By Doug Curlee | Editor at Large
The long-awaited Environmental Impact Report about the proposed redevelopment of Grantville and the surrounding area is now posted on several city websites, with a 30-day public comment window open.
You can, and should, access the report most easily by going to the City Clerk’s website at sandiego.gov/city-clerk/officialdocs/notices/index-shtml.
Be warned: This is not a summer beach read. It’s 531 pages of densely packed information that must be read slowly and thoroughly in order to get the gist of what’s being said.
The first thing you’ll need to do is print out the long — very long — list of acronyms and their definitions that appears near the front of the report. Without that cheat sheet, it’s virtually impossible to understand what’s being said. Even with it, it’s a hard slog.
As I trekked through the document, one section grabbed my attention quickly — one phrase that seemed to call attention to some things that will bother a lot of people as the effort proceeds to change industrial Grantville to something that will reflect the city’s commitment to the “City of Villages” concept built around the Grantville Trolley stop.
That phrase is “significant and unmitigable.”
Translated to plain English, that means, “It’ll be a problem, and there’s nothing much we can do about it.”
In the report, it begins at Section 8.2, headlined “Cumulative Impacts found to be significant.”
LAND USE (NOISE)
Much of what the EIR proposes falls afoul of the city’s General Plan. Noise levels in the area already exceed the city limit of 65 decibels (weighted), and the noise levels will only increase with the major project construction that will have to happen to make some of these redevelopment dreams come true. It’s true that some of that noise will dwindle as projects are completed, the projects themselves will bring in new residents, more cars, and just generally more noise to the area — noise that will not go away.
The EIR lays out a number of measures that will mitigate some of the problems, but not enough to fit within the city’s General Plan. The cumulative effect of the buildup in noise levels is now considered to be “significant and unmitigable.” That may require a change in the city’s General Plan, making the increased noise levels at least legal, if not palatable.
Elsewhere in this issue, Editor Hutton Marshall has admirably and clearly delineated the traffic and circulation issues that surround the implementation of the projects considered in the EIR, so I won’t spend much time on this, other than to say that the report itself states that a number of the mitigation efforts proposed are simply not feasible, and the cumulative impact would be “significant and unmitigable.” After all, we are talking about nine intersections, 15 street segments, eight freeway segments, and one freeway ramp.
AIR QUALITY AND ODOR
The area is already running afoul of the federal and state standards for ozone and particulate matter in the air, although the report says we are getting better about that. But the pure fact is that the proposed redevelopment is going to bring more pollution and odor into the area. There will be a sharp rise when all the construction is being done, but that will diminish as jobs are completed. That still leaves increased levels from people — and cars — who will be living and working in all those redeveloped apartments, condos and homes and offices.
The report calls that “long-term cumulative operational air quality impacts,” and admits those will be “cumulatively significant and unmitigable.”
You can be sure someone — likely several someones — will be asking about all this and more in the EIR.
The city website will tell you how to do so by mail, but you only have until Feb. 2 to do so.
Give the report a thorough read. It’s the future of your community, once we figure out how to get all this paid for.
But, that’s another story.
—Contact Doug Curlee at firstname.lastname@example.org.