The owners of a long-time Scripps Ranch community restaurant fear a supportive housing unit planned by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer could jeopardize the livelihood of their restaurant and other nearby businesses.
An old park-and-ride lot has been pegged for the project, which will create 60 housing units for seniors and veterans. But the building will eliminate 120 parking spaces, some of which are used by the restaurant and other businesses after 4 p.m.
“It’s very frustrating, but the bottom line is we’re trying to save our business. We’re trying to survive in these very difficult times. If you take our parking away, there’s no way we can survive,” said Yannis Pihas, owner of Yanni’s Restaurant on Scripps Highland Drive.
The park-and-ride is located just east of Interstate 15 off Scripps Poway Parkway. The supportive housing project is part of Mayor Faulconer’s Community Action Plan on Homelessness.
“There is a great need in our community for housing that gives folks a real chance to have a place of their own, but also the support system they need to stay housed. This public-private partnership will help transform these vacant City-owned properties into opportunities that will change the lives of so many of our fellow San Diegans for the better,” Faulconer said in a statement.
Pihas, and his wife Denise support the project, but they say there has been little information shared with the community and they haven't been given an opportunity to discuss their parking concerns with city officials.
“We don’t feel like there’s been any communication from the offices to say, this is what we’re going to do, it’s going to be a win-win for everybody, we’re excited about building this,” said Denis Pihas.
Also at issue, according to the Pihas, is whether the city can actually use the 1.4-acre piece of land for anything other than a park-and-ride. According to the Denise Pihas, the park-and-ride designation is built into the community master plan.
A city spokesperson said the master plan, or CC&R’s, do not preclude use of the city-owned property for permanent supportive housing.
“The property within the Scripps Ranch community was acquired by the City of San Diego for use as a Park and Ride and is not subject to the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions and Reservation (CC&Rs) of Easements for the Scripps Gateway Freeway Center,” said city spokesperson Scott Robinson.
Robinson also said parking requirements have changed considerably since the original development and a new analysis of the shopping center’s needs may result in determining the parking can be accommodated entirely on site.
“You need to address the parking needs of the residents and the surrounding businesses, it needs to be a win-win situation, it needs to respect the existing businesses,” said Yannis Pihas.
The controversy only adds to an agonizing business year for the Pihases. Because of the pandemic, they say they’ve had to let go of 20 employees and are still recovering from an initial 60% to 75% decrease in business.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to survive, but again, to have the parking taken away is like closing our business, for no apparent reason," said Yannis Pihas.
The Mayor's office says plans for several supportive housing projects are still being finalized. They will then be forwarded to the city council for approval, probably early next year.
Robinson said the council will take community input into account when considering the proposal.