Two planning groups that share Park Boulevard as a boundary formed a task force to look at the historic district on Park between Upas St. and Robinson street, one that the city’s historic resources board reported on in June.
“The process is already underway and this gives people a place to go with questions,” Roy Dahl said. “It doesn’t create a historic district.”
But opponents said it is a bad idea.
“It will lower property values,” said Sharon Gale, a Mission Hills resident. “No one pays attention to the residential (historic) districts that have already been created – no one goes there.”
The city’s Historical Resource Board issued a report in 2016 that identified 19 potential historic districts in Uptown, one of the first areas settled in San Diego. Besides Park Boulevard, a half dozen Bankers Hill and more sites in Mission Hills are on the list.
Amie Hayes, a member of Uptown Planners, proposed the joint subcommittee with North Park. Both North Park and Uptown got new community plans in 2016 that allow for intense development along transit corridors including sections of El Cajon Boulevard, University Avenue, 30th Street and Park. In those areas, developers can add height and more units than zoning allows if they build close to transit corridors, include affordable housing and if the project achieves a certain density.
Both planning groups had serious concerns with the final plans handed to and approved by the city council – because they were substantially different than the plans they’d spent seven years crafting and making compromises to get to. Most of the concerns come down to building tall buildings – and not improving community amenities — in the city’s older neighborhoods. "Historic districts don't prevent growth, they manage growth," Hayes said.
But proponents of the density changes said they also set out to protect residential neighborhoods and historic districts, and the city historic resources board is currently looking at about a dozen in North Park and Golden Hill. North Park has four existing historic districts.
The area’s subcommittee on historic districts looked at the city reports on Aug. 2 and proposed working with Uptown, where the west side of Park Boulevard rests. Historic districts have their problems, including stringent and often costly requirements for repairs that must match the original structure. They do get a break on their property taxes, however.
Uptown chairman Leo Wilson reminded members that the action does not create a historic district, it just increases residents’ participation.
“Let me remind you that two years ago Uptown Planners supported Mission Hills residents that didn’t want to be a historic district,” he said.
Opponents say the proposed historic district will block growth. Ian Epley called the districts “stupid” and vowed to fight them.
“I think that buildings don’t have history, people have history” Epley said. “I don’t know where the historical resources board has gotten their power but they are out of control. (the districts) are a subjective view from somebody’s hobby and passion.”