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College-Rolando Library could end up with no parking

Friendly deal with College Lutheran now in hands of Blue Falcon

Student housing proposed at 6650 Montezuma Road
Student housing proposed at 6650 Montezuma Road

Friends of the College-Rolando Library are unhappy with a plan they say could jeopardize its future. It's not about the student housing proposed at 6650 Montezuma Road, adjacent to the library.

The problem is parking, and a botched agreement for access that will lead to a future of conflicts between library patrons and students if it isn't fixed now, they say.

Built by the city in 2005, the library shared an access driveway from Montezuma Road, and 31 parking spots, with the College Lutheran Church, which owned the parcel. As part of their joint-use agreement, the city had first rights to purchase the driveway and parking for public use if the property was sold.

In December 2016, east San Diego library patrons faced an unwelcome sight: the driveway had been chained off by a new owner.

That's when the community became aware of "yet another failed city real estate deal," according to Jan Hintzman, president of the Friends of the College-Rolando Library.

It turned out that the church had notified the city of their intent to sell and invited them to exercise their option to purchase the driveway and parking they had built. But the city didn't respond, and the 1.86 acre parcel was sold to 52 Blue Falcon, LLC.

All through 2017, library access and parking were squeezed. Service levels dropped as much as one half of normal levels. That year, the new owner sought a community plan amendment to build a hotel at the site.

In 2019 the city entered into the current joint use agreement with Blue Falcon, which provides the 31 parking spots - but advocates say it's subject to easy revocation, allows closure during construction, and expires in 18 years (with a city option to renew).

Now, the owner is seeking another community plan amendment - this time for student housing, which will bring far more traffic than a hotel. Friends of College-Rolando Library want the city to fix the agreement before that happens.

The city should at last protect the library by ensuring permanent, irrevocable access and parking, they say.

In March, the city planning commission granted the request to initiate a community plan change to upzone the parcel, but made it clear to the developer and the city that a permanent solution for library access, like a city easement or deed restriction, must be found before the project comes back to them.

Supporters still worry. At the end of that hearing, planner Tait Galloway inserted "that there was a joint-use agreement already in place," separate from the 6650 Montezuma application, Hintzman told the land use and housing committee last week, asking for their help.

And in June, when the College Area Community Planning Board subcommittee reviewed the proposal, the owner's agent, Atlantis, said the owner would not consider an easement or deed restriction to secure library access and parking in perpetuity. A joint-use agreement would be enough to protect the library, they said.

Hintzman warned that "an unused library will remain a monument to ongoing failed real estate deals and hollow promises of equity."

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Student housing proposed at 6650 Montezuma Road
Student housing proposed at 6650 Montezuma Road

Friends of the College-Rolando Library are unhappy with a plan they say could jeopardize its future. It's not about the student housing proposed at 6650 Montezuma Road, adjacent to the library.

The problem is parking, and a botched agreement for access that will lead to a future of conflicts between library patrons and students if it isn't fixed now, they say.

Built by the city in 2005, the library shared an access driveway from Montezuma Road, and 31 parking spots, with the College Lutheran Church, which owned the parcel. As part of their joint-use agreement, the city had first rights to purchase the driveway and parking for public use if the property was sold.

In December 2016, east San Diego library patrons faced an unwelcome sight: the driveway had been chained off by a new owner.

That's when the community became aware of "yet another failed city real estate deal," according to Jan Hintzman, president of the Friends of the College-Rolando Library.

It turned out that the church had notified the city of their intent to sell and invited them to exercise their option to purchase the driveway and parking they had built. But the city didn't respond, and the 1.86 acre parcel was sold to 52 Blue Falcon, LLC.

All through 2017, library access and parking were squeezed. Service levels dropped as much as one half of normal levels. That year, the new owner sought a community plan amendment to build a hotel at the site.

In 2019 the city entered into the current joint use agreement with Blue Falcon, which provides the 31 parking spots - but advocates say it's subject to easy revocation, allows closure during construction, and expires in 18 years (with a city option to renew).

Now, the owner is seeking another community plan amendment - this time for student housing, which will bring far more traffic than a hotel. Friends of College-Rolando Library want the city to fix the agreement before that happens.

The city should at last protect the library by ensuring permanent, irrevocable access and parking, they say.

In March, the city planning commission granted the request to initiate a community plan change to upzone the parcel, but made it clear to the developer and the city that a permanent solution for library access, like a city easement or deed restriction, must be found before the project comes back to them.

Supporters still worry. At the end of that hearing, planner Tait Galloway inserted "that there was a joint-use agreement already in place," separate from the 6650 Montezuma application, Hintzman told the land use and housing committee last week, asking for their help.

And in June, when the College Area Community Planning Board subcommittee reviewed the proposal, the owner's agent, Atlantis, said the owner would not consider an easement or deed restriction to secure library access and parking in perpetuity. A joint-use agreement would be enough to protect the library, they said.

Hintzman warned that "an unused library will remain a monument to ongoing failed real estate deals and hollow promises of equity."

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Comments
1

Why was the church demolished? Are they going to cut off the cul-de-sac that connects the library to Mowhawk Street (behind the Ralphs supermarket)?

These dumb housing projects for SDSU will wind up being regular apartments after a while or mixed-population buildings, just watch. Covid-19 has done a number on the university.

Sept. 21, 2021

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