The Clairemont Community Plan Update Goes Digital

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Clairemont Online Community Engagement Tool

The City wants your input on 5000 new potential housing units before March 13th with their new online tool

Since late 2016 early 2017 twenty (20) community meetings were held around Clairemont and Bay Park with regards to the Clairemont Community Plan Update (CCPU).  Four Members of the Clairemont Community Planning Group as well as 3 members of the public made up the CCPU committee.  Over the course of the meetings topics such as Urban Design, Open Space, Mobility, Existing Conditions and much more were discussed.  There was a great deal of information presented, discussed and debated.

It is important to keep in mind all these meetings were and are about Future Planning.

If you are interested in the future of the neighborhood, I would urge everyone to visit www.ClairemontPlan.org.  Clicking on the tabs at the top labeled ABOUT, DOCUMENTS and NEWS here you can read a great deal of information and scroll through meeting agendas, presentation slides as well as workshop slides and much more.  Will you be a totally informed and a wizard on planning after reviewing all this? No, but after clicking around you will at least be informed and up to date.

The CCPU meetings have a pretty set routine like many planning group meetings.  Public comment, verbal and/or slide presentations, comments/dialogue.  Workshops on the other hand held by the City are more interactive.  No real formal presentation, no rows of folding chairs, no agenda but rather easels set up with graphics, blank sheets of paper with city staff or consultants writing down comments and taking feedback/criticism.  Workshops are usually held in a 2 hour period folks show up talk, mingle, walk around to the different stations/easels listen, learn and ask.  I have been to workshops where yellow stickies are handed out or color coded dots to place on images and graphics depending upon feedback requested.  The workshops provide a lot of one on one talk with the staff, your neighbors, and strangers all in a room planning or at least discussing the future.  The goal being City staff is listening and hearing the people.

A Land Use workshop was scheduled, noticed and advertised for January 30th, 2019 but abruptly cancelled the day before.

Fast forward less than 2 weeks and roughly 75 people were in attendance at the February 12th CCPU meeting eager for answers on a reason to why.  City Planning staff explained and apologized for the cancellation and in no uncertain terms basically stated the Mayor’s State of the City Address held on January 15th was the reason for the cancellation.

When the Mayor during part of his speech proclaimed, he wanted to “radically overhaul the development system itself” by calling out the bureaucracy to delay housing, saying no to NIMBY’s, and obstructionists.  He then mentioned removing height limits, and a push for more housing especially along transit corridors.  After that speech, the Planning Department apparently decided a Clairemont Land Use workshop potentially trying to answer to a speech might not be a good idea (think #toosoon).  Keep in mind all the ideas Mr. Mayor proposed have to be presented to City Council for their blessing.

The cancelled Land Use workshop for Clairemont residents was the opportunity to discuss, in person, topics such as where exactly are the proposed land use changes? Where will new housing be proposed? How much new housing? Will height limits stay the same etc etc?  These were questions plus many more the committee as well as locals were looking to for answers.  The City came back with the answer and the answer is visit www.ClairemontPlan.org.

On Feb 12 the Planning Department introduced the new Online Community Engagement Tool (OCET) as a new modern option and a way to gather input about future land uses in Clairemont.  It should be noted staff did say a workshop would be rescheduled and this online tool is not taking the place of an in-person workshop (also note as of the upload date of this edition to the printer no date for a workshop had been scheduled).

Earlier I mentioned getting up to speed checking out the top tabs on the website to learn about the past couple years and now the city is asking you to click on the “Get Engaged” button.

The online tool is pretty interesting (although I would highly recommend “getting engaged” on a computer screen rather than say on your smartphone).  Also, plan to set aside some time to mouse around.

Some tips:

  • Before Clicking on “Click here to start” to Get Engaged scroll down below and take the time to review “Helpful Resources” the four presentations.  The slide presentations are quite useful, providing a little background before really diving in.  Again, there is a lot of information.  For savvy computer folks, it is manageable, for the hunters & peckers this online tool could lead to “getting enraged”.
  • Your back button or arrow does not work on this platform so think of the “Give Input” tab as a sort of back button.  (Once you click around you will see how).
  • This online tool will only be available until the end of the day on March 13.  The City provided 30 days as the timeframe for engagement.  (New technology, new platform more time might have been more ideal or coincide this with an actual workshop)
  • On 2/22 the City announced printed versions of the Online Community Engagement Tool, along with comment booklets are now available at the three branch libraries in the community: Clairemont, North Clairemont, and Balboa.  This format is being provided as another option to provide input.   Comment booklets can be submitted in the drop-off box at each library.  Please contact library staff for assistance and be sure to provide your input by the end of the day on Wednesday, March 13th, 2019.

