The city’s plan to build thousands of housing units along a future trolley line is now on hold. A group of local homeowners is suing the city of San Diego in an effort to stop the development from moving forward.
In less than two years, the construction zone along Morena Boulevard in Linda Vista will transform into a trolley station – one of several new stations in a $2.17 billion trolley line extension connecting Downtown to University City.
To accompany its giant investment in public transportation, the city came up with a mixed-use housing development plan known as the Morena Corridor Specific Plan. Along with a planned urban street grid, the plan would add more than 5,600 new housing units within a half mile of the future trolley stations.
Last month, San Diego City Council gave the plan the greenlight despite some backlash from long-time Linda Vista homeowners.
Now those homeowners are taking their fight from City Hall to the courthouse.
The Morena Corridor plan is just one of several developments in the works along the trolley extension. The lawsuit’s outcome could set the tone for all new developments along the city’s massive public transportation investment.
Howard Wayne is part of Morena United, a group of Linda Vista homeowners suing the city. He said public officials ignored their concerns for years, giving them no choice but to file suit.
“It was a charade,” said Wayne about the public input about the project during planning commission and city council meetings.
He said homeowners want more housing, but they just don’t want it to be so dense. In fact, the development was cleared to build much higher than the usual height restrictions in the Linda Vista area, potentially blocking bay views for homeowners.
Another gripe from locals against the development plan? Wayne said there isn’t enough affordable housing. He said the plan caters to big developers who will rent to the rich and push out the middle class and the poor.
"Linda Vista has always been a diverse community, a working people area,” Wayne said. “And this would gentrify it."
Supporters of the plan said the city needs to build more houses – period.
“The Morena plan is the perfect area to be building more housing,” said Maya Rosas with Circulate San Diego, a nonprofit that promotes access to public transportation.
Rosas said developments like the one slated along the trolley line in Linda Vista will be pivotable to overcoming San Diego’s housing and climate crisis.
"There's a long history of lawsuits being used to stall progress,” Rosas said. “It's unfortunate that that's how it works, but lawsuits add to the cost of housing in California."
The San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council supports the Morena development plan – for the most part.
"The Morena Plan is a step forward,” said Satomi Rash-Zeigler, director of program development and outreach for the Labor Council.