College Area

Rezoning in College Area Could Clear Way for High-Density Buildings

NBC Universal, Inc.

Neighbors in San Diego's College Area are concerned about the city’s possible plans to rezone the residential community and clear the way for more apartments and high-density housing.

New zoning rules could allow property owners to tear down traditional single-family neighborhood homes and put up three to five-story apartment complexes right next door.

Residents fear the new rules will bring about a new look in their tight-knit neighborhood.

"This is a longtime community of longtime residents. We know each other, we like each other," resident Julie Hamilton said.

"We closed down for the 4th of July. We closed down the whole block and there are water slides and everything else," Hamilton's neighbor Danna Givot added. "I intended to go out of my house with a toe tag."

Givot and Hamilton said they planned on staying in their College Area homes forever, but now the city's proposed College Area Community Development Plan could force them to move.

Since at least 2020, members of the College Area Planning Board have been working with city planners to develop a vision for what they call "smart growth" in the area.

They're looking at two plans that include high-density business and housing developments along heavy traffic corridors like Montezuma Road, El Cajon Boulevard and College Avenue. Givot, Hamilton and their neighbors are a fan of either.

"Bad and worse," is how Givot described them.

"We had this vision of a campus town, where that would be vibrant and we would have people on the quarters and in the nodes. And then it would transition to single-family neighborhoods," Hamilton explained.

Residents say that vision wasn't mapped out in the two proposed plans, dubbed "Grand Boulevards" and "15-Minute Neighborhoods."

Neighbors say the Grand Boulevards plan is bad because it adds 10,000 new housing units to the area, while the 15-Minute plan is worse because it adds 20,000 and is based on outdated SANDAG growth projections.

"You're driving up the underlying value because now it is not a single-family home, now it's valued at the price of the property and what can be developed on the property," Givot explained.

Givot fears that will drive single-family homeowners to sell to developers and change the entire look and feel of the community.

"I feel like the city has listened to the consultants and the people saying, 'we need more housing. We need more housing. We need more housing at any cost,' and not listen to us," Hamilton said.

A city spokesperson told NBC 7 the two plans are part of a survey for the College Area Community Plan update to get feedback about the location and scale of new homes in the area. They said there will be more surveys and opportunities for input before public hearings begin in the spring of 2023.

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