During the interactive portion of the May 30 community workshop on La Mesa's Downtown Village Specific Plan Update, about 100 people spent an hour visiting five stations devoted to issues related to the update. The specific plan serves as a planning tool for future growth and development in the approximately 200-acre downtown village.
The city council adopted the plan on April 17, 1990, and the workshop at the La Mesa Community Center was the first opportunity for the public to express their views about what they want. The interaction followed a half-hour presentation by La Mesa community development director Bill Chopyk and project manager Brooke Peterson of the Planning Center.
Public comments were recorded on flip charts pertaining to a range of issues. At the "Existing Conditions" station, remarks ranged from "more trees" to "City listen to residents not developers!!!"
At the "Mobility" station, opinions included: "Create a pedestrian mall with no parking allowed along La Mesa Boulevard from Spring Street to Fourth Street,” "Walk to the Village," "Eliminate parking in front of restaurants," and "Parking is adequate." One person said, "Build a structure rather than provide more surface parking"; another stated, “The structure can't block the view of something important."
Pat Stromberg, a member of the La Mesa Historical Society board, read the statements and said, "We have plenty of parking. We don't need a big structure sticking in the air. The only time there's trouble parking is Oktoberfest; then you take the trolley."
At the "Public Realm" station was a model of the Legacy Project that celebrates La Mesa's 2012 Centennial. The project will be built on land at the intersections of Allison Avenue, La Mesa Boulevard, and Fourth Street. Comments at that station ranged from calls for "More outdoor evening entertainment" and “Less sidewalk selling.” While one person stated "Public restrooms are a sign of a civilized society,” another said the facilities "would attract nuisances likes drugs, homeless, crime."
At the "Land Use" station, there was a request that included expanding mix-use development to include Finley Avenue. Below was a message in red letters: "I highly disagree. I own a small 1930s home on Fresno [Avenue] and the constant flow of speeding cars …and apartment renters sleeping on our [street] takes away from the historic beauty of La Mesa."
At the "Form and Character" station, there was ice cream, or at least a picture of the dessert. At this station, people participated in an interactive survey by clicking on a computer to express their opinions. Participants selected a number ranging from 1 to 5 to rate how much they liked or disliked an image. The survey started with ice cream, followed by 24 pictures of buildings.
By the end of the open house, 20 people had completed the survey, according to Cecilia Kim of the Planning Center. She said it was designed to give a sense of La Mesans' views about building height, size, and color.