Costa Verde Shopping Center Revitalization

Commentary: Louis Rodolico

The Coats Verde Shopping Center is located on the northwest corner of Nobel and Genesee. The city recently released the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR).  This project is subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and is currently available for public comment until April 27, 2020.

The DEIR is 518 pages. There are a dozen appendices which add another 2,000 pages. 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).

On a previously version of the project, the primary concerns expressed by the Planning Sub-Committee and the public included; traffic, parking, safety of pedestrian access, construction dust and operational noise, visual resources, community character, air quality and inclusion of a hotel.

Traffic: Engineers report in Alternatives-Traffic Analysis, Appendix I. It is very technical and if you live in the area the report validates all the traffic hot spots. Like all engineering reports in the past it does not show how the addition of the Regents Road Bridge would improve traffic and ambulance service times. There is also no mention of improving the Costa Verde Blvd & Las Palmas Square intersection which has been flagged by residents as dangerous. Las Palmas Square and the exit to the shopping center are too close, there have been many accidents. Both of these streets should be combined into one common controlled approach to Costa Verde Blvd.

Parking: proximity to the Blue Line Trolley qualifies this project for reduced parking. Permit parking and meters will likely surround the site. Costa Verde parking will be validated. There will also be pay-for parking across Genesee at the Westfield Mall. There should be much more underground parking, of flat plate construction, which can be converted into commercial space, in the event we ween ourselves off of owning cars.

Pedestrian Safety: we have asked that construction does not impinge on existing roads and sidewalks. These considerations do not appear in this DEIR.  With past projects these considerations are addressed during the final permitting stage, where there is no community advocate. Construction impingements harm the community. Builder compliance needs actual oversight.

Dust, Noise, Air Quality: Lowest bid wins, controls on these items are often trimmed from construction budgets. Violations are fleeting but can have long term consequences. The only option for residents is to pay for ongoing expensive technical monitoring to identify violations. That just doesn’t happen. These items should be clearly addressed with; actual government oversight, fines and apologies delivered directly to residents.

The Planning Sub-Committee did not want to remove existing services like the Car Wash and McDonalds.  Not everyone on the Committee agreed with a new Hotel. The Hotel alternate is noted as up to 10 stories but the rendering shows 6 stories, pdf page 104. Operationally, we have consistently heard that 200 rooms is a minimum in order for a hotel to see a profit.

If this project goes forward the added traffic will likely bring up widening Genesee to 6 lanes. Westfield’s lobbyists want all traffic funneled up Genesee to Westfield’s stores and pay-for parking garage. Lobbyists will press fire officials to testify in favor of 6 lanes, dangling their pensions, which were taken away in 2012, after fire officials testified to build the Regents Road Bridge in 2006. After losing their pensions Fire officials learned their lesson and in 2016 did not testify at city council about public safety and the Regents Road Bridge. Like the rest of us fire officials have seen how lobbyists dominate San Diego Government and the Media; also lobbyists are practiced at managing law enforcement and the judiciary.

The Costa Verde Revitalization is likely going to be another large project with mixed community support. Unfortunately; clarification on some items are not possible due to the coronavirus outbreak. Listed contact: E. Shearer-Nguyen (619) 446-5369

The public is invited to comment on the Costa Verde Revitalization. Comments must be received by April 27, 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

Additional DEIR pdf page locations:

Project Site Plan: pdf 74

Conceptual Site Plan: pdf 90, rotated 90 degrees from the site plan.

Landscape Plan: pdf 108

Previous Costa Verde Article, page 11:  https://issuu.com/theclairemonttimes/docs/clairemont_times_march_2018

2016 Regents Road Bridge Council Hearing    http://granicus.sandiego.gov/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=6835

Universities Unfinished Roads;   https://clairemonttimes.com/universities-unfinished-roads-and-missing-train-station/