Neighbors Rally in Mission Hills to Protest SB 10 Implementation

| May 26, 2023 | 0 Comments

San Diego, CA – A very concerned and vocal group of Mission Hills residents gathered at the intersection of Fort Stockton Drive and Randolph Street on Saturday, May 6, to protest the planned implementation of SB 10. The rally, which ran from 10:00 am to noon, was one of several such protests around the Uptown area attempting to bring attention to what residents say could seriously impact the livability of the affected neighborhoods. Participants spoke about their concerns, waved signs, and chanted to cars and pedestrians passing the Mission Hills Nursery sign at the intersection of Fort Stockton and Randolph Street. 

Mission Hills residents rally to protest planned implementation of SB 10.

Senate Bill (SB) 10, which was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsome in September 2021, provides cities with the ability to zone certain areas for denser developments of up to 10 units on a single parcel. This can be done in designated “transit-rich areas” or “urban infill sites” if the local legislative body passes a resolution to adopt the plan. San Diego is currently considering its Housing Action Package 2.0, which would include the implementation of SB 10. As currently written, the plan would reportedly waive impact and permit fees that normally go towards infrastructure, and doesn’t require any parking for residents. 

One of the speakers at the rally was Lisa Mortensen, a long-time resident and a veteran real estate agent with 47 years of experience. Asked what brought her to the rally she answered, “We are out here today because we’re the only city in this state that is voting on [implementing] SB 10, which is irreversible if passed by the CIty Council.” She went on to explain that, “we want all the council members to know that we are watching, and we say ‘no’ to SB 10, which basically lifts any remaining controls at all.”

Residents of all ages held signs and chanted to bring attention to the adverse effects of SB 10 on the neighborhood.

Marla Harrigan, who has lived in San Diego more than 50 years, praised the diversity of the neighborhood in which she has lived for the last 35 years and the mix of large and small homes. “People get along, and for [the City Council] to want to build five stories on one lot is wrong,” Harrigan told the crowd. “It’s ill-conceived, short-sighted, and mainly it’s irreversible. Once that’s done, our neighborhoods are done.”

Chuck Casavilla, a Mission Hills homeowner for 42 years, was equally effusive about his neighborhood, pointing out how walkable, friendly and livable it is. However, he fears that the implementation of SB 10 could result in more construction of multi-unit buildings that will adversely impact the area. The biggest problem, in his opinion, is the effect on infrastructure. “One of the things we complain about is [the Council is] not taking care of the current infrastructure needs of the city, like our streets,” Casavilla explained. “Meanwhile they allow developers to develop these highrises without any attention being paid to these infrastructure needs, or the ones that are going to come when they build an eight-story, fifty-unit highrise with no parking.”

It was not only long-time residents of Mission Hills who came out for the rally. Twelve-year-old Alana Rosengrant, who attended with her father and her friend Jade Borgerding, cheered and chanted along with the rest of the participants. Asked what her thoughts were about SB 10, she said, “We should stop the process of SB 10 because it could affect many people, and that they shouldn’t build highrises around because it ruins the vibe of the area.”

Alana Rosengrant (front) and Jade Borgerding were just two of the multi-age participants in the protest against SB 10.

Several participants voiced how their concerns seemed to fall on deaf ears at City Hall, in contrast to the wishes of big developers. They are not against development, per se, but what they are concerned about is development that does not take current residents and the “vibe” of a neighborhood into consideration. “Everybody has emailed and talked, and it’s ignored,” said Harrigan. “They are not listening, they have a focus on an agenda, and that’s all they can see.”

“I want to put a halt to the free pass the developers are getting to build without any attention to infrastructure or paying the fees that previously were paid for planning, etc.,” said Casavilla. “And to stop building without any attention to parking problems.”

As many see it, the City Council’s focus on higher density housing is actually making it less affordable, causing a net out-migration. “A lot of people are moving out,” real estate agent Mortensen pointed out. “With uncontrolled utility and water rates, people cannot budget their household expenses. We believe in housing; we do not believe the path they are taking at City Hall is the correct path.”

“I don’t know how we got on this track,” said Casavilla, “but it’s the wrong track and it needs to be corrected.”

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I am a long-time educator, writer and editor. I have taught English from middle school through community and technical college at public, private and charter institutions. Over the years I have also been a writer for sports and news organizations as well as a photojournalist. Currently I am the English Department Chair at a charter middle school and the writer/editor for a local media company.