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Roundtable: Another Referendum; The Future of Logan Heights; Bike Lane Backlash

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Roundtable: Another Referendum; The Future of Logan Heights

One Paseo Update

Opponents of the One Paseo project are fighting on. Led by City Council President Sherri Lightner, they delivered 60,000 signatures this week to keep the development out of Carmel Valley. But the developers aren’t giving up either. They countered by collecting nearly 30,000 signatures of people who signed, but now want their names removed from the anti­ Paseo petitions. Backers also funded a bogus campaign, just so they could snatch up the best petition workers.

Roundtable: Another Referendum; The Future of Logan Heights; Bike Lane Backlash
One Paseo Update, Logan Heights community plan, Bike Lane BacklashHOST:Mark SauerGUESTS:Claire Trageser, KPBS News Andrew Keats, Voice of San Diego Dorian Hargrove, San Diego Reader

Welcome to our discussion of the weeks top stories I'm Mark Sauer. Joining me at the roundtable today are KPBS enterprise reporter Claire Trageser it is good to have you back reporter Dorian Hargrove of the San Diego reader and reporter Andrew Keats of Voice of San Diego. Once again the San Diego City Council made a decision on a controversial issue. Once again well-funded folks on the losing end are saying not so fast. Earlier this month the Council approved the massive One Paseo project in Carmel Valley but area residents opposed to the project refuse to give up the fight. They launched a petition drive like several other groups have recently, and there a to bypass City Council and put the matter before voters. Claire, let's start with an overview of the scope of the project. It is a big one, right? Yes. Mixed-use housing, office space, retail space, 23.6 acres at maybe one maybe one and a half million square feet, 600 housing units, I think a think a movie theater, businesses , things like that. It is a real big one. And the price tag is $750 million three quarters of $1 billion. Yes. Andy why are the folks up they are just not taking this lying down? The biggest thing is traffic which is usually the biggest opposition to any large development. Again, tell us exactly where it is? Redick Delmar Heights and El Camino. Already a busy area. Already a busier people would say it is already congested is going to make things worse. It is crucially about One Paseo there is no transit serving it so there is a big controversy about whether it is fair to call this smart growth or whether it is fair to call this the sort of development the city has been pushing all over the city, if in fact it isn't connected to transit. We will get into that in a moment. We do have a clip of councilwomen Sherri Lightner, she is of course in that district, one of those opposed on the council to this was here and she had to say dropping off axis this week of signatures. Once San Diego ends learned that the approval of One Paseo was about more than Carmel Valley that it might set a dangerous precedent for developments to bring massive, new projects to their own communities, they acted quickly to add their names to the cause. All right, housetrained now was, they do have a lot of petitions do they not? How many do they need and where are they out on this? The number kept going up and up at the actual event to where they dropped that the signatures they said they had 55,000. I checked last night it is up to 61,000 signatures, which would put it on the ballot I think they need dirty 30002 actually. Go through and check. The interesting thing this time is that I don't think this has ever happened before the opposing side who is pro- One Paseo. Back in the development. Says they have half as many requests to remove signatures from the petition so they went out, got people to sign say hoops I signed this thing I didn't know what it was I want to take back my signature so the question is how many of the people who signed those actually signed in the first place if they have enough that could mean that it won't qualify for the ballot. Sounds like a lot of fun for the clerks the have to go through this and sort this out so Andy another twist to this the bogus campaign on the side explain what that is about? And initially they kind of Kilroy to the developer of the project threw everything they had at it instead of sitting back we have the money so instead of sitting back watching our opponents gather as many signatures as possible let's spend our money in whatever ways we can one of the ways they came up with was a phone petition to say yes I support the welding Chargers Stadium. But the real benefit of doing that wasn't dash's signatures meant nothing they couldn't have been less significant but they were trying to compete by essentially stealing the signature gatherers themselves so if they were working for them to collect those signatures that meant they couldn't be working for the opponents. Diluting the force the gets the signatures a game we should point it they get money for this every signature. Definitely I talk to Rachel Lang who is the spokesperson for the developers of the One Paseo project and she fully admitted we made up this petition not even ever intending to collect signatures for it to be able to hire people to work for this keep the Chargers in San Diego petition and then they have those people in reserve so they can send them out to get people to sign these rescission request saying take back my signature. That is a new twist something that is become almost common here and as I said at the outset you have to 30 count -- the City Council representatives of people making a decision somebody on the losing end of that does not like the decision so let's try and take a before the voters and if my numbers are right since 2013 just a short while ago this is the fifth time this is happened. I checked into this, the that one in San Diego since 2013 and all the other major cities in California there have been four combined since 2012. So this is a real popular here as we discussed we have the other side coming in now and doing -- I don't remember