Del Cerro Action Council has been receiving emails and phone calls regarding the new Save Del Cerro group being promoted on Facebook and Nextdoor. The enquires are from community members wondering if this is the same Save Del Cerro group as the one from 2007. At that time, DCAC supported the effort to oppose SDSU’s 2007 master plan to develop 540 housing units in Adobe Falls without providing any mitigation to traffic. The opposition was a team effort — DCAC partnered with the City of San Diego, San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), and the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS).
In short, no. None of the leadership in the 2007 Save Del Cerro group is part of this current Save Del Cerro effort.
Those who recall, in the SDSU master plan development, traffic would have utilized Adobe Falls Road, Mill Peak Road, Arno Drive, Helena Place, Genoa Drive, Capri Drive, Del Cerro Boulevard and College Avenue to get to SDSU daily. This traffic would have collided with Hearst Elementary traffic during the same time. DCAC and the original Save Del Cerro were adamant that SDSU provide a mitigation plan to reduce traffic in Del Cerro by providing an alternate way in and out of Adobe Falls. It was a classic David and Goliath story. After years of litigation, SDSU was forced to reduce its master plan design down to 240 units in Adobe Falls.
The current Save Del Cerro group fiercely opposes the development of the All Peoples Church, a conservative Christian church. Many of their posts are filled with half-truths and distorted facts. To date, they haven’t been willing to engage with DCAC, nor with church leadership to address their concerns. Instead, they use Facebook and NextDoor to spread propaganda against the church. They have labeled it as a “mega” church and are distorting the church building layout as massive. The proposed church capacity is only 100 more people than St. Therese — and St. Therese has a school on site. The majority of the buildings, including the top floor of the parking structure, will be set below the College Avenue street sight line. Additionally, the church is being built on 5.6 acres of land that is locked in a canyon. There is no other land available for the church to expand.
This group has also failed to mention that the church has proactively worked closely with, and been accommodating to, the community and nearby neighbors for over two years to address concerns about the impact of the development in the neighborhood. They have been providing updates on their progress with the city on their building plans to DCAC and NCPI with complete transparency. In any development there are unknowns and details that are being worked out with the city. If they don’t currently have all of the answers, it doesn’t mean they are hiding something with the city.
A topic that needs to be addressed is the Save Del Cerro group’s hostile view on the All Peoples Church’s beliefs. The Save Del Cerro organizers and core followers believe that the church’s values don’t align to Del Cerro community values and thus should not be built in Del Cerro as to their own admission during a Fox 5 News interview. That is an opinion which is not necessarily shared by the rest of the residents of Del Cerro. Freedom of religion is a First Amendment right and no group or individual has the right to tell any religion that they cannot co-exist. It doesn’t matter if a mosque, temple, church, or synagogue is being built — the issue of religion should not be a discussion point when it comes to private property land use and development.
The primary issue is traffic and congestion in Del Cerro. That is a concern I share. But this traffic issue is much different than with the SDSU 2007 master plan. The peak of the church’s travel is at Del Cerro’s lowest traffic pattern throughout the week — Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings. The main concern is the “right turn only” into, and out of, the church parking lot. If church traffic were to be limited to right turn only into and out of the property, the church development plan could have a serious issue. However, the church has proposed, and city staff has tentatively accepted, a new signalized intersection at the church’s driveway. If approved by City Council, it would cross the College Avenue median just after the “Welcome to Del Cerro” sign. (The church has offered to work with the Friends of Del Cerro to ensure that their landscape and tree planting plans for the median will enhance the community’s median enhancement efforts.) The light would be designed to only turn red when a car in the parking lot would be turning left on to College Avenue to head south to I-8, or left from College Avenue going south and turning in to the church parking lot. They will use technology that will not activate the traffic signal if a car is turning right out of the parking lot to head north on College Avenue.
If this signal is approved, the project will have provided traffic mitigation for the community of Del Cerro. Is it enough to reduce traffic? Will it pass at Navajo Community Planners? Don’t know, but there is a plan to address the “right turn only” issue.
So where is the church in its development plans? My understanding is that they have worked through many of the details and answered concerns of most city departments. The Church will soon make its fourth submittal to the city. If this addresses the remaining issues, the city will move forward with an environmental review of the project per the California Environmental Quality Act. This document will be available for public review and comment. This is a time where the community will have an opportunity to provide any feedback or concerns about potential impacts the project may have.
Once adjudicated, including issuance of the environmental and traffic reports, the church project will then go before NCPI, City of San Diego Planning Commission, and finally to the San Diego City Council for a vote. Public comment will be welcomed after each of the presentations at NCPI, the San Diego Planning Commission and the City Council. Community planning groups such as NCPI are the only advisory groups officially recognized by the City of San Diego.
If you have any questions pertaining to the All Peoples Church development, I recommend visiting the project’s website at light.allpeopleschurch.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like information about when the project is scheduled to be heard by the NCPI visit their website www.navajoplanners.org.
— Mark Rawlins is president of the Del Cerro Action Council.