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Owls and emotions in South Park canyon

Homeowners group aims to buy land from developer

Photos of owls taken within South Park's 28th Street canyon.
Photos of owls taken within South Park's 28th Street canyon.

A group of South Park residents, who objected to a proposed development in the 28th Street canyon two years ago, have initiated fundraising efforts in hopes of purchasing the property.

The Protect 28th Street Canyon Coalition was spearheaded by Doug Kipperman, whose canyon-view home is one of several abutting the site in question. In early December, the group received commitments in excess of $50K toward an anticipated $450K price tag for the four consecutive canyon lots that sold for $250K in spring 2013.

In early 2014, developer SDPB Holdings submitted a proposal to the city to build five single-family dwellings on the 26,000-square-foot parcel, which would also have required the city to vacate a 14,000-square-foot easement along the property.

Kipperman says SDPB withdrew that proposal last December after meeting community resistance and encountering city regulations that make it tough to receive approval to build on steep parcels.

"I think what they're discovering is the property is very difficult to build on," Kipperman said. "They would have to go through the complete application process again."

Kipperman believes a second proposal is forthcoming that would scale back the project to four homes, which the coalition would also push back against. He said the group decided making an offer on the property might lead to an easier resolution than continuing to fight through city channels.

"At some point we need to get past our emotions and decide," he said, "do we want to protect the canyon?"

The canyon runs from Fir to Elm Street, between Granada Avenue and the Grape Street dog park. Portions of it are popular among joggers, hikers, and dog-walkers. Kipperman pointed out the eucalyptus-lined canyon is home to owls (among other bird species). He said his family enjoys listening to them in the evenings.

Thus far, the coalition has received commitment only, ranging between $500 and $10K. Kipperman said once enough capital has been raised, a local nonprofit group will collect the money so the donations qualify as tax deductible. A local real estate agent, Sally Schoeffel, has said her agency, Pacific Sotheby's International Realty, has agreed to handle the property transaction pro bono.

The coalition hopes to donate the canyon land back to the city and has tapped conservation group San Diego Canyonlands to oversee stewardship. The coalition hopes to connect the canyon via hiking trails running north through Switzer Canyon and southwest trails adjacent the city’s Balboa Park Golf Course.

Canyonlands executive director Eric Bowlby said stewardship would involve local volunteers working to maintain the canyon's natural setting but that whoever owns the property — whether it's the developer, coalition, or the city — will be responsible for fire-safety protocols, especially brush-management zone compliance.

Kipperman recognized it's a lot of money and said he hopes for the best realistic outcome that will preserve the open space behind his home.

"We see the birds, the dogs in the park," he said. "It's life-affirming." However, he adds, "If they develop, we'll grow some trees and we'll still have a beautiful place to live."

A consultant for SDPB Holdings did not comment other than to say the developer "would consider an offer at $450K" if and when it comes.

For more info about donating, email [email protected]

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Photos of owls taken within South Park's 28th Street canyon.
Photos of owls taken within South Park's 28th Street canyon.

A group of South Park residents, who objected to a proposed development in the 28th Street canyon two years ago, have initiated fundraising efforts in hopes of purchasing the property.

The Protect 28th Street Canyon Coalition was spearheaded by Doug Kipperman, whose canyon-view home is one of several abutting the site in question. In early December, the group received commitments in excess of $50K toward an anticipated $450K price tag for the four consecutive canyon lots that sold for $250K in spring 2013.

In early 2014, developer SDPB Holdings submitted a proposal to the city to build five single-family dwellings on the 26,000-square-foot parcel, which would also have required the city to vacate a 14,000-square-foot easement along the property.

Kipperman says SDPB withdrew that proposal last December after meeting community resistance and encountering city regulations that make it tough to receive approval to build on steep parcels.

"I think what they're discovering is the property is very difficult to build on," Kipperman said. "They would have to go through the complete application process again."

Kipperman believes a second proposal is forthcoming that would scale back the project to four homes, which the coalition would also push back against. He said the group decided making an offer on the property might lead to an easier resolution than continuing to fight through city channels.

