The Serra Mesa Planning Group (SMPG) solicits input from the community when projects are presented or issues arise. SMPG reviews project to determine if they’re in accordance with the Serra Mesa Community Plan. Additionally, SMPG reviews projects located in the Kearny Mesa Planning Area which are adjacent to Serra Mesa. In all cases SMPG assesses projects to determine if impacts have been addressed. When needed SMPG represents the community interests by attending hearings before a Hearing Officer, or at Planning Commission or at City Council. SMPG makes recommendations. The final decision is made by either by a Hearing Officer or the Planning Commission or the City Council.
Mission Center Road Community Plan Amendment Application 2019
Excerpt from letter sent to Serra Mesa Planning Group from City of San Diego Planning Department on September 12, 2019:
“I would like to inform you and the Planning Group that the City has received an application for a community plan amendment at a vacant site at Mission Center Road and I-805. As you may know, the General Plan requires either Planning Commission or City Council initiation before a community plan amendment process can proceed if compliant with the three initiation criteria found in Policy LU-D.10 of the General Plan’s Land Use Element. Staff is in process of reviewing the application and will be requesting a Planning Commission date within the next few months depending on staff availability. The Serra Mesa Planning Group is requested to provide a recommendation on the initiation action. If the applicant has not reached out to you yet requesting time on the agenda, a partial scan of the application is attached for your information.”
Major Projects Reviewed from 2002-2014
This is not a comprehensive history of all of the projects or issues that SMPG has reviewed or addressed. It does not include informational items, requests for stop signs or speed bumps, all of the condo conversions, sewer projects, wastewater waivers, cell tower requests, public utility easements, and liquor license requests. Additionally throughout the years SMPG has discussed inadequate bus service, traffic calming on Murray Ridge and Sandrock Roads, traffic congestion in the Birdland area, future plans for Qualcomm Stadium, and Montgomery Airfield.
The items are listed in reverse chronological order roughly by when they were first introduced to SMPG.
San Diego River Ruffin Canyon Trail & Urban Walk Project
- A trail connecting Serra Mesa to Mission Valley
- Please find the Mitigated Negative Declaration here: http://sdrc.ca.gov/
- Additionally, the SDRC’s Notice Of Intent to adopt the Mitigated Negative Declaration: Ruffin Canyon-Urban Walk NOI
- In April 2013 SMPG passed a motion to support the proposed San Diego River Canyon Trail & Urban Walk project with the request that the project coordinates efforts to mitigate impacts on the neighbors close to the trail.
Civita (formerly called Quarry Falls)
Sandrock Gas Station
- Sandrock Gas Station came before SMPG to modify their CUP to add additional space to the snack shop, and sell beer and wine. During the review of the application by Development Services, staff discovered that there was current activities at the location outside the current CUP
- At some point, Neighborhood Code Compliance began an investigation due to the ongoing activities outside the current CUP.
- In October of 2010, an NCC Hearing Officer found the Station to be out of compliance on several issues, and gave them until January, 2011 to correct the issues.
- In August 2012 withdrew their request for a license to sell beer and wine. Subsequently, the station was sold in October 2013 and the new owner doesn’t conduct auto repair.
Birdland Traffic and Parking Issues, Juvenile Court Complex
- In November of 2007, many interested parties met at the Le Mans Condominium Complex Community Room to discuss the on-street parking and traffic issues in the residential area of Birdland. Subsequent meetings identified causes of Sharp Hospital construction, followed by Rady Children’s Hospital construction, and lack of off-street parking provided by the Juvenile Court complex. Several years of research and review and discussion with the hospitals and the County followed.
- In August of 2009, SMPG held their regular monthly meeting at the newly opened Ronald McDonald House, and had one of the largest turnouts in several years. These issues were discussed by the hospital representatives.
- In January of 2010, County Supervisor Ron Roberts’ Senior Policy Analyst Stephanie Gioia and County Staff gave a presentation on a proposed additional 260-space parking lot for County employees, which had great potential for improving the situation.
- In December of 2010, the new County parking lot was opened.
Pacific Hope Church, 3550 Afton Road
- In January 2008 SMPG recommended approval in support of the CUP with conditions limiting the size of services and when they’re scheduled.
Palladium At Aero Project
- Project: Demolish existing industrial buildings to develop 412 apartments with 5,190 square feet of retail space on a 7.52 acre site located at 8655 Aero Drive in the Kearny Mesa Community Plan area.
- September 18, 2008 – Serra Mesa Planning Group voted 10-1-0 to recommend denial of the project citing concerns with bulk and scale, inadequate parking and the project’s setback from Aero Drive.
- October 16, 2008 – Planning Commission continued the item so the developer could make revisions to the project to address their concerns.
