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Aid for Neighborhoods

January 18, 1987

San Diego's change from a community growing at a tolerable pace to a seemingly out-of-control urban sprawl has had enormous impact on all its neighborhoods--old and new alike.

By 1984, it was clear the City Council was so influenced by the development industry that it could not uphold its own general plan. In response, the people took a more active role in managing growth by overwhelmingly passing Proposition A. The Times called Proposition A "too extreme" and opposed its adoption.

Now planning groups, community organizations and neighborhood activists have put together a responsible measure to assure orderly change in San Diego--the institutional overlay zone. Once again, The Times opposes a citizen-based initiative to conserve community resources.

It's well-known that this measure has been put together so two important types of public property will have protection that private property does not. School property and city-owned parcels would not be able to be sold or leased without public hearings. This all happens after community planning groups, the Planning Commission and the City Council have determined that specific parcels are "institutional" in character--rather than commercial or residential.

The real resistance to the institutional overlay zone comes from the San Diego Unified School District. The district's opposition is based on the false notion that it is an owner of private property rather than a steward of irreplaceable public land. The failure of the district to provide adequate facilities in new developments does not warrant the disposal of public school properties in established neighborhoods to raise revenue.

The protection of important institutions in existing neighborhoods is just as vital as their development in new communities. The institutional overlay zone would reduce conflict and hostility to change by establishing an orderly process in which change can occur. In its opposition to this measure, The Times again misreads San Diegans' deep concern for managed growth and the quality of life in our city.


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