"At some point we need to get past our emotions and decide," he said, "do we want to protect the canyon?"

The canyon runs from Fir to Elm Street, between Granada Avenue and the Grape Street dog park. Portions of it are popular among joggers, hikers, and dog-walkers. Kipperman pointed out the eucalyptus-lined canyon is home to owls (among other bird species). He said his family enjoys listening to them in the evenings.

Thus far, the coalition has received commitment only, ranging between $500 and $10K. Kipperman said once enough capital has been raised, a local nonprofit group will collect the money so the donations qualify as tax deductible. A local real estate agent, Sally Schoeffel, has said her agency, Pacific Sotheby's International Realty, has agreed to handle the property transaction pro bono.

The coalition hopes to donate the canyon land back to the city and has tapped conservation group San Diego Canyonlands to oversee stewardship. The coalition hopes to connect the canyon via hiking trails running north through Switzer Canyon and southwest trails adjacent the city’s Balboa Park Golf Course.

Canyonlands executive director Eric Bowlby said stewardship would involve local volunteers working to maintain the canyon's natural setting but that whoever owns the property — whether it's the developer, coalition, or the city — will be responsible for fire-safety protocols, especially brush-management zone compliance.

Kipperman recognized it's a lot of money and said he hopes for the best realistic outcome that will preserve the open space behind his home.

"We see the birds, the dogs in the park," he said. "It's life-affirming." However, he adds, "If they develop, we'll grow some trees and we'll still have a beautiful place to live."

A consultant for SDPB Holdings did not comment other than to say the developer "would consider an offer at $450K" if and when it comes.

For more info about donating, email [email protected]

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Comments
4

"Portions of it are popular among joggers, hikers, and dog-walkers."

Well, not really. The 50x100-foot parcel beyond Kipperman's rear property line and chain-link fence is a ravine; it and the other four parcels south of it are buildable with grading, but not easily usable or enjoyed by anyone as of now (except for the 1800-block Granada property owners, who enjoy not having rear neighbors). The unpaved segment of 28th Street, west of the ravine lots and bordering Park land, is what gets the foot traffic (see photo).

Like the Granada lots and all other lots in South Park, these five lots were first mapped out in the early 1900s, based on the early San Diego Pueblo Lots offered for sale by the city to investors in the 1800s, after California was granted statehood and San Diego was handed over by Mexico to the US. As usual, early land investors promoted the sale of lots by creating parcel maps that were drawn up without the benefit of a surveyor. All over South Park, there are mapped lots on slopes and ravines. Some are built, some aren't. Some have been declared Open Space by the city (such as along the 1800-block of Bancroft, on Juniper Canyon). Just north of Kipperman, on the other side of Fir, the ravine has a very nice house and outdoor area.

I can relate to a Granada resident not wanting the new property owner to build on the lots behind Granada, but it's important to not exaggerate the facts. This isn't about preserving open space or protecting a canyon or owls. There are owls and all sorts of birds and critters in every tree, yard, ravine, and canyon in South Park. The only thing endangered here is the privacy and status quo of the Granada property owners.

Dec. 24, 2015

Where would the road access be? Would 28th be paved there? That seems kind of ridiculous.

Dec. 27, 2015

No, 28th Street, which is on the west side of the five ravine parcels, would not be the access and wouldn't be paved. If you click on the photo you'll see how Fir dead ends; the City would grant an easement for a little segment beyond that, which would be the access point for the new homes, via a paved segment extending Fir into an access driveway for all of the homes, starting at the house closest to Fir. Then the access drive would extend on to the other four homes, each having their own entry driveway off of the access drive. The access drive to all five homes would be taking the place of the usual sidewalk/easement width seen in front of South Park houses throughout the area.

Dec. 27, 2015

I completely agree with HonestGovernment

The only thing endangered here is the privacy and status quo of the Granada property owners.

This is literally a NIMBY issue for Mr. Kipperman: he is asking the community to buy the land behind his house so that no one will build on it and obstruct his view and access to the park.

It's ridiculous that people are falling for this.

Dec. 30, 2015

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