Big Win Comes with Major Warning
Fairfield Morena Project Approved But Councilmembers Issue a Stark Warning to Bay Park Residents
Fairfield’s Morena Apartment Homes were narrowly approved during Tuesday’s very contentious meeting of the San Diego City Council. It was a major victory for residents because it is the first project to test height limits and density within the boundaries of the Morena Specific Plan (MSP).
The project will maintain the current 30ft height limit. But dissenting Councilmembers declared it would be the last project within the Plan’s boundaries that will be approved without busting the 30ft height limit. They vowed to increase maximum allowable density, especially because the Plan’s boundaries include the Clairemont and Tecolote trolley stations.
I attended the meeting to speak in favor of the project’s approval because the developer worked with the community over the past three years to address development concerns and the apartment homes will be built under the existing 30ft limit. Our Clairemont Community Planning Group approved the project.
The dissenting Councilmembers’ demand for more density (TOD) along Morena Blvd rests upon the assumption that all new housing in SD should be multi-family units concentrated around the half-mile radius of transit hubs. No provision has been made for single-family housing in either the SANDAG Comprehensive Regional Plan (CRP) and San Diego’s General Plan.
The CRP calls for heavy density within the same “last mile” surrounding all Transit Priority Areas (TPAs) in the county but makes no variant for topographies like ours. Assuming an aging population is capable of walking down slope and up-hill to use the trolley service is probably the largest flaw to heavy density TOD in Bay Park, much less justification for a trolley stop at Clairemont Drive and Morena Blvd.
Despite some praise for Fairfield and the community’s efforts to design a project residents could embrace, the dissenters took the opportunity to berate our community for consistently opposing the busting of our 30Ft height limit, despite the fact that we’ve made it clear that busting it is a non-starter.
Seconds before the vote was taken, our new Councilmember, Dr. Jennifer Campbell, made an impassioned last minute appeal to her fellow members to vote in favor of the project. You can watch that portion of the meeting here.
Campbell gets it that we consider Bay Park, Bay Ho and Overlooks Heights a coastal community that needs protections that are afforded our coastal neighbors with the California Coastal Commission Act and Proposition D.