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Regents Road bridge, deleted

University City residents sue over council decision

A group of San Diego residents is suing the City of San Diego for deleting long-term plans to build the Regents Road bridge from the University City Community Plan.

The proposed bridge, in discussion for four decades, would provide drivers and pedestrians with another north and south bound link by spanning Rose Canyon. Not all University City residents have supported the bridge. During the past 40 years, some neighbors objected due to the environmental impacts the bridge would have on the canyon while others claimed the true impact to the environment would occur by allowing current traffic congestion to remain on Genesee Avenue.

In recent years the debate intensified as the city moved forward with updating the University City community plan. In September 2014 the city's planning commission recommended initiating the environmental studies needed in order to proceed with the community plan update but without the bridge component included.

By June 2016 the environmental studies were completed. Engineers who wrote the report found that deleting the bridge from the plan would pose "significant and unmitigated environmental impacts" in regards to greenhouse gas pollution, traffic, and noise.

But supporters of the bridge were not without some victory. Seeking compromise, planning commissioners in October 2016 recommended that the bridge be placed back into the plan while an accompanying measure to widen Genesee Avenue be excluded.

The following month, a council committee forwarded the recommendation to the city council.

On December 5, 2016, the city council met to sign off on the proposed amendment. After several hours of testimony, the council, in a six to two vote, rejected the commission's proposal and decided to move forward with the update without the bridge and without the widening of Genesee Avenue.

Now, the city must defend the city council's action. The lawsuit contends that the council's last-minute change violates the California Environmental Quality Act by failing to address the impacts created by deleting both the bridge and plans to widen Genessee Avenue. The complaint also alleges the council failed to examine the impacts that would be created in surrounding neighborhoods if the Regents Road bridge were built.

The complaint points out that the Regents Road bridge was included in the city's bicycle master plan as well as San Diego's "City of Villages" planning approach.

The petitioners are asking a judge to halt the implementation of the amendment and perform the necessary environmental studies needed to advance the plan. The case will make its way through San Diego Superior Court.

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A group of San Diego residents is suing the City of San Diego for deleting long-term plans to build the Regents Road bridge from the University City Community Plan.

The proposed bridge, in discussion for four decades, would provide drivers and pedestrians with another north and south bound link by spanning Rose Canyon. Not all University City residents have supported the bridge. During the past 40 years, some neighbors objected due to the environmental impacts the bridge would have on the canyon while others claimed the true impact to the environment would occur by allowing current traffic congestion to remain on Genesee Avenue.

In recent years the debate intensified as the city moved forward with updating the University City community plan. In September 2014 the city's planning commission recommended initiating the environmental studies needed in order to proceed with the community plan update but without the bridge component included.

By June 2016 the environmental studies were completed. Engineers who wrote the report found that deleting the bridge from the plan would pose "significant and unmitigated environmental impacts" in regards to greenhouse gas pollution, traffic, and noise.

But supporters of the bridge were not without some victory. Seeking compromise, planning commissioners in October 2016 recommended that the bridge be placed back into the plan while an accompanying measure to widen Genesee Avenue be excluded.

The following month, a council committee forwarded the recommendation to the city council.

On December 5, 2016, the city council met to sign off on the proposed amendment. After several hours of testimony, the council, in a six to two vote, rejected the commission's proposal and decided to move forward with the update without the bridge and without the widening of Genesee Avenue.

Now, the city must defend the city council's action. The lawsuit contends that the council's last-minute change violates the California Environmental Quality Act by failing to address the impacts created by deleting both the bridge and plans to widen Genessee Avenue. The complaint also alleges the council failed to examine the impacts that would be created in surrounding neighborhoods if the Regents Road bridge were built.

The complaint points out that the Regents Road bridge was included in the city's bicycle master plan as well as San Diego's "City of Villages" planning approach.

The petitioners are asking a judge to halt the implementation of the amendment and perform the necessary environmental studies needed to advance the plan. The case will make its way through San Diego Superior Court.

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Comments
7

What the HELL is going on with the city council and these community plan updates?!

Not satisfied with putting taxpayers on the hook for a lawsuit to defend their Uptown plan update fiasco, the very next day after that suit was filed, they voted for a University City update that is also against what the community wants and in violation of CEQA.

Guess we can expect a lawsuit on every update going forward, because council members keep putting their own political and campaign donor agendas ahead of acting on behalf of their actual constituents.

Jan. 9, 2017

Oxymoron:

"the bridge doesn't provide any congestion relief--it simply moves traffic off the 5 and 805"

In other words, the bridge DOES provide congestion relief to the 5 and 805.

Jan. 10, 2017

@Oxymoron

I think you're missing the point of the infrastructure within residential areas: they are supposed to move traffic within the community, not through the community. Piping freeway traffic through a residential area with multiple schools around it is not a solution to any problem, it would be the cause of the problem.

Jan. 10, 2017

People who commute on the 5 and 805 would benefit from Regents road alleviating some of their traffic. People who live in UC would suffer from the problems you mention. That's the tradeoff.

Jan. 10, 2017

@Cassander

It doesn't make sense to claim that the decision went against what the community wants. You don't have the numbers. The pro-bridge camp is in a minority in University City. The past votes for community representatives shows that very clearly.

You are speaking for yourself and a few others, not the majority of the community. Your claims are specious and do not reflect the reality: the process was prolonged and at practically every stage the need for the bridge was weak (small or nonexistent benefits) and the costs heavy (environmental and financial).

Jan. 10, 2017

@Dorian

"Not all University City residents have supported the bridge."

What a piece of misinformation! Fair reporting would have noted that most of the community members are AGAINST the bridge and AGAINST the Genesee Avenue widening. The votes for community member representatives show that very clearly: name one who was elected on a pro-bridge agenda.

Concerning the bike master plan: you make it sound like the bicyclists are losing out here. Not so: traveling on Regents Road would have been dangerous and not very pleasant. The community Planning Group worked hard to enable bicyclists to travel through University City. The Gilman route is going to provide a connection that was sorely needed and the Regents Road bike path is not needed.

Jan. 10, 2017

There's a reason this bridge hasn't been built in 40 years. It has always been politically unpopular enough to make most city councilmembers reluctant to approve it. One of the most vocal proponents of the bridge is Harry Mathis who was on the city council for 8 years and never brought it to a vote. I was at the Dec 5th council meeting and the opponents of the bridge outnumbered the proponents by about 2:1 - so there is plenty of support for taking this bridge out of the plan. There is also the small matter of funding. The bridge is now estimated at $60-$70 million, and there is about $20 million in the FBA (developer fee) account. All the less controversial projects got done already. Keep in mind that there are further improvements already in the works on 5 and 805, plus the trolley - all with the goal of reducing rush hour congestion. I'd like to see how those play out before agreeing to pull freeway traffic off the freeways and into neighborhoods.

Jan. 10, 2017

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