John: "Go up on top of the street by Tonopah, and you'll notice the difference."
Word on the Bay Park streets is much quieter since the Seaton Apartments went up and is nearly completed this month. On April 18 I drove around the Mission Bay-overlooking neighborhood between the Sea World Drive and Clairemont Drive exits along I-5, and shouting distance east of the Coaster commuter train tracks and soon-to-be transversed : Mid-Coast Trolley tramway — to listen in.
"It's much quieter, like 80 percent less noisy now," said John S., who was "admiring" the new architecture of the Seaton Apartments. "The walls are buffering or soundproofing the air and noise, it seems. Go up on top of the street by Tonopah [Avenue], and you'll notice the difference."
I drove around the complex, which faces W. Morena Boulevard and Mission Bay, found my way to Tonopah Avenue, then made another right on Frankfort Street, which is on the back end of the apartment complex. I descended Frankfort and noticed the I-5 freeway noise level decreased.
"It is quieter," agreed Albert, a Circle K convenience store employee. "And at about 2 o'clock, there's always a big train that's heavy that passes by."
Albert at Circle K: "They think it's modernizing the whole area."
Albert's store is on Franklin Street and Morena Boulevard across the street from the new apartment complex. According to ApartmentFinder.com, there is "No Availability" amongst its 150, one-and-two bedroom, 900-1000 sq./ft. units.
"Mostly everyone that comes in, they [say they] are really liking new apartments and everything," continued Albert. "They think it's modernizing the whole area. Because if you looked in that area [before], it was a trailer park."
From 1941 up to a couple of years ago, the Coastal Trailer Villa was home to 90 mobile homes.
Albert's friend chimed into our discussion, "I work at the [Roberto's] taco shop next door. I think it's going to benefit us; it'll bring us more business."
"The apartments have their own parking, but if they have visitors, that's probably going to be a problem," Albert said as he glanced in the direction of his friend.
She nodded in agreement. "And the visitors can't park over here in our parking lot, and across the street, there's a bus station."
From 1941 up to a couple of years ago, this area, formerly known as Coastal Trailer Villa, was home to 90 mobile homes. The developers got rid of the mobile homes and built the new Seaton complex beginning at the right side of the infamous Light Bulb Warehouse seen from the I-5 Freeway to the opposite end by Circle K.
"Their visitors will have to park up in the neighborhood," said Ed, who's lived in the area since 1989. "That's a big jump: from 90 mobile homes to 150 apartments.
West Morena Blvd. and Morena Blvd.
"The 30-foot height restriction was bypassed, and now that new building blocks the views of the homeowners. I wonder what that'll do to our home prices."
According to Redfin: "In March 2021, Bay Park home prices were down 13.6 percent compared to last year, selling for a median price of $865K. On average, homes in Bay Park sell after nine days on the market compared to 11 days last year. There were 16 homes sold in March this year, unchanged from 16 last year."
"It's the homeowners; they're the ones that are complaining really," said Albert as he rang up his next customer. "But for us, it's good."
In 2014, I spoke with Jim LaMattery, a real estate agent who, with his neighbors, created the "Raise the Balloon" gathering. They walked a giant red helium balloon 60 feet in the air along Morena Boulevard to help the dwellers visualize where the city of San Diego could, at the time, allow developers to build tall condos in the Bay Park and Linda Vista planning areas.
I reached out to LaMattery, but he didn't respond when this article went to print.
"We can't rely on our San Diego representatives to have our backs and oppose SB-330 as political pressure to approve it comes from the democratic platform," LaMattery posted in part on NextDoor before the "noise buffering" apartments went up. "The outcome of these new mandated laws broadly applied with broad stokes, such as the new removal of parking space requirements and protective height limits, to all areas of the county without regard to individual communities' character. [This] will be declining the quality of life from what we know to what will be [a] reality soon everywhere across the State of California."
A local physical therapist interjected in part on LaMattery's Facebook page, "Morena and Loma Portal are eyesores. I welcome redevelopment. Getting rid of trailer parks, tired shopping malls, car lots, liquor stores, etc., makes sense. [They] probably will renovate some of the apartments along that strip as well. Not likely they will build six-story high rises all along the boulevard."