Friday, May 13, 2011

Cedros Crossing -- what kind of NIMBYs?

This is a tough one to parse morally from a distance:

A proposed shopping and residential complex called Cedros Crossing would have been one of the biggest deals in the small SoCal town of Solana Beach. In 2008 the city rejected the whole plan, saying the project was too big for its site and too likely to generate too much traffic although it was to have functioned as a "transit village" around a commuter train station. The local North County Times said the proposal was "smart growth" gone stupid or anyhow sideways.

So the developers sued the city for refusing approval to Cedros Crossing, in a case that was only defeated in a state appeals court this past week. If you read the decision, it shows one of the developers' claims had to do with some affordable housing units that would have been part of the project. They were alleging, among other points, that the city improperly opposed affordable housing. Considering the proposal was for 141 units of which "at least 13" would have been low-income, it seems unlikely this was all about class prejudice.

But have we got a hidebound, possibly prejudiced, anti-strangers kind of NIMBYism here or an anti-traffic, pro-environmental NIMBYism that doesn't want to overbuild the coast?

I'm leaning toward the latter based on a recent news story about a revival of the part of the proposal that would have pretty differently than in the 2008 proposal:
Jack Hegenauer, who lives up the hill from the transit center and was among the community members who mobilized the opposition against the Cedros Crossing proposal, said he believes the community will support a project if it’s planned properly, with input from residents and city officials.

“Everyone in Solana Beach understood that site needed proper development. It’s a big piece of property and you just can’t leave it as a parking lot forever and ever,” he said.

Residents were concerned the previous plan didn’t include enough parking, would have snarled traffic around the transit center, and was aesthetically incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood, said Hegenauer.

Residents want “something that we can all be proud of and that will serve the city for years to come. And that process is underway,” Hegenauer said.
So maybe we're not talking some die-hard Louisiana-style campaign to exclude poor people.

Especially seeing the description here of Dr. Jack Hegenauer as "a former UCSD biochemistry professor and member of the Solana Beach "Clean & Green" Committee," seen speaking on a separate matter involving environmental impact of a proposed I-5 expansion.

But that took a little effort to figure out. Reading through the filters of the courts and the newspapers, it's so hard to figure out real motives.

So people get accused of class prejudice or worse in a case like this, for what sound like (OK, just maybe) the wrong reasons, while all kinds of harmful bigotry-based exclusion goes on in other arenas without a batted eye.

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