The Uptown Community Plan serves as a blueprint for development in our community. It was last updated in 1988 and is several years overdue for update.
Mission Hills is a mature, built-out, mostly single-family neighborhood of homes built in vintage architectural styles that cannot be replaced. Underlying problems with the 1988 Uptown Community Plan include that many blocks of single family homes in Mission Hills are currently zoned for multi-family housing which encourages demolition of these homes in favor of apartments and condos; also the commercial and mixed use areas of Mission Hills (centered on Goldfinch and Washington) can be built to heights and densities that are out of scale with the community. However, there is a growing public awareness within Mission Hills of the importance of preserving the community character and historic resources of the neighborhood.
In July 2008, the City Planning Department first announced that the update of the Uptown Community Plan would begin that fall. However, the official kick-off meeting did not begin until January 28, 2009. At that time, the procedures for the update were first announced, including the formation of a stakeholders’ advisory committee and a process including public meetings, workshops and charettes. (A charrette is an open and interactive meeting format where the public works with the team of City staff and consultants to develop concepts for the Update.) After delays in hiring consultants and forming the stakeholders committee, the first meeting of the advisory committee took place in October 2009. From that point, the process has moved forward slowly.
Mission Hills Heritage continues to represent the interests of Mission Hills, as well as Uptown in general, in the City of San Diego’s Uptown Community Plan Update process. The City posts information on this process at:
Recent Developments—April/May 2013
Consensus Reached on Mission Hills Land Use Recommendations for Community Plan Update.
With votes of their governing boards, Mission Hills Heritage (MHH) and the Mission Hills Town Council (MHTC) have reached complete consensus on land use recommendations for the Uptown community plan update. Uptown Planners, the official planning advisory board to the City for the Uptown community, then voted to support the recommendations at its April 2013 meeting.
MHH first unveiled its land use recommendations during a public meeting in the summer of 2010. The primary goal of MHH’s recommendations has been to preserve the historic scale and community character of the neighborhood. MHH’s recommendations included changes in the land use designations and zoning that would preserve those blocks of single family homes currently zoned “multi-family” and lower the potential densities near and in the commercial zones and Reynard Way so the bulk and scale of any new development would not overwhelm existing community character. Early drafts of land use maps released by the City’s planning department incorporated most of these recommendations. In 2012, the MHTC board of trustees decided to weigh in on the community plan update and studied the existing community plan.
Board members of both groups worked closely together to craft a consensus on recommendations. Recognizing that a compromise was possible, both groups adjusted their recommendations to coincide. Both groups now recommend preserving the single family areas, while allowing for reasonable new development in the commercial core areas and along Reynard Way. Both groups will also push for a new community park on Reynard Way around the Magic Rug Cleaners building. (Please see the map that accompanies this article for the final MHH recommendations.)
Many Mission Hills residents and members of both groups attended recent meetings of the MHTC trustees and Uptown Planners to have their voices heard. Particularly influential were the opinions of many residents of South Mission Hills between University Avenue and Pennsylvania and between Eagle and Hawk, known as “Area 8” on the MHH planning map. The result of this consensus is a strong, unified set of recommendations that carries the weight of many voices and the support of majority of the community.
There are still many hurdles to clear before these recommendations come to fruition in the new community plan. A battle is brewing that will play out during the final approval of the community plan at City Council, as many promoters of development will be pushing for high density in all older neighborhoods of San Diego. But with a unified voice, Missions Hills residents can preserve our historic neighborhood while accommodating reasonable new development.
Recent Developments—June 2012
City staff is supporting the majority of our recommendations for land use and residential densities in Mission Hills!
Development Services staff unveiled a draft of the “Planned Land Use Map” for the Uptown Community Plan Update at the June 5, 2012 Uptown Planners meeting. The map includes the land use designations and residential density ranges for Mission Hills and all of Uptown that the City proposes for the new Uptown Community Plan. Staff also presented a comparison chart of the land use designations and densities recommended by Mission Hills Heritage and those supported by City staff. (See documents below)
Staff is supporting most of our recommendations, including density decreases that would preserve many existing blocks of single family homes in Mission Hills. A major exception is that staff is not supporting our proposed density decrease in the “CN2A” commercial area along Washington Street, but they are supporting our density recommendations in all other areas. Staff attached our MHH recommendation map to their package to help illustrate the recommendations. There is a still a long way to go before our recommendations are approved by City Council as part of the plan update, but this is a major step forward for our plans to preserve the character of Mission Hills.
