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The PR battle has begun along with the release of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a massive expansion of the Golden Triangle’s University Towne Centre (750,000 square feet retail and 250 housing units)

Called the “UTC Experience,” people are invited to interact with Westfield’s “revitalization” for a “new UTC.”

Given they are promoting this expansion “with the environment in mind.”

And as an example of “sustainable design,” the Experience is going to have to include a lot more than a transit station. Their website is long on design (sluggish as well 🙁 ) and short on specifics. They have a short list of green features

But what level of LEED (Green Building) certification are they committed to?

Is this greenwashing for this one project to help get approval or the real deal in how Westfield will manage all its San Diego shopping centers (Horton Plaza, Mission Valley, Plaza Bonita, Plaza Camino Real)?

I’d like to see them weigh in on the mayor’s recycling proposal where the city is currently not going to require any recycling in shopping mall public areas, or in places like Sea World. Westfield’s website says they are going to recycle “everyday waste generated by the shopping center.” So let’s see their leadership on these issues downtown. You can’t say you’re going to do sustainable development and not address all the issues involved.

To tour some of the state-of-the-art in green buildings in the San Diego area, take the GreenBuilt Tour on September 29 and/or 30th. Different sites are open each day. Tickets are $12 before September 15 and $15 after. Purchase online or via mail.

Friends of Rose Canyon vs. Regents Road bridge

The city withdrew their $3 million EIR after it was challenged in a lawsuit by Friends of Rose Canyon and ignoring plenty of testimony telling them this would happen. But the Project Manager got promoted and the city bumbles along at expensive rates estimating another $1 million will be required to fix the failed EIR. Now there’s another letter from the Friends law firm informing the city that their latest proposal to move ahead and spend another $4.8 million on project engineering (with the same firm who was paid $1.8 million for their share of the failed EIR) is also illegal. It seems they need to have a legal EIR before they can begin implementation of the project. This is ITEM 334 on Tuesday’s Council docket.

The EIR for the Regional Transportation Plan is also out for public comment.

Not a lot of good news here: invest $54 billion and traffic gets worse in most places.

Too bad the Regional Transportation Plan doesn’t solve the problems in the Golden Triangle. The proposed mid-coast light rail trolley’s new possible completion date is in 2014 while Westfield is claiming they can finish their project in 2012. A recent call to the Federal Transit Administration confirmed that the Light Rail project as currently being planned will not likely perform well enough for the required federal funding. Where’s the back-up plan?

Where’s the comprehensive update to the University Community Plan’s Circulation and Transportation Element? With billions of dollars of potential new real estate wanting to go into the Golden Triangle, you’d think this would be higher on the city’s — and SANDAG’s — priority list.

Council President Scott Peters and Bill Anderson (city planning, economic development and development services) how about a real process to solve all these problems?

— CAROLYN CHASE

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