the numbers being this high for the wage referendum, -- The numbers. Number of signatures. The minimum wage was 56,000 I think. So they ended up having maybe 2900 rescission request. Clearly not nearly as many rescission request. The number of signatures they gathered I think that is standard they want to get that many because they need to go so far over to be sure the actual signatures are valid. I think what is really knew that we are seeing here is there is money on both sides of the issue and it creates a completely different dynamic , when we had an Barrio Logan when this went forward there was a lot of money, financial support -- The committee plan industry wasn't happy with. The community that supported the plan didn't have the firepower to go tote to tell with the shipyards. Minimum wage would of thought they did there was unanimity that could've come out of bed wasn't anywhere near as much as Chamber of Commerce and same thing with linkage be a way to raise money to subsidize housing also didn't have anywhere near the type of support to do this counter measure. Also just becoming now you talk to City Councilman Todd Gloria he says we are planning for these referendums. The finish line isn't getting it through the Council, it is getting it through the referendum. So people I am sure Kilroy was planning all along once this passes the City Council then we will have a referendum driving so we need to be prepared for that. Already have their plans underway for how to counter that that. Todd Gloria wants to make it tougher he wants to raise the bar a few more hurdles for folks getting these petition drives together. Is part of the charter review process he submitted this memo saying let's look at the city charter roles for how referendum are done there isn't a whole lot he can change at the city level I think one of the things is he wants people against the referendum drive to be in the room when counting the signatures because right now only the people against the minimum wage increase go out and get signatures, they are the ones we get to be there when they count the signatures and he says both sides should be there to make sure everything is on the up and up. Also something that would make it so you would know earlier who was funding the signature drives because I think in the case of minimum wage it turned out there were big restaurant lobbying groups behind the petition drive and people did not know that while it was going on. We have a short time that the limiter this out to the panel this demands a lot of the voter do you have to be pretty knowledgeable to see what I am signing, what is the counter petition the Obama decide what what is the issue? The stories all over 10 of one signature gatherers are saying to get each signature. That is throughout various campaigns? Writes. Anytime there is a legal challenge pretty much a judge has said I can't parse through whether each one of these people did or did not know if they were signing it is an impossibility so they pretty much get it through , all of which reinforces signature gatherers incentives to say whatever they need to say to get a signature. You are getting paid per signature. Not bending the truth that there is outright lies sometimes as some of these campaigns we have reported on an other folks have reported on as well. There was a lot of reports, do you want Walmart to be built in Carmel Valley to be clear this is a high-end shopping center like far from Walmart. What about the cost to put on the ballot does the city have to pay for that? Yes. But now it just goes to the next -- used to be the city would have to call a special election that would make the City Council back off more often when they were presented with these referendums. Now it just goes on the next one so it this is successful it will go on June, 2016 if the city council decides to hold their ground and not back off of it. Along with minimum wage? Writes. And wage -- Certainly watching to see what happens and if it gets established on the ballot are not. Turn now to the Logan Heights neighborhood downtown Eastside in the has several features favored by those planning the city future. The trolley runs through it with two, centrally located, right for gentrification with old, industrial this is been replaced by new housing. There isn't a groundswell of residents opposing city smart growth ideas as there are in other neighborhoods but Andy, you wrote this week many in Logan Heights still are not crazy about the whole idea. What is going on? It is kind of a weird situation that is different than with the city has encountered elsewhere with a have proposed up zones , on Marino Boulevard they went through this process and got a huge amount of community opposition in Grantville it has been the same thing where they have done this increased amount of new housing back in the bill here, try to make it all built around the trolley, connect people in a way they don't have to be relying on their cars. Select the idea is to stop sprawl get more dense around transit. Bill Greer we have decided to build. Where we can move people in it out. Move people in and out efficiently. The city got $500,000 from Please stand by for realtime captions to read of a plant based around this principle meanwhile they are going all around the city proposing these ideas everywhere. They are not getting that type of opposition it is not in opposition to density per se in this case, there is a fear that if you improve the community and provide these things people do wants it won't be them who gets to benefit they will end up getting pushed out and display. Priced out of their ownIs a very different dynamic than you have seen elsewhere. So against it for a different reason. And I want to say they are not against it they are for it but there is some fear. Very wary about it let me do a little housekeeping here tell us specifically the area we are talking about in this community? They have money for the commercial and imperial corridor running east of downtown. The first two trolley stops on the Orange line when you get out of downtown right into this neighborhood. If you go down there now on commercial they