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Logan Heights might get a shot to push itself toward a more transit-friendly future after all.
The community planning group that represents the Logan Heights, Sherman Heights, Grant Hill and Memorial neighborhoods voted this week to support new development restrictions for the Commercial street trolley corridor.
Under the new plan, the area near the trolley station at 32nd Street and Commercial – currently home to heavy industrial activities like metal scrapping, recycling and auto-wrecking – would have its zoning changed so new developments could include dense housing and retail or office spaces.
“I can say at this point that the city would like to focus on a creating a village-type development, and they’d like to create that along the transit corridor,” said Tom Fuller, chair of the Southeastern San Diego Planning Group.
That wasn’t always the case, and the city still might not approve the planning group’s vision.
The new community plan – a long-term outline for new development in the area – produced by the city’s planning department proposed two options. The city’s preferred option was to maintain the industrial area east of 28th Street. The other would turn it into a transit-friendly neighborhood similar to the one near 25th Street that includes the new low-income housing project Comm22.
Since city staff studied both scenarios, they are both on the table for the City Council when it votes on the plan, scheduled to happen next month.
Councilman David Alvarez had previously said he hoped the Council would support transitioning the blighted stretch of Commercial Street east of 28th Street – which isn’t home to many jobs, given the nature of the businesses that operate there – in a new direction.
A spokesman said Alvarez was pleased the planning group endorsed the same vision, which would allow around 600 new homes to be built near the station that’s just two stops away from downtown on the trolley’s Orange Line.
More than a year ago, the planning group voted instead to maintain the stretch as an industrial area.
Industrial property owners in the area had resisted the change, thinking it threatened their businesses.
But those property owners didn’t show up at the planning group this week. They had previously been pressuring city staff and Alvarez’s office as well, but Alvarez’s deputy chief of staff Lisa Schmidt said they haven’t contacted the office recently.
Fuller said those property owners seem to have recognized that a change in long-term development restrictions wouldn’t necessarily force the businesses to relocate. All property owners would have the previous uses of their property grandfathered into the new plan; changes wouldn’t take effect until a property sat vacant for two years, but each owner would have the option of pursuing other development opportunities in the meantime.
“The great thing about it is, the property owners have the option,” Fuller said. “They can do what they had been doing, or talk to developers.”