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Residents of Uptown are preparing up for an all too familiar fight. On Thursday, a group of Uptown denizens will lobby San Diego's planning commissioners to recommend yet another extension of the Interim Height Ordinance in Uptown.

The ordinance, which limits buildings in portions of Bankers Hill and Hillcrest to 65 feet and 50 feet in Mission Hills, and bolsters the permitting process, was passed in 2008 after residents began to see an influx of proposals for tall buildings in their community. They worried new development would destroy community character.

That ordinance is set to lapse next month, and residents are again asking commissioners to recommend that the city council extend the height ordinance until the community plan is adopted, sometime in 2013.

But not all residents agree. A group of local architects, developers and others feel it is flawed; that the ordinance silences the community and ruins opportunities for quality development projects. They want planning commissioners and elected officials to water down the regulations, or get rid of it all together.

To get their message out, critics of the ordinance started a Facebook page, calling it "I.H. No."

"In order to attract people, good place-making, good architecture, good street design and sufficient density... The [Interim Height Ordinance] has the propensity to kill all four of these. By severely limiting building construction, [it] could eventually cause rents and housing prices to increase, causing local merchants to leave and changing the character of the neighborhood," reads the group's Facebook profile.

In October, members of the City's "code monitoring team" voted against the ordinance as written, saying it circumvents the planning process. The team, comprised of members from the Association of Architects, Building Industry Association, and other construction groups, warned against tying the ordinance to the completion of the community plan because there is not set date for completion, and no guarantee that it will be completed.

Planning commissioners will hear the item at a 9am hearing at City Hall.

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The developers behind this don't seem to want to identify themselves. There are no names of the people behind the Facebook page for IHNO, nor their alt-ego FB page, Great Streets San Diego (GSSD).

On these FB pages, all of the usual developer entities are "liked," such as the SD Architectural Foundation and American Planning Assoc. They all want to build as high as the sky, and won't stop pushing to get rid of regulations until the City gives them the right to do it. There's more profit in height, though of course they sell height as "green" or "environmentally sound" or "necessary because of population growth and need for sustainability." Whatever it takes.

A little googling yields one name, Walter S Chambers, as the Director at GSSD. He works for a major development-related contractor paid by the City of San Diego, KMA Architecture +Engineering. Surprise, surprise.

Another "like," UrbDeZine San Diego, is a pro-development website featuring many CCDC links and Marco Li Mandri's photo on the top page.

Although the developers don't want to identify themselves, you can, by signing the petition to extend the Interim Height Ordinance, here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/iho-extension/signatures

Dec. 5, 2011

The Uptown Community Plan is decades old and plans for a community with Downtown-style high-rises and densities, something many in Uptown have never wanted. The Interim Height Ordinance is meant to prevent the over-building of Uptown until the Community Plan is updated to reflect the vision of its community. If you support the community of Uptown as it has existed for the past century, please show your support by signing the IHO petition at:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/iho-extension/

Dec. 6, 2011

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