Please note that the Planned Land Use Map does not include building heights, which will be addressed later. Also, the recommendations for University Heights were incomplete, so another map will be presented soon. Uptown Planners will hold a special meeting on July 17th to discuss the Planned Land Use Map. Below are the City’s existing and DRAFT land use maps, the comparison chart and a land use designation conversion chart:
In March 2012 Mission Hills Heritage participated in the City’s two public meetings as City staff began to evaluate the concepts that had been generated in the public charrettes and Community Plan Update Advisory Committee meetings.
The first meeting, March 19, was a Historic Resources Survey and Conservation Areas Open House to communicate the City staff’s analyses and responses to recommendations related to historic preservation. This included many of the recommendations that Mission Hills Heritage presented at the August 5 Community meeting and gathered hundreds of residents’ signatures to support. Unfortunately, the City response was supportive on very few of the items. We are now working with consultants to identify our next steps in working with the City on these recommendations.
In addition the City discussed the historic survey update and possible approaches to conservation areas. City presentations from the meeting, which do not include the responses to the recommendations, can be seen at:
The second meeting in March was the 7th Community Plan Update Advisory Committee meeting. A preliminary height analysis was formulated by the City in order to see if existing community plan densities could be achieved with alternative maximum building height limits, including limits proposed by Mission Hills Heritage. This information is preliminary and the City states that it welcomes any input from the pubic as well as the architecture and developer community, on how to refine the assumptions and methodology used. More information can be seen at:
Future meetings, which the City has not yet scheduled, will add more information about their density and land-use analyses, which are critical to Mission Hills. We strongly encourage our residents to participate actively in these important public meetings. We will send notice of the meetings to our members and e-mail list when we receive the information from the City.
Also covered at the meeting were conceptual ideas for the Normal Street Median in Hillcrest, which can be found at the following link. These images represent a potential vision and are not plans for construction.
Mission Hills Heritage gave a joint presentation with the Mission Hills Town Council at the town hall meeting on April 14, 2011 concerning the status of the community plan update and preservation issues. The following is a slideshow of that presentation:
Over 100 neighbors attended our Community Meeting Concerning the Uptown Community Plan Update on Thursday, August 5, 2010. Mission Hills Heritage presented a powerpoint presentation discussing what the Uptown Community Plan Update actually is and how it will effect the residents of Mission Hills for generations to come. During this meeting, we described our draft input to the plan update and asked for your comments. Below are related documents from the meeting that you can download.
The Uptown Community Plan, which serves as a blueprint for development in our community, was last updated in 1988. Community plans establish long-range land use policy, including specifying dwelling densities, differentiating between residential, commercial and mixed use areas, and include recommendations for public facilities, parks and recreation, transportation and parking infrastructure. Zoning designations and other regulations implement the community plan.
In the summer of 2008 the City announced that the overdue update to the community plan would begin shortly; however, delays in hiring consultants and changes in the update committee structure stalled the process for almost 18 months. In October 2009 the City convened the update committee, known as the Community Plan Update Advisory Committee (“CPUAC”), which is composed of the Uptown Planners and various other community stakeholders.
We are pleased to announce that Mission Hills Heritage was chosen to be a member of the CPUAC, and we are participating in meetings to provide input on the plan update. Monthly meetings are scheduled through 2010, with the approval process slated to begin in 2011. What remains to be seen is whether the hard-fought Interim Height Ordinance will “sunset” before the new community plan is approved. We will strive to have the ordinance extended so that it does not expire before the new plan is approved.
The community plan update process is of great importance to our community. The plan update represents an opportunity to improve our community and resolve longstanding problems, but a danger exists that the plan update could bring unwelcome changes as well. Mission Hills Heritage is focusing its involvement on ensuring that the character and historic nature of Mission Hills is protected and enhanced in the plan update. Some areas of our concern include:
To that end, Mission Hills Heritage is working on plans for specific input to the City. We will hold a community meeting and workshop this summer to review our plans and gather community comments.