What is the Online Community Engagement Tool?

Basically, the city is asking you to be a developer.  They want/need to build 5000 new housing units over the course of 30 years and are asking you where they should go.  But there are rules out of 8 areas (see below) you have to pick a minimum of 3 locations. 40% or 2000 of the new units need to be near the 3 Mid-Coast Trolley stops and you need to build 5000 units total.

Focus Areas:

  • Clairemont Town Square
  • Genesee Ave/Clairemont Mesa Blvd & Diane Center
  • Clairemont Mesa Blvd East
  • City of San Diego Rose Canyon Operations Yard & the Balboa Ave Station (near future trolley stop)
  • Balboa Ave/Clairemont Dr
  • Genesee Plaza/Balboa Mesa Commercial Center
  • Morena Blvd South of Clairemont Drive (near future trolley stop)
  • Morena Blvd/Tecolote Road (near future trolley stop)

So, for example, without officially submitting my tally I built the lowest density around the 3 area trolley stops and I only came up with 1876 units (leaving me short of the 2000 requested).  For the other 5 areas I also chose the lowest density and I only built 4896 units total (again short).  My thought was purely experimental to see what if I did this and my choices did not meet the objectives. The City of course is seeking constructive engagement and data.  This is not a one time deal you can go back and change your answers.

The tool is useful, but takes time, there is a lot of information within the information.  For each of the 8 areas listed above, there are sub neighborhoods within.  I would encourage folks to click around it will obviously make more sense once you are in the program.  Ideally you are only officially submitting your development once so there is ample room to explore and calculate.

What is there to like about OCET?

The online tool is useful to get a feel for ideas and areas of potential future growth.  Seeing the locations, the current zoning and potential new zoning, then visualizing what a particular property could be in x amount of years.  This is after all, future planning and looking forward.

What is there not to like about OCET?

People could submit their answers without fulfilling the suggested requirements.  People could also potentially stack a neighborhood.  There is also no real accountability, someone in LA or New Orleans or NY could submit their input, while it is good data is it pertinent?  OCET is a lot of info, a lot of planning terms and numbers and maps.  This is a change, some may not be able to visualize or want to see in the old neighborhood.  Is 30 days long enough to obtain valuable input?

My Random and final thoughts on OCET?

Keep in mind you could ask 10 people what they thought of the online engagement tool and you might get 10 different answers.  This is a nice tool, is it for everybody no way.  What I have found at the local community meetings is that you usually have the same dozen to two dozen folks who are actively involved (attending meetings).  These are big decisions being made and more people need to be involved, relying on this monthly rag, or a Nextdoor.com post, or a Facebook page might not be enough outreach for such big decisions, is it possible to mail something to every house yes would the City do it … doubtful.

Some meetings tend to have a heavy resistance to change theme and I think this online tool can be useful for the City.  People are online, all one has to do is scroll through Nextdoor.com where there is no lack of opinions.  Maybe the City realized, hey all these people are hip and, on the internet, already anyway let’s give them an online platform.

If we are planning for the future, maybe young folks should have a say.  Could it be possible to have Clairemont & Madison students be a separate category of data.  Of course, not all the students live in the area, but for those who do their voices as developers for 5000 units could be drastically different than say the 25, 30, or 40 year resident.

This is a new digital tool around for a couple more weeks hopefully folks will check it out.  Also, hopefully folks can make it out to a meeting.

The next scheduled Clairemont Community Plan Update Ad Hoc Committee meeting is scheduled for March 12th 6-8 pm Alcott Elementary 4680 Hidalgo Avenue.

For information, visit www.ClairemontPlan.org also

Facebook: Clairemont Community Planning Group

Twitter: ClairemontPG

https://www.sandiego.gov/planning/community/profiles

I will leave you with this, cranes and earth movers are not going to be rolling down Clairemont Mesa Blvd in the next 12 months, but keep in mind this is a future planning exercise.  If someone owns a nice piece of property and might be looking to cash out, chances are there is a developer waiting in the wings.  It takes at least two to tango.

Do you have any thoughts on the Online Community Engagement Tool?  If so, send me an Email: chris@clairemonttimes.com