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UCSD medical campus gets Dickinson St., parts of Front, First, Arbor

"Arbor Drive will become a major thoroughfare"

A quiet dead-end street in Hillcrest will become a main entry for the new University of California San Diego medical campus.

Last week, the city council approved the privatization of portions of four public streets, against the wishes of longtime residents, who urged the city not to give up the roads.

An amendment to the Uptown Community Plan will remove all of Dickinson Street; Front Street north of Arbor Drive to Dickinson Street; Arbor Drive west of First Avenue; and First Avenue north of Arbor Drive.

Supporters lauded the project's attributes. A new cutting-edge campus; overdue seismic upgrades; multifamily housing; bike lanes connecting Hillcrest to Mission Valley.

"The medical center in Hillcrest provides millions of dollars of essential care to people who have no resources and no insurance," said Councilmember Whitburn.

Others said delaying the project would be a significant financial burden to the university.

But it's different if you live there, one of about two dozen households right across the street from the noise and dust of a construction zone. While a huge parking structure will be built, their residential permit parking will disappear, and they'll have to pay by the hour to use the new or existing public garages.

Residents of Arbor Manor apartments at 125 Arbor Drive say they only recently learned how drastically their neighborhood will change.

John Silva, a 21-year tenant, said the online depictions of the project don't reveal "how seriously this will impact the neighborhood. The additional stoplights at 1st and Arbor, and the elimination of all the parking on the 100 block of West Arbor, where my building is."

Ken Nielsen, who has lived there 20 years, said he works from home and is worried about the noise - but the worst part is losing their residential parking. Visitors like his 80-year-old mother will have nowhere to park. "A lot of tenants have roommates and have only one spot to park in."

Jeff Graham, executive director of real estate for the university, said the apartments have about 32 off-street parking stalls for 24 units, a parking ratio of more than 1.3 per unit, "which exceeds what would probably be built today if a new building were built.

But 125 Arbor Drive is not a new building, and residents aren't thrilled about the university's parking garages where anyone can park by the hour for a fee.

Nielsen said the project maps don't show any connection to the lower part of the apartment's parking lot. "There's just no possible way they're going to be able to build that in."

An environmental impact report for the project was approved in 2019 by the university's board of regents, concluding that all impacts were adequately addressed and disclosed.

Scott Williams, an attorney who represents the apartment owners. said the plans to expand the 62-acre campus involve dramatic changes to area roads. "Arbor Drive in general will become a major thoroughfare as a result of this project."

It's amazing, he said, that the environmental impact report did not assess traffic or noise impacts along Arbor Drive. "The EIR certified by UCSD is so deficient in its assessments" of those impacts "that the city cannot lawfully make its proposed findings and the project findings required by the California Environmental Quality Act.

These are not impacts unique to UCSD, but they are on city streets."

In giving up the streets for private use, the city will benefit by relinquishing liability while still collecting property taxes. No easement reservations are needed, a city report says. Existing streetlights, public storm drains, water and sewer pipes will all be privatized.

For the university, having control of the streets will allow it to implement the circulation network in its long-range development plan and improve public access to the campus.

Currently, the campus area is addled by one-way streets and dead-end roads that are hard for pedestrians and vehicles to navigate. As part of the university's long-range plan, vehicle circulation will move to the outer rim of the mesa and new hospital entrance from First Avenue.

Residents say the growing traffic is already a challenge, especially coming up from Mission Valley via the well-known shortcut.

"I don't think this is about delivery of healthcare," said Lori Saldana. Everyone can agree that's essential, but likewise, "being a good neighbor and making sure the community is not suddenly faced with traffic, noise, and air quality impacts really needs to be evaluated.

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A quiet dead-end street in Hillcrest will become a main entry for the new University of California San Diego medical campus.

Last week, the city council approved the privatization of portions of four public streets, against the wishes of longtime residents, who urged the city not to give up the roads.

An amendment to the Uptown Community Plan will remove all of Dickinson Street; Front Street north of Arbor Drive to Dickinson Street; Arbor Drive west of First Avenue; and First Avenue north of Arbor Drive.

Supporters lauded the project's attributes. A new cutting-edge campus; overdue seismic upgrades; multifamily housing; bike lanes connecting Hillcrest to Mission Valley.

"The medical center in Hillcrest provides millions of dollars of essential care to people who have no resources and no insurance," said Councilmember Whitburn.

Others said delaying the project would be a significant financial burden to the university.

But it's different if you live there, one of about two dozen households right across the street from the noise and dust of a construction zone. While a huge parking structure will be built, their residential permit parking will disappear, and they'll have to pay by the hour to use the new or existing public garages.

Residents of Arbor Manor apartments at 125 Arbor Drive say they only recently learned how drastically their neighborhood will change.

John Silva, a 21-year tenant, said the online depictions of the project don't reveal "how seriously this will impact the neighborhood. The additional stoplights at 1st and Arbor, and the elimination of all the parking on the 100 block of West Arbor, where my building is."

Ken Nielsen, who has lived there 20 years, said he works from home and is worried about the noise - but the worst part is losing their residential parking. Visitors like his 80-year-old mother will have nowhere to park. "A lot of tenants have roommates and have only one spot to park in."

Jeff Graham, executive director of real estate for the university, said the apartments have about 32 off-street parking stalls for 24 units, a parking ratio of more than 1.3 per unit, "which exceeds what would probably be built today if a new building were built.

But 125 Arbor Drive is not a new building, and residents aren't thrilled about the university's parking garages where anyone can park by the hour for a fee.

Nielsen said the project maps don't show any connection to the lower part of the apartment's parking lot. "There's just no possible way they're going to be able to build that in."

An environmental impact report for the project was approved in 2019 by the university's board of regents, concluding that all impacts were adequately addressed and disclosed.

Scott Williams, an attorney who represents the apartment owners. said the plans to expand the 62-acre campus involve dramatic changes to area roads. "Arbor Drive in general will become a major thoroughfare as a result of this project."

It's amazing, he said, that the environmental impact report did not assess traffic or noise impacts along Arbor Drive. "The EIR certified by UCSD is so deficient in its assessments" of those impacts "that the city cannot lawfully make its proposed findings and the project findings required by the California Environmental Quality Act.

These are not impacts unique to UCSD, but they are on city streets."

In giving up the streets for private use, the city will benefit by relinquishing liability while still collecting property taxes. No easement reservations are needed, a city report says. Existing streetlights, public storm drains, water and sewer pipes will all be privatized.

For the university, having control of the streets will allow it to implement the circulation network in its long-range development plan and improve public access to the campus.

Currently, the campus area is addled by one-way streets and dead-end roads that are hard for pedestrians and vehicles to navigate. As part of the university's long-range plan, vehicle circulation will move to the outer rim of the mesa and new hospital entrance from First Avenue.

Residents say the growing traffic is already a challenge, especially coming up from Mission Valley via the well-known shortcut.

"I don't think this is about delivery of healthcare," said Lori Saldana. Everyone can agree that's essential, but likewise, "being a good neighbor and making sure the community is not suddenly faced with traffic, noise, and air quality impacts really needs to be evaluated.

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How coincidental of timing does this, during such an economy, relate to the having of Democratic presidency,~

IF there was Republican presidency leadership........

Oct. 15, 2021

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