Editor: This is the launch of what we hope is a regular report in the San Diego Free Press, via our online media partner, the OB Rag.
Somebody needs to be watching Mission Valley – the long congested corridor that is literally the heart of San Diego. And certainly, it’s not the City of San Diego that is watching Mission Valley – or rather watching out for it. And certainly, it’s not the major mainstream media in this town either that are watching Mission Valley – with one HUGE exception: the nearly-exclusive and obsessive focus on the Qualcomm Stadium site.
Yet Mission Valley certainly does need to be watched because the construction projects that are being built and are in the pipeline to being built in the next few years will quite double – or even triple – the current population of the Valley of 20,000 San Diegans. The projects will double the number of housing units that are already there.
The problem with this is that there isn’t even the public infrastructure now that is required to serve the thousands of current Mission Valley residents, much less the needs of (and this is a conservative estimate) a future populace that has undergone growth of one hundred percent. The projects planned and even approved will further destroy what remains of the once, lush green valley that in earlier days, held the promise of becoming the Central Park or the Golden Gate Park of San Diego.
Many San Diego residents consider Mission Valley to be a traffic nightmare, yet the bumper-to-bumper lines of cars only hide this deeper problem, the more substantial contradiction – the nearly-total lack of public infrastructure while thousands of new residential units are being constructed and planned.
While these small cities – the so-called “urban villages” – are being created in the midst of Mission Valley without adequate infrastructure needed for such cities, the developers are by and large getting off their collective hooks. And it will be the rest of San Diego that will be charged for the installation of the nuts and bolts of any public improvements.
We have been trying to shine a spotlight on what’s happening in Mission Valley for a number of months now, with a seminal statement in How to Destroy Mission Valley, followed by a look at Civita – the largest project in that destruction.
Here’s our earlier observation:
Clearly, sufficient infrastructure is woefully lacking right now; there’s not enough public services and facilities for the increases in population and housing that are being constructed and planned. Not only are there inefficiencies in terms of public resources within Civita, there aren’t enough for the entire community of Mission Valley, a very extended and elongated area.
There aren’t any public schools in Mission Valley, there’s only one library, one fire station under construction, no public recreation centers, and except for areas around the San Diego River and the Presidio, there’s no parks. Plus Civita has yet to have its own park, its trails, its Village Walk.
And went on to summarize:
With a potential near-doubling or even tripling of its population with the completion of Civita – and the other projects in the developers’ pipeline – , Mission Valley will definitely witness like increases in traffic and congestion, completing it burial as a decent community and city center.
In the final analysis, Civita is not an “urban village” – not even close. It is a city being built within our larger city of San Diego. It is a city being built without the necessary additional amenities that make it a public metro, that make it a city. The developers have plopped down their 7 and 8 story behemoths, their penthouses and “comfortable” living spaces without having being forced to actually install the very social mechanisms that make an urban environment a city, a community, a village.
Lack of Mainstream Media Focus on Big Picture
As we try to bring attention to Mission Valley by waving red flags, the mainstream media have pretty much ignored the overall totality of what’s going on in this elongated zone that stretches from Mission Bay nearly all the way to San Diego State University.
For starters, the U-T San Diego is compromised as a reporting entity as Papa Doug has his own plans to construct a luxury housing and a substantial commercial project near the entrance to Mission Valley, one of the most significant of the new developments coming in:
The current blue-prints call for a bulky and massive mid-rise residential structure with hundreds of residential units where the parking lot is now near the San Diego River. The residential structure steps down from 7 stories at the south end to 2 stories at the north end, with parking included on the first two levels.
The development for the near 13 acre site also includes 243,700 square feet of office space, 5,000 for restaurants, and nearly 6,800 for retail. The current plan also includes a whopping eight-tenths of an acre for a park along the river.
Television media in this town also ignore the big picture as its reporting tends to focus on the daily minutia of aspects of Mission Valley, a car crash, a raid on a homeless encampment, fires in the riverbed, this or that hotel being sold. The larger picture – the really “wide lens” – what is actually happening in overall scope – is missed by those seeking sound bites and newsy camera frames.
Which leaves it to the smaller press, the smaller newspapers and magazines and the online media like the OB Rag and San Diego Free Press, to watch Mission Valley.
Fortunately, our progressive conglomerate of red-flag wavers was recently joined last month by what we hope is only an opening salvo by Voice of San Diego, where editor Scott Lewis agreed with us by taking up the warning that Mission Valley is about to undergo a “massive growth spurt” – something that the City and its planners are not ready for. We give the Voice props for its focus on the roads, traffic dangers and freeways.
Lewis counts only 6 projects whereas we count 8 – but does make the crucial point in this summary:
Mission Valley might be able to fit thousands of new homes, but without major infrastructure improvements, a redesign of the many of the portals in and out of the neighborhood and new amenities, it could make an already troubled place a chaotic mess.
We welcome the Voice to this fray – to the watch of Mission Valley – and hope that it uses its influence to ensure that the developers do indeed install their public infrastructure promises, and that even more of what’s needed for a true human environment is brought in.
The Qualcomm Stadium Exception
Stepping back, it’s clear that what really has changed the discussion around Mission Valley in the media since we began our little campaign last Fall, is the Qualcomm exception – the very focused attention that the Qualcomm Stadium site and its 166 acres provides. And the future development of the site is obviously in the context of all the hubbub surrounding the future location of San Diego’s football stadium and the future of the Chargers.
What also is clear is that all this talk about Qualcomm is bringing more pressure on Mission Valley as a zone for commercial and residential mixed-use development.
In fact Mary Lydon, a member of the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group and executive director of the Urban Land Institute wants us to have a wide lens on the Valley. She told Lewis-
“I know we are focused on the site selection and on the financing of a new stadium. It seemed to me that we should look at the bigger area.”
City Councilman Scott Sherman – who represents Mission Valley – has entered the discussion with his proposals for another 6,000 housing units at Qualcomm and environs, plus commercial development, another “urban village” with development of the “riverfront”. This is all part of a new wave of construction pressure. And new PR. Why, we’re even told, ‘relax, Mission Valley can handle all that development‘ .
More News About Mission Valley…
In other news about Mission Valley we have learned more about …
Dozens Move In to Affordable Housing
There is some good news. In late March, 74 people moved into a new mixed-use housing designed specifically for low-income seniors in Civita. According to KPBS:
The apartment complex includes a total of 150 units, which meets the city’s regulations requiring developers to dedicate 10 percent of new units to affordable housing. … About 1,000 seniors are currently on the wait list for the Civita apartment complex where rent is as low as $400.
Yes, it’s true, another project heading for Mission Valley is the 18 acre project by Morris Cerullo, the controversial televangelist. Cerullo is planning an International Centre Legacy Village, filled with time-shares, 5-star restaurant, therapeutic jacuzzi, health spa and flower-filled prayer gardens.
The project is scheduled to be completed by mid-2017, although this is dependent on the San Diego City Council reviewing the construction plans. According to LGBT Weekly:
Cerullo has proven to be a controversial figure and is not a supporter of LGBT equality. Cerullo’s Web site openly supports Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore in his defiance of the Supreme Court over gay marriage. Cerullo’s “Prayer Targets” include, “God’s intervention in preserving Christian liberties in our nation.” This is in support of pastors who turn away same-sex couples who want to marry.
We’ll continue our watch on Mission Valley. If you’re interested in finding out more about our small research group or you have some of your own observations, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .