Commentary: Louis Rodolico
Should Costa Verde’s the new parking garage also serve as a conflagration shelter? What about the size of the project & traffic? The public is invited to comment on the Costa Verde Revitalization.
The Costa Verde Shopping Center (CVSC) is located on the northwest corner of Nobel and Genesee. The city recently released the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). You can find the DEIR at: sandiego.gov/ceqa/draft open the link and scroll down to (University) Costa Verde Revitalization.
The summary is on pdf page 33 in the DEIR. Abstract:
“The Project entails the reconfiguration and expansion of the existing Costa Verde Center to create a local, walkable hub that provides neighborhood services, retail shops, restaurants, office/research and development uses, a hotel, and community gathering spaces. The Project proposes to retain the current amount (approximately 178,000 SF) of commercial/retail uses, add approximately 360,000 SF of research and development and 40,000 SF of commercial/office uses, and re-designate an approximately one-acre portion of the project site as Visitor Commercial to reintroduce a hotel use to the CVSP area. A 200-room hotel would serve residents, visitors, and the community’s research, business, and educational hub. The hotel would be up to 10 stories in height and would encompass approximately 125,000 SF. The maximum building heights would be 45 feet for commercial/retail structures, and 135 feet for commercial/office/research and development and hotel uses”.
The DEIR contains four alternatives; 1)No Project Alternative; 2)The Retail, Hotel, and Residential Alternative; 3)The Retail, Hotel, Office, and Reduced Research and Development Alternative and; 4)The Retail and Office/Research and Development Alternative. These alternatives are shown on DEIR Table S-2 (pdf page 34). More detail in Chapter 8, Alternatives (pdf page 471).
Parking: The total project parking requirement is calculated at about 2,000 spaces. The trolley mass transit discount has been used as evident by Appendix B, PDF Page 210 Abstract: “The minimum required parking rates for the proposed project are based on the standards outlined in the City of San Diego Land Development Code…..given that the proposed Mid-Coast trolley line will front the project, the following “transit” minimum parking rates (attached in Appendix V) were used in this parking analysis”
The effects of the trolley will not be known for some time so the proposed parking garage may be inadequate. It is difficult to find a space sometimes in the Westfield lot. When the trolley on line commuters will want parking. Costa Verde may want to increase the size of their parking garage in order to secure permits for special events in the future and cover themselves in the event that their parking assumptions were low. This will be the last time for the foreseeable future that CV will be able to improve the site. If there is an overabundance of parking then building the garage as a flat plate will allow for other commercial uses.
Traffic: The DEIR shows time delays and increased traffic volume. When the project is completed the added traffic will bring up the widening of Genesee and or building all planned UC roads.
Dust & Noise: In San Diego dust and noise barriers are considered well after the EIR has been approved. This should change. Both dust and noise barriers should be clearly outlined in a separate appendix, along with details showing; barrier types, where they would be located and how they would be maintained.
Closing Streets and Sidewalks: At the DEIR phase design professionals usually allow a budget for utility tie-ins but have not hired the engineers necessary to tell them exactly what needs to be done.
During the midst of a hectic and complicated project like this any sub-contractor can go down to Development Services and pull a permit that allows them to close off a street or sidewalk. Development Services issues permits that can close off street lanes and sidewalks for several months. It is not uncommon for the builders to leave their barriers up during extended periods of inactivity. Municipalities that value minimizing disruption have a fixed cost for blocking off a sidewalk or street lane at say $2,000 and then a cost per square foot over time say 20 cents per square foot per day determined by the size of the blocked off area, with a minimum of say $1,000 per day. With this builders get in and out fast resulting in minimal disruption to the community. Every contractor will know this before they bid.
Parking Garage Serving as Conflagration Shelter: Genesee is the only main road that has been completed in South UC. Both Regents Road and the Governor to Gilman connector have not been built. This leaves UC South with no west exit and only one north exit at Genesee during a conflagration. Thousands from South UC and Clairemont will find themselves heading North on Genesee seeking refuge. The Costa Verde parking garage is a very durable structure and is a prime candidate to become a conflagration shelter. We should encourage Costa Verde to address this during the initial design of the garage. Things like built in in roll down doors and ventilation that will allow several thousand people to survive for 12 hours or so. There will be logistical issues like; do excess cars go in the garage and which neighborhoods are assigned to which structures during a conflagration. Police & MTS should have an online plan available.
We asked Costa Verde years ago to put in underground parking and the addition of technical office space has brought that to this project. Considerately, Costa Verde put its high rise buildings away from Vi and its neighbors to the south. Since Costa Verde has made these adjustments based on past interaction with the community I am hopeful they will modify their garage to serve as a Conflagration Shelter.
Comments must be received by May 26, 2020, to be considered by decision makers. Please send your written comments to: E. Shearer-Nguyen, Environmental Planner, City of San Diego Development Services Center, 1222 1st Avenue, MS 501, San Diego, CA 92101, or e-mail your comments to DSDEAS@sandiego.gov with the Project Name: Costa Verde Revitalization, and Number 477943 / SCH No. 2016071031 in the subject line.
Louis Rodolico has been a resident of University since 2001 louisrodolico.com
Universities Unfinished Roads; https://clairemonttimes.com/universities-unfinished-roads-and-missing-train-station/