A proposed mega dorm project at San Diego State University (SDSU) -- set to be built in a canyon that's filled with native plants and animals -- is fueling a fiery debate among College Area residents.
Campus planners have released a residence hall expansion plan that would include three more buildings designed to house 2,600 students. The project will be built in three phases, the last of which will be in Aztec Canyon, an area that's home to some 85 protected plant and animal species.
At a meeting Wednesday night, a subcommittee of the College Area Community Planning Board listened to public comment on the plan. Many residents who live near the canyon voiced concerns and objections, giving the proposal a failing grade.
Opponents argued that construction of the large-scale dorm project will disturb protected native plants and animal species who call the canyon home.
Homeowners who live on Remington Road said campus planners should not sacrifice the last of the native space that is Aztec Canyon to build student housing.
“It’s worth preserving. It’s one of the few remaining places where we can see what San Diego was before it was developed and irrigated and changed into the city we know it today,” resident Robert Plice said.
Plice said he isn't against more dorms. In fact, he and his neighbors living on the west side of Aztec Canyon are all for it.
"Those of us who live in the College Area have complained for a long time that SDSU is not doing enough to house its students on campus,” Plice said.
But he added that the school identified more than a dozen other areas where the dorm could be built.
"They have many alternatives that would not involve destroying a native canyon," Plice said.
The half-dozen voices heard at Wednesday night’s subcommittee meeting are expected to echo among many more in the ongoing debate.
SDSU Interim Communications Chief Gina Jacobs told NBC 7 that if community members have concerns, the university wants to hear them. The Planning Board will respond to each of them when the public comment period ends on June 5.