San Diego tests program that allows unlimited housing density
Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Friday, April 15th.
What would happen with “unlimited density”
More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….
The final results are in for the 80th assembly district race. Democrats Georgette Gomez and David Alvarez both had about 38% of the vote. Now They’re headed for a run off in early June. The winner in June will fill the seat through the end of the year, the remainder of the term. The seat had previously been held by Former Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez. Gomez and Alvarez will be on the June ballot a second time in a primary race for that same seat’s next term, which starts in 2023.
An Oceanside-based finance company will pay more than nine hundred thousand dollars to settle allegations that it was illegally leasing dogs in Massachusetts. Leasing a dog is much like leasing a car, the consumer makes monthly payments, plus an additional payment at the end of the lease to ultimately own the dog. Missed payments can result in the dog being repossessed. As part of the settlement announced Wednesday, Monterey Financial Services LLC will have to stop collecting on active leases, pay restitution to consumers and fees to the state. They’ll also have to transfer full ownership of the dogs to Massachusetts residents. Leasing dogs is illegal there.
The San Diego Padres had their home opener against the Atlanta Braves last night. They beat the Braves 12 to 1. Downtown businesses welcomed the crowds the game brought in. Alex Rodriguez is the owner of El Puerto Seafood by the ball field.
IT’S ONE OF OUR BIGGEST DAYS OF THE YEAR FOR US”
He says with baseball’s recent lockout he wasn’t sure the home opener would come this year.
From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.
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A year and a half ago, San Diego started a radical experiment with housing policy. It approved "Complete Communities," a program that allows developers to build apartments near public transit with unlimited density and unlimited height. In exchange, they have to set aside a greater share of their homes as affordable housing.
KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the program is showing results — and sparking opposition.
AB: Construction is just getting started at 901 West Washington Street in Mission Hills. This is where Soheil Nakhshab is building 54 studio apartments. They'll be compact, he says, like a Swiss Army knife.
SN: As you can see from these renderings we have built-in sofa that transitions and becomes a bed, we have tables that come out of the wall, abundant storage…
AB: Nakhshab is using Complete Communities, a program that lets developers build as many apartments as will fit on a given lot with no limits on density or height. Instead the limit is on floor space, meaning the taller the building, the more slender it has to be. It's a new approach to housing that encourages smaller, less expensive homes. And if the goal was to get more housing built, early results show it's working. If Nakhshab were to build according to the site's official zoning, his project would shrink from 54 homes to 9. And the five low- and middle-income affordable homes in his project would be gone.
NAKHSHAB DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT
SN: Think about it. If it’s only 9 units and I'm already into the land for 2 million dollars, I have to build super high-end luxury just to recover my initial basis into the properties. So … these are not going to be rentals. It's just going to be super bougie units. That doesn’t add value to our community, it doesn’t activate our community.
AB: Unlimited height might conjure images of skyscrapers. But most, if not all the Complete Communities projects are around 8 stories or less. Nakhshab says high rises trigger expensive building code requirements that don't make economic sense.
SN: Specifically with these urban infill sites that are so small, it consumes so much of the footprint that you're not really able to find the sweet spot of maximizing the dwelling units that you're trying to achieve, which is the goal for everybody is create more dwelling units.
AB: Nakhshab's project is one of four apartment buildings that's been approved under Complete Communities. Another 10 projects are pending approval, and more are popping up every month. All together, the program has tripled the number of homes that would normally be allowed on these sites.
MA: So we will have some on-grade parking and then we'll have a little bit of below-grade parking. And then in between the two buildings we be like a promenade.
AB: Another project using Complete Communities is ShoreLINE. It's 100% affordable low-income housing, mostly two and three bedrooms, right by the Grantville trolley station. Marie Allen of Affirmed Housing says it wasn't unlimited height or density that attracted her to Complete Communities. It was relief from development impact fees. The program gives a steep discount on those fees for affordable housing. Allen says that saved the project about a million dollars, which helped immensely when applying for affordable housing tax credits.
MA: The savings that Complete Communities provided meant that we needed less subsidy from the state. And the less subsidy we ask for from the state, the more competitive we are. If we’re not competitive, we have to wait another 6 to 9 months again.
AB: Complete Communities is designed to be resistant to neighborhood opposition, letting projects bypass the Planning Commission and City Council and get approval directly from city staffers. But that opposition hasn’t gone away.
Voxpop: "I'm extremely opposed to this building for a number of reasons." "This is just way too much, too big." "A seven story building will stand out." "Insufficient parking, and… What is the community getting out of this?"
