Amid Controversy, More Density Urged Along San Diego Trolley Extension
In 2021, San Diego's light rail "trolley" system will open a northern leg, called the "Mid Coast Corridor." It will connect La Jolla, the Golden Triangle, UCSD, the V.A. Hospital, the city's Bio-Med industry, and neighborhoods in between, to downtown, the border, and the rest of the trolley system. Needless to say, its a critical corridor in the city's transit infrastructure. Finally, the coastal city and surrounding communities will have a light rail transit system with a hub downtown that goes in the core directions of north, south, and east.
Unfortunately, a large portion of the extension uses existing heavy rail right-of-way, runs adjacent and parallel to I-5, and borders urbanized areas on only one side—at the bottom of a steep hill that runs much of the length of the extension. Such is the reality of building light rail late in urban development. Moreover, the urbanized areas abutting the extension are low density and car oriented. Much of the middle portion of the extension is not very accessible, particularly to pedestrians and bicyclists.
These conditions were to be partially remedied by "The Morena Corridor Specific Plan," which was to facilitate transit oriented development. In 2014, a neighborhood backlash against lifting a 30-foot height limit to allow six-story transit oriented development near a station along the line scuttled the Specific Plan. In an open letter, AIA San Diego revisits the necessity of facilitating transit oriented development along the extension:
All communities must share responsibility for meeting housing and transportation infrastructure needs for the greater good of the region. Adding housing, creating transportation nodes, fostering retail & commercial services and committing to expanded public amenities enhances neighborhoods, making them better places to live, work, study, play and raise families. Increased density at Tecolote and other stations along the Corridor and throughout the region will create livable communities for the workforce that makes the city function – teachers, police, nurses, mechanics, chefs and servers, designers and many others. This approach fosters prosperity, prepares us for the exciting future promised by emerging transportation and energy technologies, and builds resilience against the environmental challenges that we will experience soon.
AIA-SD urges reconsideration and adoption of the Specific Plan:
We support our public officials, the Morena Corridor Specific Plan, and local developers that advocate for thoughtful, effective growth, and economic development of our neighborhoods.
For the the full letter from AIA, see the source article.