The San Diego City Council approved a plan Tuesday that would make way for thousands of new homes in the Midway District over the next two decades.
The update to the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan would increase the area’s housing capacity from about 5,000 to more than 11,500 in the areas around Midway Drive, Sports Arena and the Pacific Highway Corridor north of Little Italy.
The plan was first released in April and faced the Smart Growth committee meeting in May where Councilmember Lorie Zapf asked city planners to make additional traffic improvements.
"From the beginning of the planning process, reducing traffic congestion has been my main objective and that’s why I have worked closely with City planners and the community on additional traffic improvements," said Zapf.
The plan presented to city council members in September said a mobility system will be adopted, utilizing technology to create efficient travel for all transportation modes.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the plan is vital to create living opportunities near jobs and transit.
Currently, the Midway district is slightly blighted with the aging Sports Arena, industrial-heavy development, and a lack of green spaces, city officials said.
But its proximity to the San Diego Airport, the San Diego River, Interstate 5 and two trolly stations make it idea for a pedestrian-friendly "City of Villages," according to the mayor's office.
The community plan update calls for breaking up the oversized blocks into new smaller streets and adding bike lanes that connect to pedestrian-friendly plazas.
The plan also calls for nearly 30 acres of parks and an entertainment area and a recreation center for future residents.
The future of the Sports Arena would be left up to a variety of possibilities including leaving it as it is, demolishing it or using the area for other types of land-use like retail or business and entertainment.
A handful of people objected to the plan, saying it neglects the affordable housing issue.
"I found only five references in the text in [Tuesday's] update that address affordable housing. These five callouts will do nothing to direct property owners, homeowners and decision makers to assure this community fulfills its fair share of housing," Consultant Joe Lacava said.
Zapf said there's nothing preventing affordable housing developers from proposing a project in an area of the community where housing is allowed.
The Midway District would be the 10th community plan updated during Mayor Faulconer's time in office with six more community plan updates in the works.
City leaders pointed out the plan is long-term, so the most ambitious changes probably won't be seen for a couple of decades.