“Morena Corridor Specific Plan – Comment 2 of Several” Letter

If housing is built close to the “Pollution Strip” (that is, the
land close to the trolley line/railroad tracks/I-5), the quality of and
options for that housing may be severely limited. I know of _NO_ example
of high-quality housing adjacent to both a railroad line and a major
Interstate Highway. I have discussed this previously; see the links in

http://sandiegotrolleyfollies.blogspot.com/ [1]

especially

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9ZWiktfcO0FRUU3N1ozN2E5RjQ/view [2]

The Tecolote Village District and the Clairemont District areas along
the Pollution Strip will be subject to

1.  High ambient and higher occasional noise pollution levels due to the
trolleys, freight/passenger trains including trains during the night,
and vehicle noise from I-5.  My sound meter shows ambient levels above
70 dB along Morena Blvd., rising to more than 90 dB when a train passes.
People have reported that conversation stops in restaurants along Morena
Blvd. when a train passes because of the noise levels. Sound technicians
can take accurate measurements.

2.  Air pollution from trains and vehicle traffic on I-5 impinging onto
the Pollution Strip, which is downwind of the polluters.  The Pollution
Strip appears to be in, or immediately adjacent to, the Proposition 65
notification area for train pollution.  Some of this pollution will be
carcinogenic, because of train exhaust, vehicle tire tread wear dust,
etc.  Air quality measurements, especially of particulates, should be
made before any new housing developments are approved.

Note that noise and air quality measurements should be made on
relatively dry days and nights, because high humidity or fog will lower
both noise and pollutant concentrations.

If my analysis of the situation is borne out, the noise and air
pollution will severely limit or foreclose the housing options close to
the Pollution Strip.  [Note: in earlier discussions of the Specific
Plan, City planners suggested that housing could be heated/air
conditioned with the double-paned windows always closed – in one of
the most temperate climates in the world.  So much for lowering carbon
footprints!]

It is somewhat surprising that the Specific Plan does not recommend a
sound wall or equivalent along Morena Blvd. to lower the noise level and
increase the viability of nearby businesses and residences.  Such a wall
would cost only a fraction of a percent of the project budget.

It is my opinion that the potential limits on housing close to the
Pollution Strip should be specifically acknowledged in the Specific
Plan, especially since those limits will also affect the financial

viability

of potential retail businesses in the entire area covered by
the Specific Plan.  To that end, I recommend that the following
statement on Page 7 of the Specific Plan:

“Provide a range of housing options.”

be replaced by the following (or its equivalent):

“Provide a range of housing options developed in compliance with
modern standards for health and safety of potential residents, taking
into account noise and air pollution from trains, trolleys, and vehicle
traffic on I-5 which may severely limit or foreclose options for housing
in the Tecolote Village District and/or the Clairemont District.”

It may turn out that the only viable alternative for development in the
Pollution Strip is for businesses rather than residences.  My opinion is
that would be an attractive and sound option in many ways.

Note:  The recent proposal for conversion to residences of the trailer
park at the intersection of Frankfort Street and Morena Blvd. may
present a good test case for options for future housing in the Pollution
Strip.  The current trailer park is close to the railroad tracks and to
I-5.  I measured sound levels at the northwest corner of the trailer park,

and found ambient sound levels of 75-82 dB from freeway traffic
alone (this was surprisingly high to me??).  The noise level obviously
would be attenuated as one moves east across the trailer park, but I
didn’t make any additional measurements.  Levels of air pollutants,
including particulate carcinogens, remain to be determined.  It will be
interesting to see if changing the zoning and land use of this area can
be justified, after taking into account modern standards for the health
and safety of potential residents.

Sincerely,

Anonymous

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