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Peninsula planners vote to oppose housing in Famosa Canyon

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The community room at Point Loma Library is packed during the Peninsula Community Planning Board’s Special Meeting on Aug. 28, when community members offered feedback in regards to possible development at the Famosa Canyon.
(Savanah Duffy)

During a Special Meeting of the Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB) Aug. 28, potential affordable housing development in the Famosa Canyon — west of Famosa Slough — was the sole topic of the evening. For two hours, PCBP heard from the community, its members and other interested parties, who packed the Point Loma Library Conference Room to debate the merits of a San Diego Housing Commission proposal for 78 housing units on the 5.61-acre property, currently home to small walking paths and a dirt track where children ride their bikes.

PCPB chair Robert Goldyn explained that the Housing Commission released a memorandum on July 2 regarding a third-party feasibility study completed for the property at Famosa and Nimitz boulevards, referred to as Site 428. The study concluded that while the site has steep slopes, power lines and would require drainage of a wetland, it could support development.

It stated: “SDHC will release a Request for Proposals (RFP) within 60 days to obtain proposals from developers for a potential affordable rental housing development at this site. Since no specific development design or plan has been created or proposed at this time, the specific population and income levels that would reside in a development at this location have not been determined.”

The PCPB took comments from meetings of its Traffic & Transportation, Project Review, Environmental, Parks & Rec, and Long Range Planning subcommittees and formulated a letter to City Council members and Mayor Kevin Faulconer, expressing the following:

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“Due to identified shortfalls in the feasibility study as outlined in Enclosure 3 and the executive summary of our Traffic & Transportation subcommittee, environmental concerns with respect to preservation of the disturbed coastal wetland, preservation of the grove of eucalyptus trees for monarch butterfly habitat, lack of park space in our community, legality of the 1.86-acre transfer of land from San Diego Parks & Recreation to the San Diego Housing Commission and to the overwhelming community opposition to any development on Site 428/Famosa Canyon, the PCPB does not support any habitational development of Site 428/Famosa Canyon.”

The full letter and the enclosed minutes of the committee meetings can be read at bit.ly/PCPBFamosa

The Special Meeting was intended to help PCPB reach a decision as to whether Goldyn would sign and distribute the letter on behalf of the community and the board. In the end, a motion by Fred Kosmo to approve the letter was seconded by Margaret Virissimo and it was approved 8-3 with dissenting votes from Jim Hare, David Dick and Korla Eaquinta.

The general consensus was that while affordable housing is needed, preserving the remaining areas of natural open space in Point Loma should take precedence. Consistent with the feedback given during committee meetings, the statement by PCPB member Robert Tripp Jackson echoed the public sentiment: “Nothing against low-income housing, but it’s just the wrong location for a development.”

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Dick’s “no” vote, he explained: “was not because I am in favor of the development of this property, or that I’m opposed to leaving it as open space or as park, or rewilding it or any of the alternatives to development of the site, but we should be attacking the feasibility study. When we don’t do what we should do — when we don’t approach it the way we should approach it — it impacts our credibility. If we want to be credible opponents to this project, then we should address it in the proper format.”

Peninsula Community Planning Board next meets 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 at Point Loma Library, 3701 Voltaire St. pcpb.net


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