The La Mesa police station at 8085 University Avenue opened in 2012, and it’s been five years since the old station located at 8181 Allison Avenue was demolished. The sight of fencing and equipment on the 1.2-acre vacant lot prompted a resident to contact the Reader. “I was returning a library book and saw the equipment,” the resident said. “Do you know what’s happening there?”
Assistant city manager Greg Humora provided answers in May 12 and 16 emails to that question. Additional information about the future of the old police station site was the subject of two items on the La Mesa City Council’s May 9 consent calendar. One calendar item requires the relocation of the farmers market held Fridays in a municipal parking lot located at 4878 Nebo Drive.
Humora wrote that the old police station was built in 1966. “A contractor working for San Diego Gas & Electric is renting the site for materials and equipment storage for their pipeline safety enhancement project. They began use of the property in January, 2017.” SDG&E is paying the city $2,780 per month, according to the 12-month agreement that runs through December.
On May 9, the council unanimously approved a license agreement between La Mesa and San Diego County Water Authority. It allows the authority to store materials and equipment on the old police station property and two other “undeveloped parcels” during a pipeline relining project, according to a public-works department report. The 16-month agreement would start on August 1, 2017, and the authority would pay $3,167 per month for an estimated total of $50,672.
The agreement also covers land at 4948 Nebo Drive, “the location of a sewer pump station.” Materials will be stored there during construction. The third site is the lot where the farmers market is held. It will be used for contractor parking and to facilitate construction of portal 9. According to the report, “The construction will require the relocation of the farmers market. The La Mesa Village Association has expressed interest in taking over the farmers market and moving it to the downtown village.”
The city operates the farmers market through contract with a vendor, Humora said. It will need to relocate in early 2018, and “no decision has been made with respect to relocation or whether the Village Association will be involved.” Humora said the issue will “probably” be scheduled to the council agenda. It is “unknown” when this would occur.
Furthermore, the council unanimously voted to extend by five years the time period for developing “an affordable housing component” for low and moderate income people and families on the old police station site. The extension starts August 30, 2017, and expires on August 30, 2022.
The land was acquired from the city by the former La Mesa Community Redevelopment Agency on December 10, 2008, according to a community-development director Carol Dick’s May 9 report. State redevelopment law allowed a five-year extension “if affordable-housing activities have not been initiated within five years.”
The state dissolved redevelopment agencies in 2011. The land was transferred to the city, with La Mesa serving as the successor housing agency. At that time, the five-year development period started August 30, 2012. Dick wrote, “The dissolution of the former redevelopment agency has impacted and delayed development of the property.” The additional five-year extension allowing the city to keep the property to develop as affordable housing “is in the best interests of the city and the health, safety and welfare of its residents.”