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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?

The bad news is that hard-core industrial uses should not co-mingle with residential. The San Diego region is an island surrounded by Camp Pendleton, mountains, Mexico and the Pacific Ocean and is running out of heavy industrial zoned property which is critical to sustain its embryonic diversity and growth.

The good news is that creative planning can buffer existing heavy industry away from residential. More good news is that our present diversity has changed and should focus on education, science, technology and tourism -- job-creating activities that appreciate our unique climate.

More area for heavy industrial land use need not increase at historic rates. We are different from Pittsburgh and must always be different.

Mixed-use zoning is a renaissance of the way we used to live when the farmer sold milk at his barn to those city folks who didn't have a cow. Agriculture and commerce mixed very well.

Today the computer and modem has helped produce home businesses that amount to more than 30 percent of our country's gross national product. The most successful mixed-use facility has been the university campus where teaching, science experimentation, health care, the arts, commercial student centers and residential accommodation all live happily together. The best facilities are when the campus and the community merge together and are not isolated from one another.

Having designed, built and for 12 years lived and worked in a shopkeeper home, my wife and I can attest that mixed-use living is the most productive way to enjoy work and everyday living.

--Dale Naegel

President, Naegle Architects

I think we can all agree that we have a major transportation problem in San Diego County that is only going to continue to get worse despite Caltrans and our politicians' best efforts.

The most obvious and economical relief to this problem is to find ways to encourage people to live closer to their employment, which is one thing that government probably can do. A well thought-out program (this could be a challenge for bureaucrats) for "limited" rezoning within all land use areas that would allow for mixed-use housing would, in my opinion, be a very logical step toward giving people the opportunity to live where they work.

Since not all land use zones are the most appealing places to live, government officials could grant financial incentives such as reduced property taxes to owners or subsidized rent (they hand it out for every other reason in the world) to tenants willing to work and live within their immediate neighborhoods.

Not all "industrial" zones would work under this format, but certainly light industrial and commercial would. Full discloser reports signed and approved by prospective owners/renters should circumvent future problems as to the compromises they may be making when living in these mixed-use locations. Many areas of our city already provide housing and employment in the same neighborhood, but unfortunately most residents don't necessarily work where they live.

Again, with government's cooperation and incentives, maybe this demographic problem could be improved.

--Dick Bassett

Associate broker, Hendricks & Partners

As an organization of manufacturing, research and development and technology companies, we oppose the co-location of residential, school, church or other public uses in industrial zones.

With San Diego's shrinking inventory of available land, we recognize the pressures to use areas zoned for industrial occupancies in different ways. However, the region must also not lose sight of how important it is to preserve land for the creation of good, high-paying jobs for a wide variety of skills levels and occupations and having land available to site new manufacturing and industrial facilities.

Incompatible land uses (particularly residential) adjacent to industrial facilities impede ordinary business operations and compromise the future economic viability of industrial-related enterprises.

--Patti Krebs

Executive director, Industrial Environmental Association

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