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Mission Valley Project Gets Planning Commission Go-Ahead

— There's been strong opposition to a new development along the San Diego River. But the San Diego Planning Commission approved it anyway.

A plan to build nearly 1,000 homes along the San Diego River will go before the City Council.

The development is called Riverbend, which would bring nearly a thousand new apartments and condos to the Grantville neighborhood. Opponents and supporters gathered at City Hall to speak on the subject. The controversy revolves around the question of whether the project is too large and dense, or whether it’s a smart-growth center which is just what the San Diego River deserves.

The homes would be built on an old industrial site, between the San Diego River and Mission Gorge Road--a site that one Grantville resident called a big pile of junk.

In fact, a lot of people praised Riverbend, with its 5 acre park, as a great improvement. The park lies along the river as attached homes in buildings that rise to six stories lie between the park and Mission Gorge Road.

Sherm Harmer is an executive with Urban Housing Partners, who described Riverbend as a unique riverfront development.

“We’ve put really deep setbacks from the river,” he said. “We’ve oriented the housing to the river. We’ve put parks and active recreation on the river. It’s just unprecedented in San Diego to have such a development.”

But the proposal was voted down by a neighborhood planning group, and critics told the San Diego Planning Commission it would create traffic nightmares in a place where traffic is already heavy.

One critic was Grantville resident and Navajo Community Planning Group member Anthony Wagner, who was disappointed the project moved forward.

"It's a setback. But it doesn't mean the game is over," he said.

The game is not over because Riverbend still needs City Council approval. But if it gets that, it could become one of several developments that would bring up to 11,000 new homes to the area.

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