That idea to allow six-story buildings near a new trolley station in Clairemont? Don’t worry about it.

San Diego planners have backed off a plan to raise the 30-foot limit on building height next to the future site of a trolley station at Clairemont Drive, just east of I-5, amid vocal opposition from residents.

In a memo Wednesday, Planning Director Bill Fulton told Mayor Kevin Faulconer and two City Council members his department would alter its plans for the area around the planned station, which is part of a $1.7 billion project to extend the trolley from Old Town to La Jolla.

The planning department won’t try to increase the limit on building height in that area, the memo said, will reconsider increasing density there and won’t reduce parking between Napier and Littlefield streets.

Residents lined up to oppose a city study meant to make the western portions of Clairemont and Linda Vista more compatible with public transit. By allowing more homes and businesses to be built near the stations, the trolley would be more useful and attract more riders. The study was in its early phases and wouldn’t have been subject to a final vote until late 2015 or early 2016.

But local opposition culminated last week when the city presented its study to the Clairemont Community Planning Group and 75 to 100 residents showed up to speak against it.

The area’s elected representatives also got in on the opposition.

Councilman Ed Harris, the interim representative for the area, attended the meeting and joined the chorus that said raising building heights and adding density to the area wasn’t necessary. Then he scheduled a follow-up community meeting for next week.

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, whose current district doesn’t include the study area but who is running for re-election in the district that does, had two representatives at the meeting, but neither spoke.

This week she wrote a memo to Fulton asking the planning department not to entertain any changes to height limits or parking in the area.

Sarah Boot, Zapf’s opponent, also opposed the plan at last week’s meeting.

Here’s Fulton’s memo announcing the department would step away from the contentious issues. It was first reported by Clairemont Central, a local blog.


Andrew Keatts is a former managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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