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Otay Mesa planning update nears completion

In the midst of the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update controversy, Otay Mesa has been preparing an update of its own relatively unnoticed.

Rob Hixson, chair of the Otay Mesa Planning Group and senior vice president at CBRE, said the update, which was scheduled to go before the Planning Commission on Thursday but was postponed for several weeks for reasons unknown to him, has seen much less opposition than Barrio Logan has.

“There is a small group in the trucking industry that is still concerned about the Central Village’s location in relation to truck routes and industry, but I think we’ve figured out a pretty good buffer,” Hixson said. “We’ve had some concerns, but I think most of them have been answered and worked out with everyone. We tried to get everyone at the table to give their input.”

The proposed plan’s Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Report was released Sept. 10 for a 45-day public review, and Hixson said he was hopeful that the finished plan would go before the San Diego City Council in two to three months.

If accepted as is, the plan would provide for two more zones in the eastern part of Otay Mesa, which is mostly industrial space with a small retail section.

“We’re creating two new zones, one for international business and trade, which is an industrial zone that allows truck traffic and light industrial activity, and the other is a heavy industrial zone,” Hixson said. “In San Diego they’ve never had a zone that allowed auto dismantling and really heavy auto uses, and we obviously needed that.”

The Otay Mesa vision map. Click here to view a full-size pdf.

Hixson said there have been conditional use permits for the heavy auto industry, first in East Village, then Chula Vista and finally Otay Mesa, so he said it makes sense to make this a permanent zone.

Additionally, the plan lays out two “city villages” with a focus on residential units as well as schools, mixed-use town centers, parks and public transit. The Southwest Village would have about 1,400 single-family units at build-out and 4,480 multifamily units to house 21,028 people. Central Village would have 4,960 multifamily units and 17,112 residents.

The Southwest Village would be south of the high school, mostly south of Beyer Boulevard and west of Central Village, which is bordered by state Route 905 on the north and Britannia Boulevard on the east.

A third village was originally proposed farther east, but Hixson said the truck community thought this conflicted with existing routes, so it was rejected during the 10 years the update has been in the works.

The villages are expected to be pedestrian-focused, and with the trolley not an option, Hixson said bus lines will have direct access to downtown San Diego.

“We can’t get the trolley line up the mountain from San Ysidro because there’s too much vertical change,” Hixson said. “On the western side, the cliffs are very unstable.”

The bus route will come down state Route 125 as part of the new Interstate 805 express project, and is expected to get residents from Otay Mesa to downtown San Diego in 30 or 40 minutes with limited stops along the way.

The plan also accounts for aviation, with Brown Field set to be redeveloped to provide more opportunities for hangars and private aircraft, and the new access terminal for Tijuana’s General Abelardo L. Rodriguez International Airport already underway on Otay Mesa’s border.

“SANDAG says more than 2 million people a year will use the terminal,” Hixson said. “We haven’t had these people coming through at all, so now we’ll have 2 million people a year come to Otay Mesa, park their vehicles and go through the terminal, up an escalator and into Rodriguez.”

The city of San Diego planner, facilities financing project manager and parks representative for the plan couldn’t be reached for comment.

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