By Ken Williams | Editor
More than a dozen interactive displays awaited folks who attended the kickoff meeting for the Mission Valley Community Plan Update held on June 30 at the Scottish Rite Event Center.
About 70 people showed up for the two-hour meeting, where they could place stickers to indicate their interest in various topics related to updating the Community Plan that helps determine what Mission Valley will look like in the future.
The existing Community Plan is three decades old and the updating process is expected to take about three years to complete, planning officials say. The City Council must approve the update before it will go into effect, likely sometime in 2018.
The Mission Valley Planning Group is in the process of selecting members to serve on its Community Plan Update Subcommittee. A dozen members from the planning group have already been appointed by their chair, Dottie Surdi, and another 11 members will be selected by lottery on Aug. 15 from a list of applicants.
The open house on June 30 provided detailed insight on the myriad issues facing the subcommittee, from carving out an overall vision for Mission Valley to deciding the community’s character, mobility needs and recreational demands.
Nancy Graham, the senior planner assigned to oversee Mission Valley for the city’s Planning Commission, spoke to small groups of people about the long process necessary to update the Community Plan.
Graham said that because Community Plan is outdated, there is an urgency to update it because Mission Valley is poised to explode in population in the next 10 to 15 years. She quoted SANDAG projections for 2050 showing an addition of 17,302 residents, 14,250 jobs and 9,501 housing units.
“We need to hear from you, more than you need to hear from me,” Graham said. “Planning is not rocket science.”
The 21 members of the subcommittee will look at all aspects of life in Mission Valley. Graham described various topics that would need to be discussed.
On the land-use plan: “How much housing do we need? What density? How do we make work spaces work? Should we build commercial sites that also contain housing? Can we reduce people’s need to drive?”
On mobility: “How do we get from point A to point B? Should we make walking/bicycling more appealing? Should we have a stronger connection to transit? … We all know about the traffic. It’s a really large problem. Should we look at other communities and see how they’ve solved the problem?”
On urban design: “Should there be a viable connection between homes and businesses? Do we make our community appealing through pavement markers, shielded parking, streetscapes?”
On economic prosperity: “Should we balance our economy with quality of life amenities?”
On the San Diego River: “How do we make the river an asset?”
On education: “There is a massive shortage of education facilities in Mission Valley. What do we do about that?”
On conservation and sustainability: “We have to implement the Climate Action Plan. We need to recycle our water. We need to find ways to make better choices in using our water. We need to deal with stormwater.”
On community facilities, parks and open spaces: “There are not enough of these in Mission Valley.” She cited the need for parks, ballfields, skate parks, dog parks, plazas and courtyards to get people outdoors.
On preservation, culture and history: She noted that Mission Valley is home to the Spanish missions, the Town and Country resort hotel, motor hotels that are icons of the 1960s and 1970s, and more modern ones. “How do we blend the old with modern?”
On arts and culture: “We get a lot of complaints about the lack of arts and culture. … Do we want public art?”
During the question-and-answer session, one woman wished for more park space, saying “we are squished in” between malls and residential complexes. Graham pointed out that Civita Park — which is about a year from completion — will become the largest public green space in Mission Valley next to the planned River Park.
A man wondered if a petition-signing campaign could save the Riverwalk Golf Course from becoming a housing development. Brian Schoenfisch, another senior city planner, said that because the Riverwalk project was adopted in 1986, the developer has the green light to go ahead with the project because “they have vesting rights.”
One woman noted the disconnect between the south side of Interstate 8 in Mission Valley and the north side, where a majority of the community is located. Graham said this issue should be a “big part of the discussion for the update plan.”
As the Q&A session ended, one man stood up to address the crowd. “I’m pretty satisfied with Mission Valley as it is,” he said. “We can shop at a Target or at a Neiman Marcus. We are the home of one of the first craft beer establishments. We have a great golf course. We have easy access to the beach, to Mission Bay, to downtown.”
A number of people nodded their heads in agreement. Others rushed to the front of the room to privately ask questions of Graham and Schoenfisch.
—Ken Williams is editor of Mission Valley News and San Diego Uptown News and can be reached at email@example.com or at 619-961-1952.