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As San Diego City Council Reconvenes, Big Decisions Loom

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As San Diego City Council Reconvenes, Big Decisions Loom
As San Diego City Council Reconvenes, Big Decisions Loom GUEST:Andrew Bowen, reporter, KPBS News

I am Maureen Cavanaugh . I top story in midday edition come the San Diego city Council is back in session after his August break. Coming up on the agenda will be a number of new community plans. Although the plans communities community submit for the future of the neighborhood is not usually the exciting topic, now they are crucial to the success of the city's action plan. Decisions regarding housing density and transportation can make the difference between San Diego for -- as a model for the nation or a plan that did not work. Joining me is Andrew BALLWIN. Welcome. ;-). Give us a sense of the process behind the development of these community plans, what does it entail [ Indiscernible- Participant too far away from microphone ] they are crafted by the city planning department in collaboration with various stakeholders. That is businesses an average residence. And perhaps the greatest role is community planning groups. Those are advisory to the city and make recommendations on whether a project to be approved or not. And the community plan update that I have covered the most is the one in North Park. That is where I live. And the community planning group there in the city have been working on this plan for eight years. That has been 4 different mayors and five planning directors. These documents are long and complicated. And they often last for decades. The ones that are due to be passed our guiding development in these neighborhoods for decades to come. In addition to North Park, Golden Hill, uptown and San Ysidro, which he does plan stand today ? The for the salon is San Ysidro. That went before the commission in August. But, the planning commission delayed a vote on whether to recommend approval of the plan . That was because of fears that it was not fully comply met with the action plan. We can talk about that more later. That will be be heard next week. On the same day as the Golden Hill and North Park. Uptown is a little further behind. That's going before the commission in early October. Ultimately the city council would vote on these plans up to a month after the planning commission makes a recommendation. With a foe, is a yes or no vote ? Can they change the plan ? The Council can vote yes or no. Amending it will be a very long process. And very complicated. It could involve preparing a new in environmental impact report. I have gotten the sense from a lot of people, both at the city and different communities that the city needs to pass these things and move on. Because, trying to make each and every detail perfect and flawless is nearly impossible because there are a lot of competing interests. Most of the preparation of these community plan updates to take place before the climate action plan was passed. Now the city has higher stakes and whether these things are going to work. What is the relationship between these community plans and the new climate action ? They are very essential. They are central to the city's ability to limit the climate plan. That they are responsible for implementing the climate action plan. But it does not have exclusive authority over things that are relevant. Transportation, the city has a seat on the Association of governments which plans transportation but, they are not responsible for operating those things. Zoning and land use are in the city's authority. And the idea is to use zoning, and land use decisions to build more walkable, compact communities near public transit and bike facilities so people are not driving as much. Emitting less pollution and that we are slowing down climate change. Can these plans, could they be read as an indicator that the neighborhoods are on board with the action plan ? Most San Diego ends are aware of climate change and the threat that it causes to us. And they are aware of our need to reduce driving. But I think this process is to show is whether the neighborhoods or the few people in those neighborhoods who are politically engaged, whether they are on board with the goals and the tough decisions and the sacrifices that are going to be necessary in order to meet the goals of the climate plan. That is the definition of a knot in my backyard. You agree with something in principle that we should be driving less or reducing our dependence on cars, but when it comes to high density apartments, my neighborhood is single family homes or eliminating free parking or eliminating lanes of traffic, that is another question. That is asking me to change my lifestyle and a much tougher decision to make. And these will come before the Council next month ? Yes, probably next month, you never know with the city's agenda, but most of them will probably be in October or November. I have been speaking with Andrew Bolin thank you.

As San Diego City Council Reconvenes, Big Decisions Loom
The San Diego City Council reconvenes Monday after a one-month recess. Some of the biggest items on the agenda are four community plan updates, one of which has hit a delay over environmental concerns.

The San Diego City Council reconvenes Monday after a one-month recess with little on the immediate agenda but several big decisions in the months ahead.

Among those big decisions are a batch of community plan updates — lengthy documents that are used to guide neighborhoods' long term development — covering North Park, Golden Hill, Uptown and San Ysidro.

The North Park Planning Committee, which advises the city on development and has been working on that neighborhood's community plan update for eight years, voted last week to recommend the plan's approval. It also asked the city to strengthen protections for the neighborhood's historic buildings.

Uptown Planners, which represents Bankers Hill, Hillcrest, Mission Hills and part of University Heights, is scheduled to vote on their community plan update on Oct. 4. That group has shown much more hostility toward high-density housing. Community planning groups like those in North Park and Uptown are advisory only, and the City Council is not bound by their decisions.

The plan for San Ysidro faced a delay recently over concerns that it wasn't fully compliant with the city's Climate Action Plan. Environmental groups want city staffers to do a data-driven analysis proving the neighborhood's zoning changes will shift enough people away from cars and into alternative modes of transportation.

Council votes on the four community plan updates have not yet been scheduled, but they are likely to take place in October.

Community plan updates are one of the city's chief mechanisms for implementing the Climate Action Plan, which binds the city to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2035. The goal is to build more walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, and to concentrate dense housing and business development around public transit hubs to reduce San Diego's dependence on cars.

Close behind the four larger community plan updates is an amendment to the University Community Plan, which the City Council expects to vote on in November. The amendment includes the deletion of two transportation projects: the Regents Road Bridge, once the focus of intense debate among city planners, environmentalists and neighborhood activists; and the widening of Genesee Avenue. University City is instead slated for an extension of the Blue Line trolley along the Interstate 5 corridor.