- October 22, 2008 – At a special meeting SMPG passed a motion indicating that the revised project still contained significant deficiencies in regards to bulk and scale and neighborhood character, and insufficient parking. Additionally, a request accepted by the developer was made that the Serra Mesa welcome sign in the porkchop be replaced.
- October 23, 2008 – Planning Commission passed a motion to approve the revised project.
- November 18, 2008 – City Council approved the project.
- December 19, 2008 – Lawsuit was filed against the developer, Westcore Properties. During settlement meetings the plaintiff, Serra Mesans for Responsible Planning (SMRP), asked that impacts from the project be addressed.
- December 17, 2009 – The developer, Westcore Properties, settled the lawsuit with SMRP. Here were the terms of the lawsuit:
- A reduction of 52 units from the 412 units originally planned. The new maximum will be 360 units.
- Significant additional parking requirements, increasing from 1.5 to 1.65 spaces per 1 bedroom unit and from 2.0 to 2.25 spaces per 2 bedroom unit. Depending upon the final unit mix, this equates to about 70 more off-street parking spaces at the reduced unit count.
- Reduced the height along Aero Drive and Sandrock Road from 4 stories down to 3 stories.
- Increased the setback along Aero Drive by 32 feet, matching the Gamma Scientific building setback.
- Increased the setback along Sandrock Road, matching the Aero Office Park setback.
- The south setback, stepback articulation, landscaping and all related items previously agreed upon with the Serra Mesa Planning Group shall be maintained.
- Two permanent radar speed checkers will be paid for by Westcore and installed on Sandrock Road.
- A $25,000 trust fund will be established for the Serra Mesa Community Council to use at their discretion for future independent traffic studies.
- Attorney fees and lawsuit costs will be reimbursed by Westcore.
- The Serra Mesa Community Council through its attorney will receive notice if there are any proposed revisions to the project.
- There will be enforceable remedies should the developer propose to build differently from what is agreed.
- January 2013 – Property was sold to Alliance Realty who renamed the project Broadstone. Construction began in summer 2013 and was completed in 2015.
Soille Hebrew Day School on Afton, technically located in Kearny Mesa Planning Area
- In November 2007 SMPG recommended approval of a ten-year CUP with the condition that the school works closely with the Serra Mesa community to solve any traffic issues.
Afghan Community Islamic Center, 3333 Sandrock Road
- In May 2007 SMPG voted approval of the center with the following recommendations: requirement to close median on Sandrock Road be removed and the CUP be issued for three years.
- In August 2007 the Hearing Officer approved a five year CUP and supported SMPG’s request regarding the median strip. The center, open to anyone, is a place for Afghan-Americans and new immigrants to get “moral, religious, cultural and economical support.”
- In October 2013 SMPG recommended approval of the extension of the conditional use permit for 20 years and to remove the restrictions of the hours for assembly.
Cabrillo Springs (Cabrillo Palisades) Condo Conversion, Annrae St at Mesa College Drive
- In November 2006 SMPG recommended denial of the proposal to convert 368 existing apartment units into condos. Reason given was that the Serra Mesa community plan requires a balance between single family, multi family, and affordable housing and that the recent rash of condo conversions has upset this balance.
Cabrillo Medical Commercial Condos
- In October 2006 SMPG recommended approval of the map waiver for commercial condos.
Cabrillo Medical Center, 7895 Cardinal Court, Commercial Condo Converion
- In October 2006 SMPG recommended approval of the map waiver for commercial condos.
Airport Observation Areas for Public Access at City of San Diego Airports
- In September 2006 SMPG approved sending a letter in support of plans to build an area at each airfield, including Montgomery Field, that are for public use to observe air operations, help teach people and children about aviation and possible jobs in the field, etc. The projects are funded entirely by donations. Due to the City budget crisis, this project appears to be dead.
2780 Cardinal Rd. Commercial Condo Conversion,
- In April 2006 SMPG recommended approval of conversion of commercial building to commercial condominium.
Rady Children’s Hospital Acute Care Pavilion
- In March 2006 SMPG recommended approval of plans to build the pavilion which will have approximately 154 beds (84 new, rest replacing existing beds).
- This wonderful addition to a County-wide resource held its Grand Opening in September, 2010.
Ronald McDonald House:
- In October 2005 SMPG recommended approval of the construction of a new building on the top level of Children’s Hospital new parking structure.
- In February 2006 SMPG recommended approval of an amended proposal comprised of 47 bedrooms in the same original footprint.
- The new facility held its Grand Opening in July, 2009.
