Consensus Reached on Mission Hills Land Use Recommendations for Community Plan Update

| May 31, 2013 | 1 Comment


The Mission Hills land use recommendations will help protect the character and scale of our community.

The Mission Hills land use recommendations will help protect the character and scale of our community.

By Barry E. Hager

With votes of their governing boards, Mission Hills Heritage (MHH) and the Mission Hills Town Council (MHTC) have reached complete consensus on land use recommendations for the Uptown community plan update. Uptown Planners, the official planning advisory board to the City for the Uptown community, then voted to support the recommendations at its April 2013 meeting.

MHH first unveiled its land use recommendations during a public meeting in the summer of 2010. The primary goal of the recommendations was to preserve the historic scale and community character of the neighborhood, recognizing that Mission Hills is a mature, built-out, mostly single-family neighborhood of homes built in vintage architectural styles that cannot be replaced. The underlying problem is that many blocks of single family homes in Mission Hills are currently zoned for multi-family housing under the outdated 1988 community plan; also the commercial and mixed use areas of Mission Hills (centered on Goldfinch and Washington) can be built to heights and densities that are out of scale with the community. However, there is a growing public awareness within Mission Hills of the importance of preserving the community character and historic resources of the neighborhood.

With this in mind, MHH created and distributed recommendations for changes in the land use designations and zoning that would preserve several blocks of single family homes currently zoned “multi-family” and lower the potential densities near and in the commercial zones and Reynard Way so the bulk and scale of any new development would not overwhelm existing community character. Early drafts of land use maps released by the City’s planning department incorporated most of these recommendations.

Beginning last year the MHTC board of trustees decided to weigh in on the community plan update and studied the existing community plan. The MHTC adopted several guiding principles in constructing its recommendations. They were: (1) Ensure that the quality, ambience, and character of Mission Hills is enhanced through the community plan update; (2) Protect the historic nature of Mission Hills Development where appropriate; (3) Support land use changes that increase options for pedestrian and transit activity and encourage community interaction; (4) Encourage re-development that enhances the viability and sustainability of commercial neighborhood serving businesses where appropriate; and (5) Encourage diversity in the population of Mission Hills in terms of culture, income, and age by providing a variety of housing choice and cost.

Board members of both groups worked closely together to craft a consensus on recommendations. Recognizing that a compromise was possible, both groups adjusted their recommendations to coincide. Both groups now recommend preserving the single family areas, while allowing for reasonable new development in the commercial core areas and along Reynard Way. Both groups will also push for a new community park on Reynard Way around the Magic Rug Cleaners building. (Please see the map that accompanies this article for the final MHH recommendations.)

Many Mission Hills residents and members of both groups attended recent meetings of the MHTC trustees and Uptown Planners to have their voices heard. Particularly influential were the opinions of many residents of South Mission Hills between University Avenue and Pennsylvania and between Eagle and Hawk, known as “Area 8” on the MHH planning map. The result of this consensus is a strong, unified set of recommendations that carries the weight of many voices and the support of majority of the community.

There are still many hurdles to clear before these recommendations come to fruition in the new community plan. A battle is brewing that will play out during the final approval of the community plan at City Council, as many promoters of development will be pushing for high density in all older neighborhoods of San Diego. But with a unified voice, Missions Hills residents can preserve our historic neighborhood while accommodating reasonable new development.

We wish to thank the community for supporting these recommendations and urge everyone to remind our elected officials how important these changes are to our neighborhood.

Barry Hager is a board member of Mission Hills Heritage and has lived with his family in Mission Hills for fifteen years.

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