The La Mesa Planning Commission on June 18 tabled a decision on the Park Station specific plan after a co-applicant spoke against the mixed-use proposal. The proposal includes raising the height limit to 110 feet (about ten stories) and constructing a hotel and maximum estimated 416 homes on a 5.23-acre site on the southeast corner of El Cajon Boulevard and Baltimore Drive.
"This particular project is detrimental to the city. It's too big not to hurt an already congested area," said Lenny Guccione, house manager for American Legion La Mesa Post 282.
The plan also includes senior housing and commercial use on land owned primarily by the Kitzman family. Post 282 owns the remaining land. The plan co-applicants are the American Legion and South Baltimore LLC (with Frank, Joseph, and David, Kitzman listed as contact names).
Guccione said Post 282 was "only a co-applicant for zoning purposes and will continue to operate the Vietnam Veterans Memorial" next to the building.
He spoke at 10:10 p.m. during the public hearing that started at 8:30 p.m. After Guccione's testimony, commissioners took a break and then resumed the public hearing. When that ended at around 10:50 p.m., commissioners agreed to meet on July 16.
"It might take some time to sort out the co-application situation," said La Mesa community-development director Bill Chopyk.
At next month's meeting, commissioners will vote on the plan and final environmental impact report. The city council will then vote on the commission's recommendations.
The project is officially known as “Park Station at the Crossroads of La Mesa.” Currently, "the site is used by a variety of auto and RV related enterprises and Del Mar Marble and Tile," according to the plan. The 60-year-old American Legion building is "at the south end of the site."
Other than Guccione's remarks, there was no mention during the hearing of this statement in the plan: "Upon completion of Phase 3, the American Legion Property shall become a member of the Project’s Master Association and the Master Association shall have maintenance responsibility" for the memorial.
Many people at the hearing wore their position on their clothing, either a badge with the word "Yes" or the number 4. The number represented "No more than four," the motto of people maintaining that the project should adhere to the city's four-story limit.
Suda House urged commissioners to amend the plan with heights "topped at 46 feet."
Resident David Keesey said he and his wife Miriam want to live in Park Station when they retire. "Old La Mesans need a place to go where we can live on a single story."
Frank Kitzman talked about his family's history in La Mesa. "We've owned most of the property for 50 years."
Elyse Lowe spoke about Move Alliance's endorsement of the plan she said would have "more people walking, biking, and taking mass transit."
Nathan Cunningham questioned the designation of one parking space per residence. He moved to La Mesa for its "small-town feel" and "tried" taking the trolley to downtown San Diego. "You get to go through almost every crime area." Future residents "might do it once," and those with more than one vehicle "might park" on his street.