Roundtable: City Code Breakers; More One Paseo; 2014 Economic Outlook
Developers Reshape City's Development Codes
One of the most important advisory groups in San Diego city government is a small group you've probably never heard of. It is nearly autonomous and unaccountable to the public or elected officials. It publishes no agendas and records no votes.
It is the City of San Diego’s Code Monitoring Team, a group of 18 mostly development professionals that meets once a month in City Hall. Its goal is to reshape San Diego’s land-development code.
The video under the credits for this week's KPBS Roundtable was of the paddle-out honoring the life of newscaster Loren Nancarrow.
It was provided to KPBS by local photographer John Cocozza
The team was formed in 1998 and tasked with finding and filling gaps in the code. Now, reports San Diego Reader's Dorian Hargrove, the mostly unregulated and unknown group weighs in on policy issues of concern to communities, including the volatile issue of building height limits.
The team was supposed to be a diverse group representing many community interests. Today, of the 15 filled positions (three are vacant), only one member is a community planner. The others are developers, architects and land-use lobbyists.
The Code Monitoring Team is not required to follow the Brown Act provisions, including posting agendas, documenting votes or filing economic interest disclosures. The team’s suggestions appear on the front page of staff reports to San Diego City Council committees and planning-commission dockets.
One Paseo: Walkable Village Or Massive Development?
Twenty-three acres of vacant land at the corner of El Camino Real and Del Mar Heights Road in Carmel Valley are owned by Killroy Realty. The plot sits directly across the street from the Del Mar Highlands shopping center, with its two grocery stores, upscale movie theaters, multiple restaurants, big book store and a parking area that many visitors would call inadequate, if they are being polite.
Under the Carmel Valley Community Plan, the Killroy property is zoned for 500,000 square feet of office space. But the company has proposed a mixed-use development of 1.4 million square feet, downsized from its original plan for 1.8 million square feet.
A struggle between residents and the developers over what will be built has gone on for years. Many residents and, unsurprisingly, the owners of the center across the street say the project is way too big for the area and will create too much traffic, which will hamper emergency vehicles from getting to Del Mar and Del Mar Heights.
Others say that One Paseo is an example of "suburban retrofitting" — that is, remaking an area entirely dependent on the automobile into something that fits into the "city of villages" concept.
It is expected that 2014 will be the year the rubber meets the road when votes are taken by the local planning board, the City Council Planning Commission and finally, the full San Diego City Council.
San Diego's Economic Outlook for 2014
If the experts are right, the economic outlook for the San Diego region for 2014 is fairly rosy. Some economists are predicting that the San Diego economy will grow faster next year than it did this year — and it did pretty well this year.
In 2013, total employment here grew to 1.3 million, the highest level since the collapse of 2008. The jobless rate fell from 8.3 percent to 6.8 percent as we added 22,700 new jobs. Some predict that in 2014, San Diego’s jobless rate will fall below 6 percent.
The sand in this soothing ointment is the fact that most of the new jobs are low-paying: New jobs in 2013 came from bars and restaurants (12 percent); new construction (11 percent); retail (10 percent); private schools (3 percent); and professional and technical services (2 percent).