANDAG board last year. “If that’s true, that concerns me. … If the trolley is running right next to or within 100 feet of someone’s bedroom, that would concern me if I lived in this complex, so I would really appreciate knowing more about this issue and the process and what occurred.”
During the meeting Gallegos responded, “This is a complicated line that goes through several communities. … We were trying to balance a lot of comments we were getting. ... People were worried about sound, people were worried about views and so staff was trying to balance all the impacts to get a project that works and (provides) the greatest public good and the least public harm.”
Without referencing his meeting with Gallegos and temple officials, Supervisor Roberts said it would be “helpful to develop a chronology” of the two days prior to the Nov. 15 SANDAG vote, and what the Nov. 13 meeting between Krupp and SANDAG representatives entailed.