By ELLEN BEVIER
Now that Montezuma Road has been red-curbed from 55th Street to Campanile Drive, maybe we should work on getting the same treatment for College Avenue in front of SDSU’s South Campus Plaza.
Traffic moving up College from Interstate 8 bottlenecks at the top of the hill and is made worse when a driver stops in the bike lane to make a drop-off or pick-up. It may seem to the driver like a brief interval, but it gums up the traffic flow for everyone else. With buses and vehicles from campus entering College Avenue close by, the hazard is obvious. Some red paint — cheap at the price — might really help.
A logical place to make those drop-offs and pick-ups is in the cul-de-sac at the east end of Hardy Avenue. There’s even a pocket park to make it scenic. Right turn from College onto Lindo Paseo, right turn onto Campanile Drive and a third right onto Hardy.
We may see some future construction on the Hardy cul-de-sac. The Agape House at 5863 Hardy is a Lutheran-Episcopal campus ministry established in 1962. The ministry hopes to “construct a five-story mixed-use project on the site” over a single level of underground parking, according to a city summary. As proposed, it would include resident common areas, commercial lease space, facility office space, and dormitory living for 48 students.
Pre-pandemic, the ministry and its architect described their vision to the College Area Community Planning Board’s project review committee and received some general feedback. I wondered if it would go ahead, and then on Aug. 23 the San Diego Development Services Department announced it was ready “to approve, conditionally approve, modify or deny” the construction application. That’s the thing about life during the pandemic — we’ve had disruptions of every kind, but things keep chugging.
Sometimes, though, it feels like notions of what the city should become hum along too quietly.
That was the general sentiment Aug. 24 at the Community Planners Committee (CPC), a forum of representatives from all of San Diego’s volunteer community planning boards.
On the agenda was a presentation called “Spaces as Places” from the city’s Planning Department. It is a menu of options for transitioning temporary outdoor public spaces — allowed because of COVID-19‘s indoor limitations — into permanent uses “for dining, walking, biking, public artwork, and other enjoyable public interaction for the post-pandemic world.”
Another city document explained: “Outdoor dining proliferated for over the past year, often in ways that have resulted in more active and enjoyable use of public spaces not previously experienced prior to the pandemic. In response to this, the Planning Department has been developing the ‘Spaces as Places’ initiative to provide permanent options for outdoor dining that simultaneously provide flexibility for business owners to use the public right-of-way while contributing to the enjoyment of the public space, and increasing opportunities for more enjoyable pedestrian travel.
“This package includes regulations and design standards to allow for the activation of the public right of way in a manner that ensures public health and safety, and improves upon the existing conditions we see today.”
The premise was generally well received by the CPC, but the timeline for feedback was deemed too short. Most at the meeting were hearing about it for the first time. Public outreach, they were told, was done in June. (But not apparently to the city’s neighborhood planning boards.)
A public hearing process was conducted in July and August, Planning Department representatives said, and the City Council would be asked to approve the program in fall. In fact, the city Planning Commission was to be presented with the program as soon as Sept. 9.
Community Planners Committee members voted unanimously to ask the Planning Department to slow its gallop to a trot, suspecting they would be ignored.
— Ellen Bevier is a member of the College Area Community Planning Board and the College Area Community Council.