have done exactly what you would expect in terms of zoning around the station at 25th St., 25th and commercial. Another one of 30 seconds Street which right now if you go there it is bleak, desolate, auto wrecking shops, junkyards, metal scrapping facilities, recycling yards and there is a trolley stop. This is not a job center. This isn't high-end manufacturing type of jobs President Obama talks about wanting to build to reestablish the middle class. This is a few jobs at these very small area. Scrap metal plants, auto -- Right next to homes you have homes tucked in between this battle of situations here in yet the city has decided not to rezone the industrial area and try to encourage it to become this idea of mixed use urban development despite its proximity to downtown and despite the trolley service. Give us a little bit about the demographics were the folks that live there? Predominantly Mexican-American community lower income working class neighborhood and that is exactly the point. These jobs are very often downtown. The hotel workers, in many cases shipyard workers in Barrio Logan and they -- it is very practical for them to use public transit to get down there and I have to rely on a car if the city would develop it. It seems to me from reading your story and caught the councilmember for that district, David Alvarez of course ran for mayor in our special election here in the neighboring committee of a Barrio Logan on the whole idea we want this community planned to improve and gentrify the area and change. He was caught unawares by some of the sentiment you are describing an Logan Heights? He just assumed we are rewriting the plan for the area, we have this large citywide initiative this is the type of thing we are pushing for, why wouldn't at this 32nd St. Area, why would we change these development restrictions. So when they did and he was it was doubly surprised. I should say as a requirement for environmental review for these plans you have to have some alternative someone of the alternatives does study the possibility of making it mixed used instead of industrial. He said basically, that is something I would be prepared to support when this eventually comes forward to City Council. Claire? Is a standard that I councilmember would just stay out of -- I read in your story he said he didn't want to influence the. Is that usually the way that goes, do you know? The way he said it was in the early process, it is time for me to stay out and he said this is basically the and of the early process. Is going to come out of environmental review so now is a good time for me to start discussing what I would like from a policy side. I think it would be fair to ask whether that's the best way. What he is saying is, we don't need politics meddling with city functions at the early phase. But city planners do their jobs, they are professionals, but the community have its chance for input without political actors starting to metal in the situation. Now, the alternative , we are spending a lot of money here if they are not doing something you are ready to support maybe you could way in a little earlier and start exerting their influence because if you are not going to support it, there is really not that much reason to spend $1 million four years of time getting to this point in the first place. Is still has to go to the City Council. Ultimately. A few seconds left with this one, the other neighborhoods, is some neighborhood going to be the model for this is not the three we're talking about today, this area, where are we going to get the smart growth example? Right now basically you are getting it in downtown and there is without much planning underway there is a lot of it happening in Mission Valley. Mission Valley right now sucking up a lot of the city's development needs. We may see the smart growth model there at some point? It is an open discussion whether that is the best place for necessarily as opposed to somewhere like this, much closer to downtown. In the absence of any sort of plan from above, developers are stepping into the void and it is really happening in Mission Valley. We will move on. The car culture is as much a part of our region as sunshine and fair weather and on those sunny days of course but also make this a paradise for bicycle riders. The conflict comes where the rubber meets the road. Cars and bikes don't meld easily. Bikes are favored by planners these days and the push to limit the burning of fossil fuels due to climate change. Some leaders say bike advocates are going to far and the conflict is embodied within two bike lane proposals and since we're sitting here on the campus let's start with a few blocks from where we are here today from the studio, along the College Avenue. Tell us about the proposal? Is called help campus Plaza project. And 18-acre development it will house I think 1600 students along with retail and commercial space and open green. Hold mixed-use project? Yeah. What they want to do is, a want to turn pretty much a adjacent to the college, it is the college, they want to turn it into more of a pedestrian /bike area right right in front. So they have come up with , basically abandoned their one plan of addressing traffic outfront and move towards a biking , walking, more pedestrian type project. You have the coming up from Interstate eight to tell folks at South of Interstate eight come up the hill College Avenue already very busy and they want to take some of that space for the regular traffic now and turn it into bike lanes and pedestrian area and crowd that even further. There are some people not keen on that. The original plan was part of the project in order to mitigate for traffic, obviously everyone knows that drives around the college right there is a very busy spot especially trying to get onto the eight or off of the eight. So in the beginning, it was planned lanes would go from two lanes each way to relate. Those are cars? Yes. And that would be the mitigation. That would be the way to address the traffic impacts. Somehow this happened unbeknownst to some residents is that the college changed their plan and build into this more bike friendly