An empty lot on Clairemont Drive in Bay Park is at the center of a lot of debate.
San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is considering using eminent domain to take over the private property for public use. It needs the property as a staging area while it builds a new trolley station. Then, the plan is to use the land for a park and ride.
Residents do not mind the idea of a park and ride. They know that is needed for the new trolley station, but some residents want more than that, and say they already are working with a developer for a mixed-use project.
Jim LaMattery is a realtor and spokesperson for the community group, Raise the Balloons/ Bay Park Boardwalk. LaMattery says he is working with Protea, a developer, who is willing to fight eminent domain, and listen to what the residents want. He says Protea can build underground parking for people taking the trolley, as well as a restaurant, or office space or condos. “It’s not an either or. It’s not either a development or a park and ride. We can do both,” said LaMattery.
But Bruce Kleege, president of the company that owns the nearby Best Western, says residents can have both, even if SANDAG moves forward with eminent domain. Kleege says after the trolley is built, SANDAG can open up the project for bids from other developers who may have more visions for the future of the site.
SANDAG released a statement that reads in part “... We need to acquire the Clairemont Drive property for construction. At the same time, the SANDAG board of directors has directed staff to continue to work with the community on the future of the site...”
NBC 7 clarified with SANDAG what it means by “future of the site.” SANDAG says eminent domain "does not preclude the possibility of a future mixed use transit oriented development at the site."
A community meeting will be held at the vacant lot October 1st, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Organizers are dubbing it “Choose or Snooze.”