College Area residents voted Wednesday (June 10) to call the city out on a nuanced interpretation of the municipal code where a project that looks like a dormitory is poised to get permits to build as a "multi-use apartment building."
Alabama-based Capstone Development Partners LLC had sought the planning group’s input on a proposed project at 5030 College Avenue before the partners resubmit it to the city planning department.
The project, with 94 units, 374 beds, and 235 parking spaces, would be built on land owned by the San Diego State University Foundation. At the end of the 50-year lease, the building would revert to the foundation — though the university can buy it after ten years, according to the plans.
"Despite evidence that this is a dorm, it is not being built to dorm standards that require a parking space for each bed," College Area Community Council member Robert Montana said. "If anybody is ever going to hold the city's feet to the fire and speak back to power so that the city is going to have to obey its own ordinances, it's going to be us."
With that, the 20 or so members of the council voted unanimously to include the legal definition of a dormitory into their rejection of the plan.
Classified as a multi-unit plan, the building would meet SDSU standards for student housing and be policed by SDSU cops and managed by SDSU residence managers. It would have four beds per apartment, lease by the bed, and residents would have to be enrolled at SDSU. But it's not a dorm, according to Capstone Properties.
“We develop and manage both dorm and nondorm properties,” said Capstone vice president Chad Izmirian. “We’re serious about this project.”
Capstone had made changes to the project after the first meeting, including reducing height by one story, adding some landscaping in front, increasing setbacks, enclosing the courtyard, and removing balconies because of noise concerns.
“We have more parking than is required by code,” Izmirian said — which is true if the building is called a multi-use project.
But if it’s a dorm, there isn’t enough parking, Montana said. The parking is tandem-style, where cars park in columns hood to bumper and have to be moved to let the inside cars out.
“I’ve been impacted by the Alvarado [apartment project],” councilmember Terry Shirley said. “What we’ve learned is there’s never enough parking.”