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San Diego Advances Uptown Community Plan Update

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A bicyclist is shown riding through Hillcrest in this undated photo.

Plans to update the road map for growth and development in Uptown have advanced to the full San Diego City Council. The plans have been the subject of debate over housing density, affordability and their compliance with the city's Climate Action Plan.

A San Diego City Council committee advanced an update to the Uptown community plan on Wednesday, but declined to recommend its approval at the full City Council.

The plan has been the subject of controversy because city planners had originally recommended decreasing housing density in parts of the planning area, which includes Hillcrest, Bankers Hill and Mission Hills. The Planning Commission rejected that idea last month, recommending the City Council approve most of Uptown's community plan update, but keep the existing density map and relax building height restrictions.

Councilman Todd Gloria, whose district includes Uptown, said he was not inclined to decrease the maximum density because the city is suffering from an acute housing crisis.

"I sought this office eight years ago because I care deeply about housing and homelessness," Gloria said at the Smart Growth and Land Use Committee meeting. "So it is no surprise to, I think, anyone in this room that I have a strong concern about any reduction in the number of overall units."

RELATED: North Park Offers Early Test Of Climate Action Plan

Several speakers asked during public comment that the City Council support an alternative update to the community plan that would have reduced the maximum number of housing units even more than what city staffers had originally recommended. The plan would have also decreased housing density in Hillcrest, which is served by several public transit routes.

City planners abandoned that alternative this summer, saying it would have violated the Climate Action Plan's goal of encouraging public transit ridership.

"Increasing densities and providing transportation choices are how other formerly car-centric cities are transforming themselves over time," said Dana Hook, a member of the Uptown Planners, a volunteer board that advises the city on development issues. "I hope that San Diego joins these thoughtful communities in addressing our own issues."

The committee's unanimous vote forwards the Uptown community plan update to the full City Council, which expects to hear it in mid-November. On Tuesday, the full council is scheduled to vote on community plan updates for North Park and Golden Hill. All four community plan updates the City Council is considering fall short of the city's ambitious goal of drastically reducing car dependence over the next 20 years, according to the city's own analysis.

Prior to the vote on Uptown, the committee recommended approval of the San Ysidro community plan update with no controversy.

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Andrew Bowen
Metro Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover local government — a broad beat that includes housing, homelessness and infrastructure. I'm especially interested in the intersections of land use, transportation and climate change.

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