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Sounding Board: Co-location

Daily Transcript Question: A debate has arisen in San Diego County communities over the rezoning of properties from industrial to "mixed-use"- where residential and commercial uses co-locate. Proponents want to increase the housing supply. Opponents note the shortage of commercially zoned land and argue that co-location will lead to conflicts and the restricting of activities in which existing businesses can engage. Is co-location a viable land-use policy? If so, where in your community does co-location make sense and why?


Zoning is intended to separate a city into areas that provide for the density of development and the use of the land. Residential uses have traditionally been considered to be incompatible with industrial use. California has enacted a number of laws intended to promote an adequate supply of affordable housing. This has lead to the adoption of inclusionary zoning programs by some cities. Inclusionary programs integrate populations and uses that traditional zoning segregates.

Local control over land use is fundamental to the protection of community values. Each community will have to decide for itself whether or not mixed use is appropriate in its area. Mixed-use developments are more densely built, thereby reducing sprawl and commuting time. However, the introduction of residential units into a commercial area will impact business activity in both a positive and negative way.

Del Mar is a built out community. There is little separation between the commercial and residential areas. Recent condominium development adjacent to restaurant use has lead to complaints, mediation and now litigation concerning noise levels. Any further mixed-use development in Del Mar must be implemented cautiously with sensitivity to its benefits and impacts.

Carl Hilliard

Del Mar City Council member


The shortage of good affordable housing in San Diego County is reaching crisis proportions. This will affect the quality of life we enjoy, and more importantly, the ability of our children to live in San Diego. Further, our economic engine needs entry-level housing, both leased and owned, to run.

My group, the 10,000-member San Diego Association of Realtors is actively involved in the affordable housing effort. Our Housing Task Force chair, K. J. Koljonen, is relentless in her pursuit of housing issues. We need help from the community and government leadership.

One of the great tools is governmental action. Either with entitlements, up-zoning and (very importantly) colocation of light industry with mixed-use retail. Of course you wouldn't put homes/condos/apartments around dangerous or non- compatible industry. Put that stuff out in the East Miramar "approach-zone/noise buffer" for our new San Diego International Airport (on the old Miramar MCAS site) ... oops ... forward thinking ...

In-fill, out-fill, renovate, collocate ... let's get our kids and employees some clean, safe, affordable housing.

Joe Graham

President/Westland Properties and past president San Diego Association of Realtors


The desire to prevent urban sprawl and the scarcity of residential land in San Diego make urban infill crucial to our city, and means that residential may be located near industrial uses. Mixing uses through infill development can have many benefits, including protecting habitat, reducing traffic and providing the workforce housing so crucial to industrial and other employers.

The compatibility issues arising from building homes near industrial uses can be addressed in a variety of ways, and can be individualized to meet the unique circumstances of each project. A blanket buffer between the uses is inappropriate and unnecessary.

For example, new residents should receive full disclosures of the existence of nearby industrial uses, to preclude later complaints that those uses were unknown at the time of purchase.

Residents also can be put on notice about the surrounding industrial uses through a statement recorded on the property's title that runs with the land. Or, residents can grant permanent easements to the industrial users that allow their uses to continue even when they are noisy, odorous or otherwise unattractive.

By recording statements and easements, industry can be assured that subsequent residential buyers will be on notice of the adjacent uses.

In addition, design review, permitting and CEQA can be used to require walls and landscape buffers be incorporated to reduce noise, odors and visual impacts from industrial operations; require enhanced construction standards, such as sound-proofing and sealed windows and upgraded air filtering systems; and implement design features that address potential incompatibilities.

Separation between industrial and residential uses may be appropriate in some situations, but the size of any buffer should be determined by topography, prevailing winds, and individual site and use characteristics.

Through use of a variety of legal, design, and other means residential and industrial uses can co-exist compatibly and allow San Diego to achieve its dual goals of providing housing and jobs to those who seek to live and work here.

Donna Jones

Downtown San Diego Partnership, 2005 Board of Directors - Director; attorney, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton


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