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Calif. Coastal Commission to consider new zoning for San Diego next month

At its next meeting, the California Coastal Commission will explore the expansion of residential zoning into places it had not been allowed before, plus the creation of two new industrial zones in San Diego County.

The expansion of the so-called IP-3-1 (industrial park) Zone would permit residential development, along with research and development and office uses within the coastal zone.

The IP-3-1 Zone would also allow for the co-location of workforce housing and commercial uses within the industrial zones the Coastal Commission governs. This zoning in theory could reduce work commutes, and provide additional opportunities to reduce car trips.

"In industrial areas, mass transit, alternative forms of transportation and the collocation of uses are being encouraged in order to address traffic impacts and promote smart growth efforts," the Coastal Commission staff reports.

The IP-3-1 Zone would allow for residential uses on a case-by-case basis provided the housing covers less than 49 percent of the usable area of the lot -- as governed by existing floor area ratios, setbacks, height limits, etc.

Although the IP-3-1 Zone would create an overlay that would act in concert with the existing community plans, the Coastal Commission staff acknowledges the possibility of conflicts.

"The proximity of industrial and residential uses in IP-3-1 raises the potential issue of land-use incompatibility, including impacts to noise, air quality, traffic, public health and safety," the Coastal Commission staff added.

"The proposed IP-3-1 Zone would allow for light manufacturing, but would restrict heavy and marine industrial uses, warehousing and distribution, thus reducing negative impacts."

It should be noted that along with areas at or near the coast, the Coastal Commission also has jurisdiction over large portions of water courses that ultimately lead to the Pacific, along with vernal pools and many other, but not all areas with sensitive habitats.

The IBT-1-1 is a new international business and trade (enterprise) zone that would augment free enterprise zones such as those created on Otay Mesa and Barrio Logan.

Barrio Logan's enterprise zone, for example, is a geographically designated, economically depressed area in which businesses can receive several state tax breaks and other benefits. The major benefits of the enterprise zone program are the tax savings on California business income taxes.

These tax savings include sales or usage tax credits, hiring credits, business expense deductions, net interest deductions for lenders, and employee tax credits.

"The primary goal of the IBT-1-1 zone is to promote international trade with Mexico in communities adjacent to the border," the Coastal Commission staff said.

"The application of this zone in San Ysidro, which borders Mexico, may not be consistent with the priorities of its community plan which suggests that future industrial growth should occur further inland in Otay Mesa, however."

The city adopted its version of the IBT-1-1 and the IP-3-1 zones in conjunction with an update to the Otay Mesa Community Plan (Otay Mesa isn't in the coastal zone) earlier this year.

The IBT-1-1 zone provides for a variety of base sector industrial and office uses, "and would be applied in portions of communities adjacent to the international border, and areas in transition to higher intensity industries," the report states.

Within the coastal zone, there are industrially zoned properties within the Barrio Logan, Centre City, Mira Mesa, Pacific Beach, San Ysidro, Torrey Pines and University City communities.

Most of National City and parts of Chula Vista also have industrial areas within the coastal zone.

The report emphasizes that it has not identified specific examples where the zoning changes might apply.

"At this time, no specific rezonings are being proposed; the subject LCP (local coastal plan) amendment simply incorporates the two new zones for possible use in the future," the report continued. "Future application would therefore necessitate separate LCP amendments in the future …"

Coastal Commission staff is recommending approval of the measures. Qualified Coastal Commission officials could not be reached for comment last week.

The Coastal Commission meeting will take place at the Santa Monica Civic Center on Jan. 7.

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