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The tug-of-war over University Heights and whether it should land in the community planning area of Uptown or Greater North Park is ratcheting up, this time in the comments section of Andrew Keatts’ latest story.

“If University Heights’ residents’ desire for decreased density does influence the new community plans, (Mayor Bob) Filner will once again face the tension between two of his stated priorities: creating a sustainable urban area with viable transit opportunities, and supporting the wishes of neighborhoods,” Keatts wrote this week.

Here are a few comments:

David Hall:

I have owned the same property for nearly sixty years and I’ve watched increased density in my neighborhood come with increased crime, crowded streets and the city’s general inability to keep up the infrastructure to support the increased population. Many of us aren’t really interested in reducing density, as nice as that would be, because we understand the reality of the politics.

Omar Passons responded to Hall:

The primary difference between someone living in affordable housing and not isn’t a propensity for crime; it’s a few less zeroes in their paycheck. I’m not an affordable housing advocate, as such, but I believe in people having an opportunity to advance, which is easier to do in a safe and secure home. Everyone isn’t guaranteed the same size house, nor should they be, but I think we want people to have a fighting chance to make the most out of life. Having a house you can live in peacefully helps. I am a YIMBY, when it comes to my community. And I’m not alone. Yes, build Permanent Supportive Housing in my backyard. Yes, build more dense apartments that help bring costs down and create more business opportunity and activate transit corridors by making it easier for people to be outside in my backyard. Yes, make El Cajon Boulevard a place more people want to be and not a place to get through when you don’t feel like using the very nearby Interstate. And do it in my back yard. There are people in North Park doing pretty well and people in North Park just making it. This economic diversity is part of the reason I moved to the community almost 10 years ago when we moved back home.

Paul Jamason weighed in:

David, where is future growth supposed to go in San Diego without increased density? We’ve already sprawled out to the border, Camp Pendleton and the mountains. Are you advocating a no-growth approach?

Downtown/uptown/adjacent neighborhoods make the most sense for increased density given their current/potential levels of services and public transit. Let’s fix the “city’s general inability to keep up the infrastructure” rather than closing the door behind us, as you suggest. What if someone had done that to you 60 years ago when you wanted to move in?

Hall replied:

Perhaps “sustainable” doesn’t mean unlimited density increases. There is only so much carrying capacity in this area. Livable space, water, sewer, fresh air, roads, services? Expect the city to all of a sudden fix its infrastructure deficit? Sorry, that train has left. Maybe, just maybe, San Diego is better off in the long term with a larger mix of people making enough money to support themselves without government assistance and less people overall. Maybe the right thing to do is work toward better wages and industry that pays well, instead of continuing to enable companies that pay minimum wage and little to no benefits. If hotels (just to choose one) had to pay more to get help, they would. Instead we subsidize their workers with affordable housing, government food, and free healthcare (via the emergency room that we all end up paying for).

What kind of density would you like to see in this part of town? How about in your neighborhood? Understand a little more about where city planning could be going by checking out this Q-and-A with the city’s new planning director, Bill Fulton.

Comment excerpts have been lightly edited for style, grammar and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

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Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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