8501 Glenhaven St, and 8562 Hurlbut Condominium Conversion
- In February 2006 SMPG recommended approval of the condo conversion of the fourplex on Hurlbut and recommended denial of the 50 units on Glenhaven due to parking issues as well as concerns that units are too small for condos versus rentals.
Salvation Army Door of Hope, 2799 Health Center Drive
- In February 2006 SMPG recommended approval of project to remove some buildings and build 40 apartments in three and four story structures.
West Aero Drive Land Use Study
- In March 2005 SMPG request notification of when the study goes to the Planning Commission. A study was conducted of Aero Drive from Kearny Villa Road to Ruffin Road, technically in Kearny Mesa. The study concluded that the area is a “prime candidate to allow mixed office and residential uses” and to “allow more intense development.
- For more information see Palladium At Aero.
Aquaterra (formerly Murray Canyon Apartments), located in Mission Valley Planning Area across from the Art Institute of California
- In March 2005 the Planning Commission approved the condition that SMPG requested that the signal installed on Mission Center Road be removed once the Quarry Falls project improves its connection.
- In 2010 SMPG reminded City staff of this condition.
Sharp Hospital and Birdland Bus Shelter
- In September 2004 SMPG recommended approval of the project to build a seven-story hospital building and to express the need for a bus shelter on the west side of the Health Center Drive. The Planning Commission approved the project and included the condition that the bus shelter be built. SMPG pushed Sharp to build the shelter sooner than required because of the great need for it.
- In March 2008 the bus shelter was dedicated to Lowell Farris, a long-term member of SMPG, who died unexpectedly.
Mira Bella (formerly known as Parkview Aero Court Condominiums) located on Kearny Villa Road adjacent to Cabrillo Heights Park, technically in the Kearny Mesa Planning Area
- In March 2004 SMPG recommended approval of the project. Also, SMPG began discussion with Kearny Mesa to receive some of the development impact fees from this project to be applied toward Serra Mesa facilities which would be used by the resident of the development.
- In July 2005 SMPG recommended approval of the modifications to the project proposed by new ownership.
- In October 2005 the City Council approved the project and the condition that in lieu of the park fee portion of the Kearny Mesa Development Impact Fee a $4.4 million payment be made for use in the Serra Mesa for parks, including a joint use facility at Wegeforth Elementary School and a dog off-leash area a Cabrillo Heights Neighborhood Park.
- In 2003 SMPG supported the conditional use permit (CUP) for temporary location of Rock Church near the corner of Ruffin Road and Aero Drive (technically in Kearny Mesa Planning Area).
- In 2005-2006 numerous meetings and discussions were held regarding Rock Church’s CUP violations and their application for amendment to their CUP. Rock Church paid a $5,000 penalty in September 2006.
- In November 2006 the balance of $50,000 was dismissed when the amendment to their CUP was approved by the Hearing Officer. The amendment included conditions that were mutually agreed upon by SMPG and Rock Church.
- In 2007 Rock Church moved to their new building at Liberty Station in Pt. Loma.
Mission Center Road Proposed Development
- In 2003 an applicant proposed building mini-storage units on the east side of Mission Center Road north of Hye Park. The area is zoned for residences. After consulting with the Hye Park community SMPG did not support the proposal. The applicant didn’t pursue the project.
Serra Mesa Public Facilities Financing Plan
- This lists Serra Mesa’s public facilities (e.g., streets, park and recreation, police, fire, library, etc.) needs. Development impact fees collected from new development in Serra Mesa are used to meet the needs listed in the plan.
- In 2003 SMPG revised the Serra Mesa Public Facilities Financing Plan and developed a list of priorities.
Mission Village Shopping Center Redevelopment Project – corner of Gramercy and Ruffin Road
- In 2001 proposal made by the applicant, Mission Village Properties, to demolish 77,715 s.f. of retail buildings and replace with 6,600 s.f. and to build three and four story buildings for 184 apartments.
- In February 2002 the shopping center was demolished after erroneously receiving a demolition permit because the demolition application used a Ruffin Road address instead of the Gramercy Drive address listed on the discretionary permit. A stop work order was issued and the community lived with the debris from the partially destroyed center for more than seven months.
- Throughout 2002 SMPG attended meetings with the architect and the applicant’s representative to discuss the project and attended Planning Commission hearings.
- In May 2002 the applicant asked the Planning Commission for a continuance.
- In January 2004 the Planning Commission approved the project for 160 residential units, 8,000 s.f. of retail along Ruffin Road and the applicant pays $500,000 to the City if the gas station site is not redeveloped. SMPG had requested 25,000 s.f. of retail in response to the community’s request for a grocery store, adequate parking, a community meeting room year-round, and 10 ft. setbacks. The Serra Mesa Planning Group appealed the Planning Commission’s decision.
