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The San Diego City Council on Monday discussed their goals for the redevelopment of the city’s downtown civic core, six blocks in and around City Hall.
Those blocks include the recently-acquired (and controversy-plagued) 101 Ash St. and Civic Center Plaza buildings plus crumbing City Hall and City Operations buildings. The city has projected those four buildings collectively need more than $260 million in repairs.
The state of the city’s shoddy assets helped inspire what city leaders and boosters hope will be a massive facelift to the city’s center.
The project is also quite possibly one of the city’s most challenging infrastructure and land-use projects yet. And on top of that, council members made it clear that homelessness and housing should be top priorities for how the city moves forward with the project.
The redevelopment must follow the state’s Surplus Land Act, which requires a minimum of 25 percent of the proposed housing to be affordable. That means the housing must be affordable to San Diegans making no more than 80 percent of the city’s area median income – or roughly $104,100 for a family of four.
Councilman Stephen Whitburn said during the meeting that shelter beds should be the No. 1 priority, adding that prioritizing homelessness would be the “make or break issue” for him.
“How are we going to get people off the streets if there’s nowhere for them to go?” Whitburn said. “This is our chance to fix that.”
Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert called for a new homeless service navigation center as part of the project. She was critical of the current facility — a shuttered indoor skydiving building turned homeless service hub.
But City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera said a navigation center wouldn’t be the best use of the land.
Mayor Todd Gloria created a Civic Center Revitalization Committee last month that will provide input to the council on how to redevelop the area. Their final recommendations are expected to be presented to the council at the end of the year.
Correction: This post has been update to correct the City Council meeting date. It was Monday.