My Friends

Arrow Up

Arrow Up
Arrow Down
,
  • Fri
    29
  • Sat
    30
  • Sun
    31
  • Mon
    1
  • Tue
    2
  • Wed
    3
  • Thu
    4
STIR Aug 29, 2014 An evening of visual art and sound pieces from some of San Diego's top creatives including Jason Sherry, Joshua Krause, Don Porcella, Anna Zappoli and more. There will also be live music and performance pieces. 63 other events on Friday, August 29
 
News
How one case study could potentially transform City Heights
The Floating Library
What inspired me as I wrote my first novel
News
Desert Line leaseholder likely claimed fake asset
Arts & Culture feature
Second in a two-part series about how the county does and doesn’t support cultural organizations
Last Blog on Earth | News
Abrupt departure raises question about the future of smart growth in San Diego

 

 
Log in to use your Facebook account with
San Diego CityBeat

Login With Facebook Account

Recent Activity on San Diego CityBeat
 
Home / Blogs / Last Blog on Earth
. . . .
Friday, May 23, 2014 - 97 days ago Last Blog on Earth | News

City drags its feet on development plan for Encanto, City Heights

Despite willingness of union, labor negotiations never started

By Joshua Emerson Smith
mikezucchet_sandiego San Diego MEA General Manager Mike Zucchet
- Photo by David Rolland

Civic San Diego, the city-owned nonprofit tasked with winding down redevelopment projects, has been drooling over the possibility of bringing its Downtown development strategy to the neighborhoods of Encanto and City Heights. For months, Civic San Diego's president, Jeff Graham (who stepped down earlier this year), was going around to City Council members, talking about an opportunity to bring in federal “new market” tax credits and bank loans to help revitalize underserved neighborhoods.

However, there was a catch: Civic San Diego needed control of planning and permitting for those areas, Graham insisted.

That didn’t sit well with the San Diego Municipal Employees Association (MEA), the union that represents the workers in the city's planning department—the folks who do the work Civic San Diego was looking to appropriate. The union wanted to go through meet-and-confer, a process in which the city would have to make a good-faith effort to at least discuss the idea of shifting planning duties before approving it.

While that has yet to happen, Mayor Kevin Faulconer included $225,000 in his May revised budget to “fund Civic San Diego to provide ministerial review in Encanto and City Heights,” according to city documents. This doesn't give Civic San Diego the planning authority it wants, but it gives the nonprofit the resources to prepare to take on that role.

“This is a heck of a way to start that good-faith discussion with dropping this on us,” said Mike Zucchet, MEA general manager, at Wednesday’s City Council budget hearing.

"Many of you are fond of blaming labor unions for slowing things down," he added. "We’ve been begging you to engage on this for more than six months, and there’s been nothing until yesterday."

The Mayor’s office didn’t respond to CityBeat's request for comment.

The $225,000 is for Civic San Diego to set up an investment fund, said Planning Director Bill Fulton at the hearing. "Civic will begin to put that investment fund together now, so that at such time as planning and permitting authority is either transferred to Civic or projects are available to Civic to participate in, that fund will be available to do that."

So what is the proposal that the city and the union will discuss, exactly? No one really knows, except maybe the Mayor’s office, the City Attorney and Civic San Diego.

"We have been in an active engagement with Civic San Diego, as well as the City Attorney’s office on refining that proposal," said Scott Chadwick, the city's chief operating officer, at the hearing.

The general idea is that for large commercial swaths in each neighborhood, the community plan would be substituted for a “specific plan.” This way, requirements and limitations on height, density and parking could be bypassed in an effort to lure in development.

Who would have the final approval on what kinds of projects get built is far from clear. It could be the City Council or it could be Civic San Diego's Board of Directors—which has had significant disagreements on how to prioritize community benefits for development projects, such as affordable housing and subsidizing rent for community-based nonprofits.


Write to joshuas@sdcitybeat.com.

 
 
Close
Close
Close