Kearny Mesa planning area
The updated community plan for Kearny Mesa includes more than 40 miles of bikeways and numerous paths for pedestrians – but rezoning for the sake of selling cars?
Not this time around.
As a 30-year plan, commissioners wanted to take the long view, to a time when self-driving cars and seamless transit have revised the roadways.
"There's a model out there. Call it the Tesla model. The car industry is changing," said commission chair Bill Hofman, adding that the auto businesses would now have to design around pedestrian-friendly areas.
Auto dealerships have flourished throughout Kearny Mesa's history, but shoppers are going online and taking virtual test drives.
A letter from land-use attorney Andrea Contreras argued that "inventory must be displayed in parking lots in front of the dealership" – which Hofman disputed. There's no need anymore "to have masses of cars to look pretty for people to drive by."
The commission voted on July 30 to recommend the city council approve the new plan covering about 4,400 acres with one amendment: to create a specific plan for the Convoy district – one of the largest Pan-Asian business districts in the U.S.
It's known for its restaurants and car dealerships.
"It's a complicated area," said commissioner Vicki Granowitz, who sought the amendment. Comments rolled in during the workshop phase, suggesting the change.
The district, which lies east of Interstate 805, west of State Route 163, and south of State Route 52, is "skimmed over in lots of ways" in the community plan, she said. The specific plan would include both the Pan-Asian area and the car dealerships.
The area is going to transition into something else, along with the car dealerships, Granowitz said. "And I would be opposed to anything that downzones" the area since it's a 30-year plan, and our relationship with cars is going to change.
That's the future; but what about the past?
The seemingly faceless Kearny Mesa, chopped up by four major freeways and home to warehouses and manufacturing as far back as 1937 – beginning with Gibbs Airfield, now Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport – didn't undergo a historical survey in the update process.
Planners found nothing worthy of preservation. Instead, a historic statement was produced that lists buildings and areas that have potential historic interest.
The historic statement suggests why the sprawling community can be hard to place. Over the years the name Kearny Mesa "was used loosely to refer to the geographic region that stretches from Mission Valley to the Los Peñasquitos Canyon and now includes Kearny Mesa, Clairemont, Linda Vista, Mira Mesa, and parts of other communities."
Historic preservation group, Save Our Heritage, disagreed.
Granowitz said the historic preservation stuff was difficult to sort out "because it's new." But she hoped there would be follow-through related to the letter from Save Our Heritage, and "what was agreed on."
That is, a specific date to reevaluate the Pan-Asian presence in Kearny Mesa, as well as the aerospace industry.
"I had never thought about the aerospace industry in historic terms but it is really an important part of San Diego's history, and a lot of it did happen here."