By JEFF CLEMETSON | Mission Times Courier
A plan to build housing at the Granville Trolley Station has cleared a hurdle, which has given local property owners both hope and caution about a long-term solution to the area’s flood problem.
On June 13, the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) board of directors approved a new development at the agency’s Grantville Trolley Station to build 156 affordable units and 254 market-rate, student-oriented units. Two developers will be teaming up on the project – Affirmed Housing will build the affordable units and Greystar will build the market-rate units.
“This is a great example about how MTS can help address our region’s affordable-housing problems and climate-action goals,” said Paul Jablonski, MTS chief executive officer in a press release. “MTS is committed to cultivating partnerships to redevelop our top-tier park-and-ride locations into transit-oriented developments.”
In addition to the housing units, the partnership between MTS and the developers would also bring 96 replacement parking spaces for MTS commuters.
What neighboring property owners are hoping is that the development will also create a partnership that will finally implement the Alvarado Creek Revitalization Study — a plan drafted in 2017 to end the persistent flooding of properties along Alvarado Creek. With the new development now approved by the MTS board, there is some hope that an agreement on Alvarado Creek might come to fruition.
When MTS approved the new Grantville development, they also agreed to eventually sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on dealing with its section of the Alvarado Creek study. MTS is the majority property owner in the study area.
Navajo Community Planners board chair David Smith said he hopes the MOU will be an agreement to fully implement the Alvarado Creek study plan and will spell out all the terms, positions, penalties, time statutes and costs that MTS will be bound by.
“That, of course, is the big ask,” he added. “What exactly will get signed by MTS staff and city attorneys is still yet to be determined.
“Unfortunately, those who will be signing this document will be behind closed doors,” Smith continued. “It will be between the City Attorney’s Office, the [City] Council member’s office which will be the voice of the community, MTS staff and the city of San Diego Transportation and Stormwater Department.”
There will be multiple meetings and plenty of negotiations between the various departments and landowners before the MOU is finalized and the final agreement goes before MTS board to be voted on. Smith, whose family owns property along the creek that is affected by the flooding, said the behind-doors negotiation needs “as much attention as it can get.”
“It’s going to be upon us as community members, and anybody else who is interested in this topic, to continue to go and speak at MTS board meetings, to remind them that they should not settle for anything unless it is the full solution fix.”
Smith described the MOU as both helpful and dangerous for property owners along the creek and others interested in seeing Grantville transform into a broader transit-oriented community.
“People need to know that once this document is signed, that is what they are bound by,” he said. “And if MTS wants to be this regional public agency for transit that stands for reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased ridership, and then they decide to lobby their way around having to doing anything in an expeditious fashion, then MTS needs to be bashed as the agency that killed Grantville’s hopes to be the urban housing redevelopment, transit-oriented node that the community has been wanting for 15 years. Because if MTS does nothing, nobody on the other side of the creek can build.”
— Reach Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.