alternative. The alternative was even listed in the environmental impact report. Obviously you can imagine residents -- You pulled a fast one here what is going on? Of course the leading voice on that is councilmember Marti MRL and what does she have to say? What is her beef? She is standing with the residents. Make sure , her office made sure to tell me as well, she is supportive of bike lanes. No question. When they want to be built. The concept. David Alvarez' district? In this two block area. Just because of its proximity. Anyone going North on college they are either not going to get on the eight on a bike or they are going -- Let's face it it is a big kill I to write a bike I had an electric like and I got rid of that. I would never make it up the hill on either side of the freeway. She says adamantly she wants bike lanes and all other districts besides this two block area and where they are being proposed going on Montezuma or some other way to connect them to the college area. Obviously you have residents that say this whole thing is only going to create more missions it will reduce them because cars are going to be sitting idly celebrity for traffic likes, forever to get down the hill and onto -- Because there is development further down the hill, right? That is the plan? Why more people will be coming that way? I think that development alone as well. Looking toward the north toward I ate? Obvious need already and actually 1989 it was part of the city plan to increase this number of lanes and in 2013 the city came out with a bike plan or master plan and that called for wider bike lanes there is some conflict, regardless of development it has always been on the radar. Cycling advocates say we need this, this has got to happen this is the overall plant this is the future? As far as increased lanes they call it induced demand I believe is with the color and with increased lanes comes increased traffic and it is harder, more difficult , more dangerous I should say for a cyclist if the lanes -- roads are bigger. Ultimately get the same idly you would get, it just takes a little while for the market to react and start filling up those lanes that tends to be we see. Before we leave this summer to the other area , and other controversy, where does this conflict in the college area stand? What is the status? Because of the way was done as far as the change put into development services Department and not part of the environment impact report there is going to be some back-and-forth. The city has a plan, they will comment and give it back to the college. The college will then decide , then come back, there has to be some sort of agreement eventually reached. Let's switch to the OFAM on Hillcrest Mission Hills area a plan to close the section of University Avenue. Tell us what section we are talking about what is the overall idea their? Part of a much larger bike plan from Sandag using transportation TransNet funds to pay for this I think $2 million dollars for the regional bike plan the uptown bike lane project is part of this they want to connect old town to uptown to Mission Valley to downtown to North Park. There is one specific part of uptown they want to take away the on and off ramp onto University from Washington Avenue which is a busy little area. They reviewed the on and off ramp and closed portions two block portion of University to make it full just pedestrian area. Silverware do cars go at that point? They go on to Washington and make a right and get back onto University. Permanent detour around that? University down through Hillcrest will also be more pedestrian friendly. Cars on their will be either dedicated raised bike path or some sort of way bicyclist really have a safe option. We have the same thing going on their cyclist are all for it and residents say traffic nightmare. For the residents of Mission Hills they are saying really Washington Avenue is just jammed already. Two major hospitals there, -- A lot of businesses. A lot of businesses and they say with more traffic having to be diverted it is going to ruin property values and everything else. Obviously the cyclists want this so it is definitely a debate. Go ahead, Claire. It is interesting the city has a climate action plan where it is supposed to be cycling as commuting supposed to go from one to 18%. 6% by 2020 and 18% -- How are we going to encourage -- Every time there is an idea let's make it safer for bicyclists, I think that is what the main reasons people don't like to ride to get around the city it feels dangerous but every time we are saying okay let's do it hear people say no, not here I'd like in general butThe thing you see occurring all across the city all kinds of issues happy to support something in the abstract and any specific instance of it an actual affected party understands against it being unwilling to tell them essentially tough and you see it with density, bike lanes, transit, everybody likes the concept and recognizes the regional need to encourage these things but no one is ever able to stand up to a local issue. Classic not in my backyard. One of the major issues they have in Sandag has it addressed it, the whole just in the uptown area alone from Washington to normal Street in Hillcrest will remove 33% of the of the parking in uptown so it is a major , major blow to parking. Obsolete you have some Hillcrest business owner saying we are already strapped when it comes to parking. Parking already a nightmare in the area. Cyclist saying if you make it more pedestrian friendly you have more options because people are going to be slower , they want to make Hillcrest -- A couple seconds what is the status of this one? Sandag still has a bunch of work to do with meetings and then they will go to an environmental impact. A lot more voices to be heard. That does wrap up another week of stories of the KPBS Roundtable. I would like to thank my guest, Claire Trageser at the devious news, Dorian Hargrove with the San Diego reader and Andrew Keats of Voice of San Diego. A reminder all the stories we discussed today are available on our website KPBS.org. I Mark Sauer thanks for joining us today on the Roundtable.

