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Preserving Canyons

September 15, 1985

I read with interest your Sept. 1 article concerning the proposed Tecolote Canyon Environs Overlay District and would like to clarify some misconceptions that have developed in recent weeks.

The proposed ordinance, a result of the efforts of the San Diego Planning Department, the Tecolote Canyon Citizens Advisory Board and the Tecolote Task Force, is intended to provide responsible guidelines for development along the canyon rim. Let me quote from the proposal:

"The Tecolote Canyon Overlay District is an overlying zoning district intended to accommodate urban development, within the canyon rim and related hillside areas and canyon environs, of a character which will respect the natural environment and mitigate safety hazards resulting from urbanization, thereby conserving the aesthetic qualities and restorative values of the canyon and its environs. All these qualities are an important part of San Diego's heritage."

Although the proposal addresses such concerns as fire retardant vegetation, canyon rim setback requirements, emergency vehicle and pedestrian access, it affects existing property only if proposed changes are within the canyon rim or result in excessive bulk of the existing structure. Most of the guidelines included in the Overlay District are already in existence--as in the Hillside Review or the Planned Residential Development permit process. The intent of the Overlay District is to more clearly define what many felt were confusing and often vague requirements of existing codes, the interpretation of which is generally left to the discretion of the city staff.

In response to public testimony, the Planning Department is revising the present draft, and there will be ample opportunity for review at future public hearings. While I would expect further refinements of the ordinance to take place, I would hope that this original intent be remembered.

Tecolote Canyon is one of the country's largest urban natural parks. It should be preserved and protected. I believe that sensitive development should positively impact the community. This ordinance will go a long way toward guaranteeing the right of homeowners and citizens to enjoy a rapidly diminishing treasured resource: our canyons.

MIKE GOTCH

City councilman

San Diego

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