What is the status of the Crime Lab Site on Mt Etna Dr.?

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Meeting on 11/5 & a hard deadline to submit comments by 11/25

First, there is a meeting about the site with the Mt Etna CCPG Ad Hoc Sub Committee Meeting November 5th at Alcott Elementary.  The County and developer are scheduled to appear.  This is about the Community Plan Amendment (see below)

Second, an EIR report was released for public review last month (see below for more information) if you would like to comment you have until 11/25 to email your comments.

The property at 5255 Mt Etna Drive 92117 (near the major intersection of Genesee Ave and Balboa Ave).

Without getting deep in the weeds of technical terms about the entire process of how government works, and acronyms after acronyms how about we keep it simple.  There are people well versed in all the jargon and terms, however, it can become confusing…. rather quickly.  My approach KISC (KISC keep it simple Chris).

With that being said, if you would like to learn the entire nuts and bolts and read the official documentation and fancy terminology, I would refer you to www.5255MtEtnaDrive.com.  On that website you will find more than enough info and documentation to cure any insomnia, you may be experiencing including a 3,700+ page EIR (Environmental Impact Report) more on that below.

The former Clairemont Hospital, which then became the Sheriff Crime Lab property located at 5255 Mt Etna is now vacant and has been and still is owned by the County of San Diego.  The County, City and State citing a housing crisis is looking for opportunities, as are private developers, to build new housing.

In order for the crime lab property to be redeveloped to the proposed much needed housing a Community Plan Amendment (CPA) is required in order to rezone the property.  Rezone: change the use of the property from commercial to residential.

What if you lived in that area since say the 1960’s or 70’s or maybe recently a bought house in the half million dollar plus range.  The longtime residents probably heard sirens to and from the old hospital, and then the noise kind of quieted down when the property changed to a crime lab. Newer residents probably understood it was the “crime lab”, sheriff employees going to work doing CSI activities (CSI Clairemont).

For decades the parcel was active with workers with pretty routine schedules.  Pretty similar to the two high rise office buildings next door to the crime lab.  Again, workers and visitors arrive and leave the property on a fairly routine schedule.

The County is proposing housing.  The need for the CPA and rezone which would allow 297 units without an affordable housing (AH) density bonus.  With AH density bonus 404 units, the county wants to max out the number as much as possible so.  Demolish the site and build housing of different types for all ages roughly 70’ high.

On November 5th the County and the developer will be meeting with members of the public at an open meeting where all are invited at Alcott Elementary at 6pm this is to discuss the CPA but of course other topics will come up.  There is also potential for a follow up meeting at Alcott on November 19th 6pm although that is not a set-in stone guarantee confirmed meeting.

This is a big housing project more than likely coming to the community.  The hope is the County and the developer keep the lines of communication open to ALL of the public to participate in the process.  They said they would, so if you want to be involved, get involved.

Important PSA:

If you would like to know when ALL the local Clairemont Community Planning Group meetings take place and see the agendas and you have an email address I would urge you to send an email to: clairemontplanninggroup@gmail.com and ask to be added to the distribution list.

Ok, so you had a hospital, then a crime lab and now the potential for 400+ new housing units.

Some folks are concerned: this is a lot of traffic, this is a lot of new people, this is a big impact to the community, this is 400 + new faucets and toilets, this is a tall building plus more concerns. Why in Clairemont? Why not in La Jolla or Santee?  People are concerned and they have a right to be.

Some folks are excited this is new housing, this is needed affordable housing, this will help people out maybe get them back on their feet.  This project is in a great location buses nearby a future trolley line a bus ride away, stores and amenities all within walking distance.  People are excited because this is helping a housing problem in an ideal spot.

What is this EIR document? Long!  An Environmental Impact Report basically again (KISC) when a big project, like Mt Etna, in this case involves demo and construction there are impacts.  Think of a construction site there is noise, all sorts of noise, there is stuff flying around the air, maybe asbestos there is heavy equipment moving around, big trucks delivering building materials, traffic, etc. etc.  Think what is the impact this project will have on the site and immediate area around the site. Then what are the impacts of the project after it is complete?

A requirement for an EIR is there also has to be alternatives.  An alternative would be no project or redevelopment. Leave well enough alone.  Is the County going to let their asset just sit?  Another is no project no CPA or rezone. The property gets demolished leveled and is sold to a developer who could put in office space.  And finally, a Reduced Intensity Project, this project would bring the number of housing units down and meet objectives

To say this is a quick and dirty summary of the Mt Etna site and where things stand today would be a huge understatement.  This summary is painted with a very broad brush, some folks will read it and say you are missing point ABC 123.  Yes, I know, if anyone would like to write a better, more in-depth summary feel free send it to me, I will post on our website and give you a star!  This is a summary to get you up to speed.  For some this will be ok, I did not know that, well now you know.

Do you want to know more? Read the report, visit: www.5255MtEtnaDrive.com click around and keep reading.  Then show up on the 5th of November at Alcott, and show up again on the 19th, and keep showing up.

Email: chris@clairemonttimes.com