Hundreds of Bay Park residents turned up Wednesday night to oppose high-density development along the planned extension of the San Diego Trolley system through their neighborhood.
Ed Harris, the interim appointed council member for District 2, told the crowd that he shared their concerns about high-density development along the coast and had called the meeting to hear directly from residents.
“I do not want to see developments over 30 feet,” said Harris, who is serving out the council term of Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “Neighborhood protection is what I’m deeply fond of…Density belongs downtown in my opinion.”
But he added that San Diego is “facing growth that is going to come” and the city needs to work with neighborhoods to manage it.
Hundreds of people packed the auditorium of Bay Park Elementary School, with many forced to stand outside and peer through the windows.
The $1.7 billion Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project will the first major extension of the trolley system since the Green Line was completed in 2005. The line will extend north along the existing railroad right of way from Old Town through the University of California, San Diego, campus to Westfield UTC Mall.
Bill Fulton, director of the city’s Planning, Neighborhoods and Economic Development Department, said the city is a long way from having a specific plan for the Morena Boulevard corridor.
He said the latest draft proposal maintains the 30-foot height limit except for areas immediately around Tecolote Road and Clairemont Boulevard, where higher buildings would be considered, but not necessarily as high as 60 feet. He said a final plan would not be presented to the City Council for at least a year and a half.
Dozens of residents took the microphone one after another to oppose increased height, higher density, the removal of parking along Morena Boulevard, crime by trolley riders, loss of property value, and whether the trolley is even necessary.
“What we want is what we have right now…and leave us in peace,” said one resident.
One resident was shouted down when she said she was living with her parents because she couldn’t afford housing and would welcome new development.
City council candidate Sarah Boot waited in line and took to the microphone to tell the crowd she would “fight with you to protect that (30-foot) height limit.”