Extension of Interim Height Ordinance

| October 30, 2013 | 0 Comments


The Interim Height Ordinance has help preserved the lower-scale character of Mission Hills pending the community plan update.

The Interim Height Ordinance has helped to preserve the lower-scale character of Mission Hills pending the community plan update.

Goes to City Council in November

by Barry E. Hager

The current 24-year old Uptown Community Plan and related zoning allow for building heights of up to 150 feet (the approximate height of Green Manor) in the commercial core of Mission Hills and up to 200 feet along parts of Washington Street, University Avenue and 4th, 5th and 6th Avenues in portions of Hillcrest and Bankers Hill/Park West.

Mission Hills is a lower-scale, historic community and there is a strong and growing consensus among Mission Hills residents that the allowable building height of 150 feet is a mistake, and that 50 feet is more appropriate for Mission Hills. The City is processing an update to the Uptown Community Plan and zoning that will address building heights, however, the update will not be complete until late 2015 at the earliest.

A temporary solution was reached in July 2008 when the City Council adopted the Interim Height Ordinance (IHO), which limits heights in the affected areas to 50 feet in Mission Hills and 65 feet in the remaining areas. Over 1,200 petition signatures were gathered at that time in support of these temporary height limits.

The IHO has helped protect the character of Mission Hills until the community plan update is complete. However, the current version of the IHO will expire this coming January, long before the community plan update is complete.

To avoid a lapse of the temporary height limits, the City is processing another extension of the IHO. The proposed extension is endorsed in Mission Hills by Mission Hills Heritage, the Mission Hills Town council and the Mission Hills Business Improvement District. In Hillcrest, the extension is endorsed by the Hillcrest Town Council.

Some opponents of the extension have falsely claimed that the IHO has acted as a moratorium on construction. However, several significant and well-received buildings, including the Mission Hills Vons, have been constructed during this time period. Opponents are also promoting a watered-down version of the ordinance which would include no mandatory height limit and only a discretionary review process for all buildings. This would only result in a project-by-project battle and still allow buildings to be constructed up to 150 or 200 feet.

The City Council will vote on the extension at a public hearing at 2 p.m., November 5, 2013. The hearing will take place at the City Council Chambers, 12th Floor, City Hall, 202 C Street, San Diego, CA 92101. Members of the public can either speak at the hearing or register their support of the extension without speaking. Attendance at this hearing will help demonstrate to the City Council how important extending the IHO is to our community.

Barry Hager is a co-founder and board member of Mission Hills Heritage

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