This is the fifth attempt to overturn decisions by San Diego lawmakers since December 2013, including an increase in the minimum wage, a new community plan for Barrio Logan, and a development fee that would have helped pay for affordable housing. Councilman Todd Gloria is not amused and would like to make the referendum process more difficult.

Logan Heights Community Plan

While Logan Heights residents aren’t as opposed to “smart growth” and density as their neighbors to the north, they do fear change. And it’s not the traffic, new people and crime they’re worried about. It’s that they will be priced out if their neighborhood improves. A proposed community plan leaves an industrial area as it is instead of setting it aside for homes. And that’s just fine with residents, who live next to auto­-wrecking plants and scrap metal yards. But it’s not fine by Councilman David Alvarez, who fought against homes slammed next to industry in Barrio Logan. And it emphasizes how badly lacking the city is for affordable housing.

Bike Lane Backlash

The climate action plan recently released by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer calls for an increase in the number of people who bike to work from 1 percent to 18 percent by 2035. It makes sense that local governments are pushing to make the region more bike friendly. More bikes on the road means less greenhouse-gas emissions, healthier residents and cheaper commutes. But how to do it? Business owners in Hillcrest are pushing back against a plan for a protected bike lane along University Avenue. And in the College Area, Councilwoman Marti Emerald is asking for a proposed bike lane to be denied, in favor of additional lanes for vehicular traffic.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.