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The city is going through a historical process of changing its land development and entitlements processes. Amongst the major policy packages in the mix are:

  • Elimination of Planned Districts:
    There are 19 Planned District Ordinances that cover about a third of the communities in San Diego. These ordinances provide a layer of regulatory requirements and oversight on new development tailored to the needs of specific communities. The mayor proposes to fold these ordinances into a citywide zoning ordinance, minimizing input from community planning groups.
  • Clustered Community Plan Updates:
    There are 52 communities spanning the entire city. Community plans are the charters for zoning, entitlements and development approval processes. This year, the controversial Otay Mesa Community plan is expected to be adopted, and several plans in the older neighborhoods are expected to be initiated, based on a template that creates process certainty for developers.
  • General Plan Adoption:
    In June, the General Plan will be adopted. This plan will implement the City of Villages strategy and will create a menu of zones, allow collocation of industrial and residential uses and re-interpret “open space.”
  • 6th Update to the Land Development Code:
    This is an update to the law that regulates development. Staff intends to simplify the development approval process in order to increase predictability of approval when developers apply for permits. The scope of this update includes environmental appeals, landscape regulations, mixed use regulations, accessory structures, height, setbacks, parking, signs and uses.
  • Land Disposal Policy:
    The mayor proposes to raise $100 million from disposal of public land, with an aim to sell 34 properties this year. At the same time, real estate consultants are recommending that once disposal parameters (e.g. sale price) for a portfolio of properties has been established, public input at the time of sale of public property should be eliminated. The intent is to allow the mayor to negotiate confidential deals.
  • Redevelopment Restructuring:

California law only recognizes the legislative body (City Council), leaving our “Strong Mayor” in a redevelopment limbo. Last year, the council approved a temporary patch ordinance, appointing the mayor as the director of the Redevelopment Agency. This year, there are proposals to create an independent public agency, with a separate board, and its own staff.

  • Housing Day policies:
    On March 27, there are expected to be a menu of policies to address the State of Housing Emergency that was originally declared in June 2003. These policies could potentially cover a wide range of topics, including grant-funding new housing projects, identifying development sites for mixed-income housing, tinkering with parking requirements and inclusionary housing, and restructuring fees on commercial development.

Each of the above seven policy packages are technically complex and would befuddle even an experienced planner. It is understandable that communities are confused, and possibly worried.

MURTAZA BAXAMUSA

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