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San Diego condemns driveway next to Normal Street

To make room for walkers and bikes on promenade

Normal Street plans
Normal Street plans

After years of delays, Normal Street's pedestrian promenade, which began as a grassroots effort in Hillcrest in 2015, is moving forward. What was the holdup?

A driveway.

Hillcrest Village Square Partners, who have owned the easement for over 50 years, have until now fought off the city's takeover of the driveway at 1440-1458 University Ave, which abuts Normal Street and is one of two access points to their businesses.

Last week, the city council adopted a resolution of necessity to begin the eminent domain process to acquire the property for the Normal Street Promenade project, which will support the San Diego Regional Bike Plan.

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A portion of Normal Street will be reduced from four lanes to two lanes to allow for a public promenade with street trees, decorative pavement, expanded gathering spaces and a separate bikeway.

Arrow marks the troublesome driveway.

The new public space was envisioned as part of the Uptown Community Plan in 2016, as well as SANDAG's bikeways project. It was approved as a Capital Improvements Project in 2019.

Both sides say safety is a central concern.

David Snyder, speaking for a partnership of four owners of East Hill 1440, whose businesses use the driveway, said "the center's normal street access is critical for the safety of our customers and the pedestrians and cyclists who use this area - the exact groups the city and SANDAG are looking to protect."

The closure of the driveway, "moves vehicle traffic from the lowest point of pedestrian and cyclist interaction to the intersection with the highest count of pedestrians and cyclists," he added.

"Increased conflicts are certain to result."

The city says the driveway must close or the promenade likely can't proceed due to vehicles crossing. In order to use eminent domain, the project has to serve public interest and acquisition of the property must be necessary.

Supporters called on the city to move forward without any more delays.

Several redesigns and accommodations were made at the request of Hillcrest Village Square Partners. The city commissioned a parking study to evaluate impacts to the Partners' parking lot.

Mary Carlson, assistant deputy director of the city department of real estate, said the driveway was appraised for $50,000. The "probable amount of compensation" for the property is $85,000. The final amount will be decided by a court or through continued negotiations with the owners.

For now, the city "needs to move forward to acquire the easement of access to meet project deadlines."

The work is currently in the final steps of design; the goal is to start construction in 2024.

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Normal Street plans
Normal Street plans

After years of delays, Normal Street's pedestrian promenade, which began as a grassroots effort in Hillcrest in 2015, is moving forward. What was the holdup?

A driveway.

Hillcrest Village Square Partners, who have owned the easement for over 50 years, have until now fought off the city's takeover of the driveway at 1440-1458 University Ave, which abuts Normal Street and is one of two access points to their businesses.

Last week, the city council adopted a resolution of necessity to begin the eminent domain process to acquire the property for the Normal Street Promenade project, which will support the San Diego Regional Bike Plan.

Sponsored
Sponsored

A portion of Normal Street will be reduced from four lanes to two lanes to allow for a public promenade with street trees, decorative pavement, expanded gathering spaces and a separate bikeway.

Arrow marks the troublesome driveway.

The new public space was envisioned as part of the Uptown Community Plan in 2016, as well as SANDAG's bikeways project. It was approved as a Capital Improvements Project in 2019.

Both sides say safety is a central concern.

David Snyder, speaking for a partnership of four owners of East Hill 1440, whose businesses use the driveway, said "the center's normal street access is critical for the safety of our customers and the pedestrians and cyclists who use this area - the exact groups the city and SANDAG are looking to protect."

The closure of the driveway, "moves vehicle traffic from the lowest point of pedestrian and cyclist interaction to the intersection with the highest count of pedestrians and cyclists," he added.

"Increased conflicts are certain to result."

The city says the driveway must close or the promenade likely can't proceed due to vehicles crossing. In order to use eminent domain, the project has to serve public interest and acquisition of the property must be necessary.

Supporters called on the city to move forward without any more delays.

Several redesigns and accommodations were made at the request of Hillcrest Village Square Partners. The city commissioned a parking study to evaluate impacts to the Partners' parking lot.

Mary Carlson, assistant deputy director of the city department of real estate, said the driveway was appraised for $50,000. The "probable amount of compensation" for the property is $85,000. The final amount will be decided by a court or through continued negotiations with the owners.

For now, the city "needs to move forward to acquire the easement of access to meet project deadlines."

The work is currently in the final steps of design; the goal is to start construction in 2024.

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