“Morena Corridor Specific Plan – Comment 3 of Several” Letter

Michael,

My memory is that earlier versions of the Specific Plan explicitly
acknowledged the existence of and the support of the community for the
Clairemont Mesa Height Limit Overlay Zone (the 30-foot limit).  In any
case, it is undeniable that maintaining the Overlay Zone was the most
common and vehement recommendation made by the public during the entire
public participation process.

A text search of the current version of the Specific Plan shows only one
unrelated occurrence of the word “overlay,” and absolutely no
mention of the Clairemont Mesa Height Limit Overlay Zone.  There
continues to be considerable – and justifiable – suspicion in the
community that the ultimate goal of the City bureaucracy is to rescind
the Overlay Zone and allow tall buildings all along Morena Blvd.  Many
people in the community feel that the City bureaucracy’s tactics so
far have included:

1.  An attempt to sneak a de facto elimination of the Overlay Zone into
the first draft of the Specific Plan, with no input from the community
other than property owners along Morena Blvd.  This attempt was thwarted
by an uprising in the community, aided by support by then-Councilman
Harris.

2.  The elimination of mention of the Overlay Zone in the current draft
of the Specific Plan.  It would be interesting to learn who instructed
the authors of the Specific Plan to omit any mention or endorsement of
the Overlay Zone – does anyone want to provide an answer?

3.  Removal of recommendations for land use and zoning from the purview
of the Ad Hoc Subcommittee providing public input on the Specific Plan
– another interesting question about who in the City bureaucracy
pulled the strings to make this change (??).  At the same time, a notice
about an EIR for the Balboa Station Specific Plan includes discussion of
major land use changes and zoning changes.  Consistency is the hobgoblin
of little minds, as they say.

4.  Planning Commissioners’ dismissive attitude toward the Overlay
Zone, and City Council Member Zapf’s post-election indifference toward
the Overlay Zone.  See reporting of the Planning Commission meeting at
the following link:

https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2017/jun/20/stringers-what-lies-clairemonts-future/?google_editors_picks=true#
[1]

A reasonable non-paranoid scenario for the future includes

5.  In the Clairemont planning process, an attempt by the City
bureaucracy to pit neighborhood against neighborhood in deciding where
additional forced-down-the-throats-of-Clairemont population growth will
go, with rescinding the Overlay Zone being an obvious way to increase
population density along Morena Blvd.

6.  If that tactic doesn’t work, attempts by the Planning Commission
and/or the City Council to rescind the Overlay Zone over the objections
of the community.  Council Member Zapf would be likely to wink and vote
No (while the rest of the City Council votes Yes), knowing rescinding
the Overlay Zone would pass, and thereby garnering the big-bucks support
of the development community.

If the Overlay Zone is rescinded, litigation would be inevitable.
Increasing the height limit would be likely to be found to be a taking
by the City, with appropriate compensation required.  There are a large
number of people in the community with mid-six-figure incomes and
seven-figure houses who, together, would easily have the financial
resources needed to pursue a lengthy legal battle, with potential
compensation of several hundred thousand dollars per property.  If, say,
there were 200 properties affected by rescinding the Overlay Zone, and
the cost to each property in terms of property value averaged $100,000,
that could result in a $20 million judgment against the City, not
including attorney fees and other costs. In any case, the litigation
would take many years to resolve, delaying development along the Morena
Corridor.

It is also likely that there would be a well-financed campaign in the
2018 election against Council Member Zapf, who supported the Overlay
Zone during her election campaign, then backed off her support
(“flip-flopped” is the term that people have used) after she was
elected.

In order to resolve such issues and avoid ambiguity (and paranoia!!), I
STRONGLY recommend that the Specific Plan make it explicit that no
changes in the Clairemont Mesa Height Limit Overlay Zone are needed,
envisioned or recommended in order to implement the Specific Plan.
Specifically,

a. On Page 2 of the Specific Plan, revise “Preserve public views of
Mission Bay” to “In accordance with the provisions of the Clairemont
Mesa Height Limit Overlay Zone, ensure that the existing low profile
development in Clairemont Mesa will be maintained and that public views
from western Clairemont Mesa to Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean are
protected.” [Note:  The phrase “ensure…protected” is taken
directly from the Code Section for the Overlay Zone 132.1301.]

b.  On Page 82 of the Specific Plan, add a sentence to the following
effect:  “Modifying or rescinding the Clairemont Mesa Height Limit
Overlay Zone is not needed, envisioned, or recommended in order to
implement the Specific Plan.”

The community will breathe a sigh of relief if such statements or
equivalent are added to the Specific Plan.  If such statements are
deliberately omitted from the Specific Plan, the community may well
decide that

1.  The City bureaucracy has a (poorly) hidden agenda to rescind the
Overlay Zone, but is not honest enough to admit that is its goal.

2.  It’s time to start a legal fund, and

i. Find and fund candidates for the City Council to replace Council
Member Zapf with someone (Mr. Harris may be available??) who is more
attuned to constituents than to the Dumb Growth advocates among the City
bureaucracy and developers. Whether or not statements such as those that
I recommend above are added to the Specific Plan will be a good test of
Ms. Zapf’s commitment to the quality of life in the community she
represents, and also a good test of her clout with the City bureaucracy.

and

ii. Petition a court to issue an injunction against the City to stop its
planning process until the City puts into place enforceable mechanisms
to force the City to actually take into account public input into the
supposedly public planning process, rather than hold pro forma public
meetings and do all the dirty work behind closed doors.

Sincerely,

Anonymous

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