A Re-Tooled Park Station Returns

LA MESA -- The La Mesa Planning Commission expects a long night Wednesday as the retooled Park Station Project returns for another round of discussion and scrutiny.

The project, which lost its American Legion partner after the last hearing, will again ask the Planning Commission to consider approving a Park Station Specific Plan that would allow the 4.77 acre area to have development that will deviate from the downtown Village Specific Plan currently in place for that area.

The Park Station project being proposed by the landowners -- the Kitzman family -- is a mixed use development that would include condos or a hotel, retail and office space. The Kitzman's architects have proposed exceeding the city's four-story limits as the kind of "smart growth,'' transit-based project that regional planners love these days.

La Mesa residents, however, have been a bit cooler to the plan on the whole. While most residents see a need to develop what is essentially a very unattractive, underused "front door" to the community off Interstate 8, opposition seems to increase with any discussion of an increased height limit for this project. The first proposal asked permission for 190 foot towers. That has been reduced in the new proposal to 110 feet or about ten stories -- six higher than current zoning allows there.

Residents in homes on the slopes east and west of the project site have complained that high rise structures would greatly impede the view from their homes. Other residents have questioned whether high rises fit with a community that prides itself on being "small town" America. Yet, an area abutting a trolley line, surrounded by bus lines and circled by Interstates, this is exactly the kind of area regional planners believe should support higher-density development.  

At Wednesday's meeting, the Planning Commission can recommend approval or denial of the request, or the commissioners could approve with conditions suggesting limits to the height of the buildings. But the ultimate decision is made by the full City Council which will hear from proponents and opponents before voting at a future meeting.

The Planning Commission meets in the Council Chambers on Allison Avenue. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.

CLICK HERE to read background stories on the Park Station project.

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Comment by Aaron Seth on October 1, 2014 at 10:17am

Tonight could be our only chance to stop big development in the village. If the planning commission votes "yes" it becomes very easy for the city council to take the easy way out and approve saying "we were just following their recommendation".

The ONLY chance we have at stopping this is to show up - in great numbers - and tell them the people are against this.

You don't have to give a speech, all you have to do is stand up and say "I don't think this project fits with our community" - (and "fitting" in with the character and surrounding community is a legal requirement of any proposed development).

And if you want more specific things to mention, here are a few you can talk about:

*Their EIR predicts +8,800 new daily car trips to the area - traffic in that area is already bad and the EIR did not look at what this would do to freeway entrances and exits or impacts on traffic to other areas of the village.

*They say they want to build shops and cafes on the first floor yet they ask to be allowed to HAVE NO WINDOWS on the ground floor - what shops/cafes have no windows? Answer: None but Parking garages don't need them.

*At 110 feet the top of the buildings would be only 3 feet shorter than Mt. Nebo and taller than every other hill in La Mesa, the Jewel of the Hills.

*They are asking to not have to file a CUP for their hotel/motel - a CUP is a "Conditional Use Permit with conditions of approval to ensure the peace, health, safety and general welfare of the adjoining area".

*There is no funding in place, actual blueprints or architectural drawings of the proposed development - they are asking for a blank slate to build whatever they want and not need to go through the approval process again.

*There are several other large landowners (some in the very center of the village) who have said they are waiting to see what happens with this and if it gets approved plan on asking to up-zone their property as well citing the allowance for Park Station. This could be the beginning of high density 10 story buildings through La Mesa.

*They are only providing 1 parking space per unit - or about 300 spots for well over 1000 people. Will they be parking on your street? Filling up the already crowded Vons parking lot?

*They say it "could" bring in a million dollars a year - but that will be quickly used up by more police, firefighters, fire trucks, maintenance and wear and tear to our streets from this development.

*There is no "park" in Park Station. That is now a road in their new plans. The required "open space" in their plans is made up of personal patios and landscaping next to the sidewalk.

*They estimate TEN YEARS of continuous Monday-Saturday all-day construction.

Smart growth is good, but this is not smart growth. This is a bloated developer get-rich-quick scheme. Come tonight - Let's take back our city from out-of-town developers - Let's keep La Mesa the one we know and love for us and our kids.

Thank you and I can't wait to see you all tonight!

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