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City Council Ratifies Four Housing, Business Development Ordinances

A conceptual rendering shows potential build-out of the Morena Corridor Speci...

Credit: City of San Diego

Above: A conceptual rendering shows potential build-out of the Morena Corridor Specific Plan near a future trolley station.

The San Diego City Council voted Tuesday to ratify multiple ordinances intended to increase housing and business development around the city.

The council gave final approval to an ordinance to add a mixed-use development category to the city's municipal code as well as the Balboa Avenue Station Area Specific Plan and the Morena Corridor Specific Plan, both of which would rezone areas along Morena Boulevard to allow for a spike in housing development near multiple future trolley stations.

The council originally approved the mixed-use amendment July 29 and the two specific plans July 30, all by unanimous votes. The council's second votes for all three on Tuesday were also unanimous.

On a 6-3 vote, the council also gave its final approval to a 420,000- square-foot commercial office development in Torrey Highlands. The council first approved the development by a 6-3 vote Aug. 5.

City officials proposed adding a mixed-use zoning category after receiving multiple proposals to build such developments, which currently require special discretionary permitting that takes longer to process and costs more money.

Mixed-use zoning will be available for developments that are primarily residential or employment-based. Secondary uses for mixed-use developments include residential space, employment space, offices and retail units. Rezoning for current projects will take roughly 12-18 months, according to city staff.

Mixed-use developments are also intended to be located in so-called transit priority areas, which the city defines as sitting within a half-mile of an existing transit stop or one that is funded and scheduled to be completed within five years.

The Balboa Avenue and Morena Corridor specific plans will allow for the development of more than 9,000 housing units near future transit stations in Pacific Beach, Clairemont Mesa and Linda Vista. The two plans amended the city's Pacific Beach and Linda Vista community plans, respectively, which place fixed limits on housing growth.

The Balboa Avenue plan will allow for the development of an additional 3,508 housing units within a half-mile of a planned trolley station at the corner of Morena Boulevard and Balboa Avenue. Prior to the plan's approval, the city's Pacific Beach Community Plan only allowed for the development of roughly 1,200 housing units.

The Morena Corridor plan will allow for the development of 5,630 additional housing units over the 1,386 previously allowed in the Linda Vista Community Plan. The housing units will be constructed within one half-mile of future trolley stations at the Tecolote Road and Clairemont Drive intersections with Morena Boulevard.

Both plans are an effort to take advantage of the $2.17 billion Mid- Coast Trolley Blue Line Extension, which includes a planned 11-mile extension of trolley service by San Diego's Metropolitan Transit System from Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego to University City.

The Torrey Highlands development, dubbed the Preserve at Torrey Highlands, will consist of three office buildings, a 3,850-square-foot cafe and a 5,000-square-foot fitness center, as well as a five-story parking structure with 1,088 spots.

Two of the office buildings will stand five stories tall and include 150,000 square feet of floor space, while the third building will be four stories with 120,000 square feet of floor space. In addition, each building will include 70 to 80 subterranean parking spaces and the campus will have 62 surface parking spaces, 90 short-term bike racks and 90 long-term bike lockers.

City Council members Barbara Bry, Georgette Gomez and Monica Montgomery voted against the proposal both times, siding with environmental groups who argued the development is too close to the Del Mar Mesa Preserve and will do little to help meet the city's Climate Action Plan goals.

The campus will be located near state Route 54 and two miles from the closest bus stop.

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