U-T San Diego’s publisher Douglas Manchester, known as “Papa” whenever the paper writes about him, has decided to downsize his proposal to build residential units next to the U-T’s Mission Valley headquarters. The new 200-unit plan, announced in the business section of the paper last week, keeps the lighthouse-like tower of the previous proposal, but there is no sign of the Times Square–style illuminated video billboard once sought from then-city councilman Kevin Faulconer by Manchester associate John Lynch. Neither will there be previously promised office space. “The commercial office market continues to be sluggish and there is not a demand for new Class A offices at this point in time,” Manchester aide Perry Dealy told the paper.
And no worry about traffic problems, says the story. “This is the best place to put housing. You have the trolley, two major arterials with easy on- and off access,” Doug Austin, Manchester’s architect on the project is quoted as saying. “You can walk to lot of places you’d normally drive to. The housing is needed — we’re 60,000-100,000 units short and that pressure is driving costs up for everybody.” Adds the piece: “No changes are proposed to Camino de la Reina to handle the extra traffic because of differing commuting patterns of residents and office workers, Austin said.” The paper goes on to say “an environmental impact report will be ready for city review in a few weeks with final action anticipated by the Planning Commission in the first quarter of 2015.”
Not mentioned in the account is that Austin himself is a member of the planning commission, having been appointed to the post this past spring by Faulconer, whose victorious mayoral bid this year was partially underwritten by at least $356,000 in contributions that Manchester funneled through GOP finance committees. It remains to be seen if Austin will be required to recuse himself from the panel’s debate over the controversial project next to the San Diego River. Even if he does, critics of the project fear his friends on the commission will lend a sympathetic ear to Manchester’s pleas.