AB: That was Nicole Phillips, Kim Emerson, Blake Thomure and Frances Prichett speaking at a recent meeting of the Normal Heights Community Planning Group. They're all opposed to a 175-unit apartment building proposed on Adams Avenue. The developer intends to use Complete Communities to build more than six times the density and more than double the height. Resident Adam Deutsch sums it up.
NORMAL HEIGHTS RESIDENT
AD: This project simply doesn't fit the community plan.
AB: Still, the community plan for Normal Heights hasn't been updated in a quarter century. And in a housing market where scarcity is driving steep inflation in home prices and rents, Complete Communities is proving extremely effective at getting a lot more housing built fast. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.
The city of san diego and the county planning agency, SANDAG are working on a new plan that would connect public transit to the airport.
The first step would be a new transit station at the port of San Diego headquarters on pacific highway. That project would include an automated people-mover to passenger terminals.
Mayor Todd Gloria spoke about the timeline with kpbs midday edition.
"we think that with the right plan we can get that done relatively soon recognizing that projects of this size often take decades. we hope to do this in a matter of years."
A second, more ambitious project, would feature a grand central station at the current civic center complex that includes city hall.
Reactions are coming in to new procedures on investigating deadly shootings by local law enforcement officers. Law enforcement agencies in the county will no longer investigate their own officers in these shootings.
KPBS’ john carroll reports two major oversight groups say no one told them the change was coming.
THE NEW PROTOCOL WILL HAVE THE SAN DIEGO SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATING ALL DEADLY OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTINGS IN THE COUNTY… AND SAN DIEGO PD WILL INVESTIGATE DEADLY SHOOTINGS INVOLVING SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES. IF BOTH SDPD OFFICERS AND SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES ARE INVOLVED, THE INVESTIGATION WILL BE HANDLED BY CHULA VISTA PD.
KPBS SPOKE WITH THE HEADS OF BOTH THE CITIZENS LAW ENFORCEMENT REVIEW BOARD AND THE COMMISSION ON POLICE PRACTICES. CLERB OVERSEES DEPUTY SHOOTINGS AND THE CPP DOES THE SAME IN SAN DIEGO. CPP CHAIRMAN BRANDON HILPERT SAYS HE LEARNED OF THE CHANGE… WHILE LISTENING TO KPBS.
“WE HAVE QUARTERLY MEETINGS WITH THE CHIEF OF POLICE AND HIS STAFF, AND NOT ONCE HAVE THEY EVEN GIVEN US A HEADS UP THAT THIS IS COMING.”
THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT SAYS THE CHANGE DOESN’T AFFECT THEIR MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH CLERB… AND SAN DIEGO PD DIDN’T RESPOND TO OUR REQUEST FOR COMMENT. JC, KPBS NEWS.
A second booster shot increases immunity against covid-19 infection and protects against severe illness and hospitalization. That’s the finding of a large study out of israel. The study focused on people over the age of 60. The results support the CDC recommendation that people over 50 should get an additional booster.
Dr. christian ramers sits on san diego county’s vaccine clinical advisory group.
He told kpbs midday edition a fourth shot is targeted at older populations and the immuno-compromised. But, he says, everyone can benefit from a third shot.
“the first booster actually provides even more protection than the second booster relatively. we get a 90% reduction in death from the third booster or we did at least, so first of all we should be focused on people who have not gotten their third shot or their first booster in order to get to those who need their second one.”
Meanwhile, san diego county has reported the second pediatric death of the pandemic-- a 15-year-old girl with underlying medical conditions. She had not been vaccinated.
The annual harbor dredging project is getting underway in Oceanside... it’ll remove a buildup of sand that makes it hard for ships to get in and out safely. The dredged sand will be used to replenish beaches in the city.
Lifeguard captain Bill Curtis wants residents to be aware and stay safe around the dredge equipment.
“the big safety concern here is to stay away from the equipment and stay outside the orange coned-off areas.”
Right now crews are just laying down the pipes. The actual dredging will start next week. The project is expected to be done before memorial day weekend.
Coming up.... San Diego Unified has made a multi million dollar investment in Logan Heights schools. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.
There is an educational transformation happening in Logan Heights to bridge the achievement gap for underserved students.
San Diego Unified has made a multi-million dollar investment in the historically Hispanic neighborhood near downtown… KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez tells us they’re using an unconventional approach to learning.
These are the sounds of music in the making. It’s not perfect…but it is progress for
7th and 8th-grade band members at the new Logan Memorial Educational Campus…better known by its acronym L-M-E-C.
