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Environmental Concerns Delay New Plan For San Ysidro

Photo caption: Passengers cross the trolley tracks at the San Ysidro border station, Nov. 3,...

Photo by Oran Viriyincy / Flickr

Passengers cross the trolley tracks at the San Ysidro border station, Nov. 3, 2012.

The San Diego Planning Commission on Thursday put off a decision on whether to recommend approval of the San Ysidro Community Plan Update, a set of zoning changes meant to encourage "smart growth" development.

The delay was prompted by concerns among some environmental groups that the city did not adequately measure the update's conformance with the Climate Action Plan. That law was passed by the City Council last December and requires big cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, largely by encouraging San Diegans to commute to work without a car.

The Planning Commission is a board of community members appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council that makes recommendations on whether to approve or deny various projects and zoning changes.

RELATED: North Park Offers Early Test Of Climate Action Plan

Several commissioners were concerned by a letter from the Coast Law Group and the Climate Action Campaign accusing the city of failing to provide a data-driven analysis of how several community plan updates accomplish the goals of the Climate Action Plan. The letter took issue with the environmental impact reports of community plan updates in San Ysidro, North Park, Golden Hill and Uptown.

"Unfortunately when we evaluated the analysis that was done, it was basically fatally flawed because there wasn't an analysis," Climate Action Plan campaign director Nicole Capretz told the commission. "It didn't let us know with any data ... exactly how these plans were going to achieve the (greenhouse gas reduction) targets."

Commissioner Theresa Quiroz agreed with the lackluster review of the city's analyses, and said the changes in San Ysidro would set the tone for the entire implementation of the Climate Action Plan.

"This is our first community plan update after the approval of the Climate Action Plan, and we need to get this right," Quiroz said. "We need to get this right so that we don't make a mockery of our Climate Action Plan ... (and) so that all of our updates don't spend years in court only to end up with the city doing what Ms. Capretz is asking of us now."

Quiroz added that San Ysidro should have more ambitious increases to housing density, particularly around the neighborhood's trolley stations. North Park, she said, was being asked to accept much higher density when it is not served by the trolley.

The Planning Commission ultimately voted to delay a vote until Oct. 6, when city staffers will give an update on their efforts to further analyze the plan's compliance with the climate plan.

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