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Monday, July 28, 2008| Transformation or justification? That’s my question. Is labeling University Towne Center an “urban infill revitalization” project an accurate depiction of UTC? How about a community neighborhood shopping mall in need of a facelift? That is much closer to reality.

How interesting that Mayor Sanders announces today that there is a “water emergency” in San Diego while Stephen Kapp’s commentary spews the newest rhetoric/sales pitch to push through the City system unacceptable levels of density and traffic onto neighborhoods.

His remedy is “green” and “sustainable” development, and LEED is the panacea for justifying overdevelopment beyond community plans. Everyone agrees conservation is necessary in this day and age, this is a given, nothing new or groundbreaking there. Kapp touts how the Planning Commission overwhelmingly approved the UTC Westfield expansion but conveniently excluded the voice of the local planning group in his careful consideration.

I’ve been reviewing this proposed project for many, many years and find it fascinating that not one of the community’s suggestions shows up in any Westfield proposal even though Mr. Kapp states, “Westfield has been working with the community.” Really, which community is that? The business community or resident community?

And that is the real issue, isn’t it? Business interests versus residential interests. I grow tired of the fact that neighborhood planning groups are given lip service all the way to City Council. Until the 44 planning groups in San Diego are all given real power within the system, nothing will change and our neighborhoods will continue to be developed with “infill” projects that “economically benefit” the “region” and not our neighborhoods.

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