L-M-E-C is located in Logan Heights, and several of its budding band students come from the neighborhood’s former Logan K-8 and Memorial Prep middle schools…which the state had designated in 2019 as two of the lowest-performing schools in California…
“now we can teach kids all the way from kindergarten to high school…by the time the whole high school is finished.” :06
Serafin Paredes is the L-M-E-C band instructor, who taught music at Memorial Prep for eight years. That school was closed to make way for the new educational complex that includes classrooms for children in preschool all the way through 12th grade. Paredes is just one part of the equation that equals a new curriculum, new resources, and new opportunities for students who have been underserved for decades.
Serafin Paredes/LMEC Band Instructor
“we’re hoping to be able to have a mariachi program, a band, and orchestra…hopefully jazz and Latin jazz…something that reflects our community…something that reflects the background of our students.”
San Diego Unified invested 180-million dollars in taxpayer-funded bond money to demolish the two former schools on the city block between Ocean View Boulevard and Logan Avenue …and replace them with state-of-the-art structures, including the first-ever Logan Heights high school. 14-year old Hector Robles will be part of the L-M-E-C Class of 2026…
“I feel excited to be a freshman…to be the first graduate of a high school…to be the first in this high school they’re building.”
The lower schools opened virtually last year. This is the first-year students are on campus. The high school opens in August.
Antonio Villar was the principal at the former Fulton K-8 …now his same position is called Designer of Learning at L-M-EC. He says there’s something else very different about the learning here…
“as a system we are really honoring what Maria Montessori showed us about what happens when children are developing and how to better make sure to design our instruction to the student.”
L-M-E-C teachers are using the Montessori method exclusively in the elementary school starting with a mixed preschool class of 3,4, and 5-year-olds. Montessori education encourages student independence and creativity …with more hands-on learning …and teachers are guides instead of lecturers. Adriana Chavarin-Lopez is one of the school’s strategy and instruction support officers who helped implement the model which, until now, has been used only in elite private schools…
“that’s why it was really important to use Montessori in Logan Heights where we are working with children marginalized in education systems..but we really want to show these students are just as capable as any other children to have that academic and social success.”
She says it will be at least a year before they have assessment data to see how they’re doing in reaching that success.
Melanie Kray is the Designer of Learning for the new high school which still has construction crews completing final details before opening in the fall.
“to a certain extent I think we are a little bit of a question mark …the feeling among the community is they want to wait and see and make sure we are really going do what we say we’re going to do.”
Back at Mr. Paredes’s band practice, the sound of success is already being heard….MGP KPBS News
Mesa College now has a new outdoor space that will benefit students and the community…
There was a ribbon cutting on Thursday for the grand opening of the Campus Quad which has been expanded and redesigned.
The San Diego Community College District used voter-approved bond money to demolish older buildings and create a wide-open clearing in the heart of the Linda Vista campus.
It’s the last redevelopment project of many that have refreshed the campus. College President Pam Luster puts it this way…
“In San Diego having an outdoor space to study is everything. When we imagined this space it was a way for students to be in the center of campus and have celebrations and also other places to celebrate all things that happen at Mesa."
The new Quad leads to several of the College’s support centers. That’s where students who are former foster children, military veterans, or facing food or housing insecurity can go for help
The Old Globe has an ambitious project.
It’ll present a new two-play adaptation of the Henry the Sixth plays next summer. And it’s launching a yearlong program of citywide arts engagement and humanities events.
The Henry Six Project launches this weekend. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has this preview.
William Shakespeare wrote his cycle of Henry VI historical plays early in his career. Now the Old Globe’s artistic director Barry Edelstein is adapting the trilogy into a more manageable pair of plays for next year's Summer Shakespeare Festival. The plays might look to 15th century England but Shakespeare's insights still apply today.
BARRY EDELSTEIN: It's kind of a cautionary tale about what happens when political power becomes divorced from values. And the answer to what happens is only violence results. And so again and again in the play, these leaders come into power, and all they want is their own self-interest to be served. And violence follows war, death, chaos on the streets. And it's just a remarkably sobering and insightful and incisive reading of how political power can go awry.
The Henry plays will mark the Globe’s completion of the Bard’s canon, a rare achievement for an American theater company. The Globe will share more information about its Henry 6 Project at the "Happy Birthday, Mr. Shakespeare!" free event on Saturday.
Beth Accomando, KPBS News.
That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. This podcast is produced by kpbs senior radio producer Brooke Ruth and me, Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.