Civita is one of the largest master-planned communities in recent San Diego history.
  • Civita is one of the largest master-planned communities in recent San Diego history.
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On Thursday, August 24, San Diego's planning commissioners will consider a proposal to build a freeway connector from Mission Valley through the heart of one of San Diego's largest master-planned communities and into Serra Mesa.

The road, which would run from Friars Road in Mission Valley to Phyllis Place in Serra Mesa, has been on the city's drawing board for a number of years. However, planners and developers shelved the plan in 2008 when developer Sudberry Properties announced plans to build a 230-acre, two-billion-dollar mixed-use development named Civita.

In order to push the project through, Sudberry touted Civita as the future of Mission Valley development, a transit- and pedestrian-oriented community. City officials praised the plan as fitting perfectly into its "City of Villages" planning strategy, aimed at taking people out of their cars and onto sidewalks and bike lanes.

In April 2016, the city announced its plans to build the freeway connector straight through the community. Residents were stunned.

They formed a group, Save Civita, to oppose the project. Their efforts soon gained traction. The group says they conducted surveys and found more than 400 homeowners in Civita oppose the connector road.

Since 2016, community planning groups in Mission Valley and Serra Mesa recommended the city not proceed with construction. They say the road does not provide a quicker route to Interstate 805 and instead will turn the walkable, transit-friendly community into a pedestrian death trap, with more than 34,000 cars running through Civita.

In May of this year, after hearing complaints from Mission Valley and Serra Mesa residents, North Park's planning group decided to remain neutral.

"Civita is a thriving, growing neighborhood with residents bicycling, exercising, walking with toddlers and pets, and pushing baby strollers," reads a report from Civita residents that will be presented at Thursday's hearing.

"This community cannot successfully serve two diametrically opposed purposes. It cannot be a safe, walkable dense urban village, designed in the mode of a self-contained live, work play environment, and be a conduit for freeway traffic at the same time."

Adds the report, "Civita should be a neighborhood and a destination, not a short-cut directed by GPS."

The planning commission meets at 9 a.m. in city hall.

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Comments

ryardley Aug. 22, 2017 @ 5:02 p.m.

This is a very good article on the pushback from Civita. And yes, we here at Civita were stunned this plan resurfaced in 2016 after being shelved in 2008 as an example of terrible planning.

The only correction I would make to the article is that North Park is not "neutral" on the road, but rather, "not supporting" it, which is different.

The North Park Planning Committee [NPPC] sent a "letter of comment" to the City Planning Department in 2016 regarding the proposed Connector Road that was highly critical of the City's PEIR done for the connector road. The letter stated there would be no support of the PEIR unless there were significant and binding mitigations. However, the City Planning Dept. misrepresented it as a letter of "support" which was far from the truth. Here is what the NPPC cover letter of 2016 actually said:

"We have conducted an extensive review of the PEIR and while we appreciate the work that went into to it, we unfortunately find it lacking for reasons to numerous to include in this cover letter. When a PEIR includes the number of errors, lack of adequate documentation and general inadequacies as this one does, the analysis and conclusions cannot be trusted and provide limited and suspect guidance for future development. NPPC Board Members have expressed [being] satisfied with the NPCPU [North Park Community Plan Update], if not the PEIR, and would like to see the NPCPU move forward. However, they will only do so if there are significant and binding mitigations offered by the City and at the very least a timeline and commitment to provide the requested studies and analyses."

Then on May 16, 2017, five days after a May 11 article was published by the Reader saying a small sub-committee of the NPPC had recommended sending a letter of support for the connector road, this issue came before the larger NPPC regarding whether or not they should vote to submit a second letter of comment, ostensibly in support. However, after taking public comment from residents of Serra Mesa and Mission Valley who were strongly opposed to the road, significant discussion occurred among Board members, after which, the NPPC voted 10-1-0 to "withhold their support" [read: don't support] of the Connector. This added the North Park Planning Committee to both the Serra Mesa and the Mission Valley Planning Groups, all three, of which, have now voted either to "oppose" or "not to support" the connector road.

And yet the City Planning Dept. continues to inaccurately use parts of the old NPPC letter in their just-released, Final EIR, as indication of North Park's support, which is inaccurate and unconscionable.

The next hurdle is the Planning Commission, then the Smart Growth Committee, and finally the City Council.

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AlexClarke Aug. 23, 2017 @ 8:08 a.m.

Follow the money and you will find who owns and operates the City Planning Department.

1

AdamGardner Aug. 26, 2017 @ 12:59 p.m.

Followed it... The answer is H.G. Fenton.

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TheBigB Aug. 24, 2017 @ 5:47 p.m.

I fail to understand why they didn't have the ramp to the 805 at Mission Center Drive instead of Murray Ridge. It would have made a lot more sense to have it there.

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