Then I became a member probably around '95, something like that, '95, '96. I sat in on those meetings and I kept listening and I kept asking, "The traffic is so bad -- why encourage or recommend construction of another 3000 or 4000 units?" And the answer I always got was, "The city council says it's okay, it's acceptable. The traffic levels aren't going to be adversely affected."
Of course, we know that's not true. For every thousand units, it adversely impacts congestion. And then they say, "It's already accepted on the books, and it's private property."
Now, Valerie Stallings was our councilmember at that time, and that was Valerie Stallings's stock answer: that it's private property, it's already been approved by the city council. So then Valerie resigned and there was another election and someone passed around that Donna Frye was running. And then she agreed to run. She has no ties to the corporate world.
This Mission Valley Unified Planning Group was formed by certain individuals who went to the city council and said they wanted to be an advocate for Mission Valley, and the city council approved it and I guess they set up their rules and regulations.
They were all business interests. So it became very embarrassing, and finally the city said in the early '90s, "You have to get some residents on there, some people who live in Mission Valley." And so that's when I started going to these meetings, and it took several months before I was voted on as a member.
It's very difficult to get people to come to meetings in Mission Valley. The problem that most people have is, when you work 40 hours a week, after you fill up the car with gas and buy groceries and cook and clean and do the laundry and everything, you really don't have much time for yourself. So after working eight hours a day, you don't want to go to a meeting. If you're lucky enough to have a day off during the week, you might be able to go to some of these evening meetings.
The unified planning group meets on Wednesday at noon in Mission Valley. Most people work Monday through Friday, basically somewhere between 8:00 and 5:30. If they're lucky they can combine their breaks and half-hour lunch for an hour, but the meetings last one and a half hours, sometimes two hours.
Q. Where is the meeting conducted?
In the library in Mission Valley. And the people who attend are employees of corporations. Now, ostensibly they volunteer to go to these meetings. But they all seem to go to lunch after the meeting.
Q. Can we name some of the corporations?
Courtesy Chevrolet. Delawie, Wilkes, Rodrigues, Barker. They're architects. Sudberry Properties. Vantile, LLC. Alta Company, LLC. PM Realty Group. Commonwealth Land Title Company. Atlas Hotels, that's a big one. That's a real big one.
FSDRIP stands for First San Diego River Improvement Project. There was a big controversy, I guess, in the late '70s, early '80s, about dealing with the river. The developers said, "This land is so valuable, we don't want it underwater." And people who wanted to appreciate it and acknowledge its inherent value said, "We want to ensure some sustainability." Somewhat of a compromise was FSDRIP, which has a buffer, a vegetated buffer. Now that's supposed to be a habitat for various ambulatory and airborne beings.
The project is basically between 163 and 805. Now, west of 163 the river sort of gets really reduced. The city council allowed Fashion Valley to build that [new] parking lot in the riverbed. And I remember asking them at a meeting, why are they destroying the riverbed? And their answer was, "When it floods, it won't hurt anybody because we won't let anyone park there."
We have a lot of homeless people that sort of take up residence along the river. Now these people are disenfranchised in many ways. The planning group talks about how we have to root the homeless out of the vegetation. They want to cut down the vegetation along the river because of the homeless. They're using the homeless as an excuse to strip the land of vegetation.
Often members of the unified planning group want to further disenfranchise what remains of our open space, citing the homeless as the reason. It is shameful that the disenfranchised are an excuse to further disenfranchise what remains of our open space.
The obsession with development, evidenced by the density of condos/apartments/businesses and wretched road congestion, is insatiable. In biological terms, such a concentration of interests, such a small pool, is incestuous.
Q. What are some of the big projects currently pending that are a threat to the environment of Mission Valley and why?
A. There are three. One is the Quarry Falls development, north of Friars Road. It's bounded by Friars Road, Mission Center Road, and 805. The northern boundary is the southern boundary of Serra Mesa.
It is used as a quarry for excavation. It's been excavated for decades. The owner now wants to develop it into residential units, businesses. It's zoned for 30 units per acre. It's a 230-acre site. As we know, Friars Road is very, very congested. The intersections are the worst possible ratings. The amount of exhaust is extremely hazardous. And the proposal at this time is for 4800 condos plus support businesses.
[The developer of Quarry Falls, Tom Sudberry, is a member of the Mission Valley Unified Planning Group, as is Ronald W. Grant, who is associated with Alta Company LLC, the company that owns the Quarry Falls site.]
Q. And the second project?
It's at the west end of Mission Valley. The golf course [just west of Fashion Valley] is approximately 220 acres. Believe it or not, the city says it's okay to develop that with thousands of condos and hundreds of businesses and that such development will not adversely impact the traffic on Friars and Interstate 8 and 5 and 805.