An eight-year battle over a Point Loma canyon "remnant" came nearer to an end Monday when the San Diego Housing Commission approved the sale of the 4.9-acre parcel to a developer who plans to build 78 luxury condominiums on the site.
The $1.48 million in proceeds from the sale of the triangular slice of land at Famosa and Nimitz boulevards will be spent to build low-income housing in other parts of the city if the Housing Authority and City Council ratify Monday's Housing Commission decision. The nine City Council members also sit as the city's Housing Authority.
The 4-1 vote represented a defeat for community members who have been fighting development of the parcel for six years, and a victory for developer R.J.1., Inc., which has been interested in building on the land since 1985.
Members of the Committee to Save Famosa Canyon told the Housing Commission Monday that it should turn down the sale because it would aggravate on-street parking problems and because the community wants the land preserved as open space.
They also noted that the city Planning Commission has never reviewed the developers' intentions and that noise from planes at Lindbergh Field would make building there unfeasible.
They asked that the matter be forwarded to the Planning Commission or that the city apply to the Federal Aviation Administration to purchase the land as part of that agency's effort to reduce the number of residences that border airports.
"The city won't lose one cent, not one cent, if it applies for FAA funds," said Mikki Justice, a member of the committee.
But developer Chuck Baldwin, calling the site "the most unsightly hole in all of Point Loma," showed the commission maps of nearby parkland and said that there is "more park and open space around the site than in any place in the City of San Diego."
He also said that the development will include 2.5 parking spaces for each condominium and that 78 units is about half the density allowed under zoning regulations.
A Housing Commission staff report showed that soundproofing measures such as dual-glazed windows and solid-core doors will bring decibel levels inside the condominiums down to acceptable levels.
With only Commissioner Abbe Wolfsheimer dissenting, the commission voted 4-1 to approve the sale. The decision asks the Housing Authority, which consists of the full council, to approve the sale and asks the council to rescind a resolution passed six years ago that restricts use of the land for public housing only--a plan that was defeated in 1982 after intense public opposition.
Justice said the community group will fight the plan when it comes before both the Housing Authority and the council.
"That was only the Housing Commission," she said. "All they could do was make a recommendation. So it's not over."