- In March 2004 the City Council denied the appeal and approved three story buildings, 160 residential units, shared parking between residential and retail, 15,000 s.f. of retail (8,000 s.f. along Ruffin Road and 7,000 s.f. at the former gas station site at the corner of Ruffin and Gramercy), a meeting room year-round, $500,000 to be paid for improvements to Serra Mesa if the applicant does not apply for a building permit to redevelop the gas station corner within one year after the service station lease has terminated and a “no further action” letter (refers to remedial action for the underground storage tanks).
- A review of the final project by SMPG indicates that the project design is an improvement over the original project that was proposed. The project is required to pay the new development impact fees (an increase of over $4,000 per unit) which became effective in February 2004.
- In November 2005 a hearing officer approved the applicant’s request to convert to condominiums and included the community’s requests that the community room be available to the community at no cost and that condominium owners have at least one assigned parking space deeded to them.
- Council Resolution http://docs.sandiego.gov/council_reso_ordinance/rao2004/R-299042.pdf
- City Council Meeting Docket: http://docs.sandiego.gov/councildockets/dkt2004/dkt20040330.pdf
- City Council Minutes: http://docs.sandiego.gov/councildockets/dkt2004/dkt20040330.pdf
- Report to City Council: http://docs.sandiego.gov/reportstocouncil/2004/04-064.pdf
Verizon Murray Ridge
- In November 2014 SMPG recommended approval of construction of a wireless communication facility in the parking lot of Faith Community Church on the condition that the church is allowed to approve any changes.
Huntington Avenue Storm Drain
- In November 2014 SMPG recommended approval of replacement of the drain in the easement from Huntington Avenue and Wilbee Court into the canyon and that the project should be completed as soon as possible.
Cardinal Slope Easement Vacation
- In September 2014 SMPG recommended approval of the vacation of the easement. This was an easement that was obtained for CA-163 but was relinquished to the City because it was no longer needed. The audience raised concerns of resulting traffic and parking problems that might be generated from up to 30 more apartments that might be built on the site. SMPG voted unanimously for “In recognition of the strong opposition and concerns of the Birdland community regarding traffic and parking issues, we request that any future development at this property be brought to the attention of the Birdland community and the Serra Mesa Planning Group.”
Ruffin Canyon Trail Park Equivalency
- In September 2014 SMPG voted that “The Ruffin Canyon Trail is a park equivalency for the Serra Mesa community per the General Plan standards.” Equivalency is required for giving $100,000 designated from the Broadstone Ad Hoc Fees to Canyonlands for the design and construction of Ruffin Canyon Trail.
Broadstone Ad Hoc Fees
- In May 15, 2014 SMPG voted to accept the recommendation of the subcommittee priorities in order of ranking: Taft Joint Use, Cabrillo Hts Western Field Lights, Ruffin Canyon Trail, Juarez Joint Use ADA. Subsequently, staff revised project costs. A joint meeting with the Serra Mesa Park and Recreation Council was held on July 15, 2014, to discuss the prioritization of projects. SMPG voted to reaffirm the earlier SMPG vote to endorse the Taft Joint Use project as SMPG’s recommendation.
Sevan Court Sewer Easement Vacation
- In June 2014 SMPG recommended that the approval of the vacation of the sewer line, turning it over to the property owner for maintenance.
Aealas Charter School
- In June 2014 SMPG received notification that the conditional use permit for a charter school at 9160 Gramercy Drive had been withdrawn. The time limit on the school’s escrow wasn’t extended.
Sandrock Road Diet Plan
- In February 2014 SMPG recommended approval of the plan that eliminates one travel lane in each direction on Sandrock Road from Aero Drive to Gramercy and installs Class II bicycle lanes with buffers in each direction and recommended that there be a protected permission left turn arrow for north and southbound traffic at Murray Ridge Road.
Sprint SDGE Tower
- In February 2014 SMPG recommended approval of the plans (conditional use permit renewal with modifications to existing site).
- In November 2014 SMPG recommended approval of the modified plans.
- In October 2013 SMPG recommended approval of the existing Hickman Field plan without the aquatic complex and that the financing from Serra Mesa be removed from the plan.
Capital Improvement Projects
- In July 2013 SMPG recommended that the Capital Improvement Projects be itemized in the following order:
- Improved irrigation system for Cabrillo Heights Park, using recycled water, if possible to improve field conditions.
- Cardinal Road in the Birdland area widened to relieve traffic congestion.
- A sidewalk or paved pathway for the roadway from Mission Village to the Qualcomm Stadium Trolley Station.
- Construct median improvements and new welcome signs for our community.
- Former Serra Mesa Library Building on Sandrock Road be repurposed for community use if feasible.