During the first meeting of 2020 for the Coronado City Council, City Manager Blair King reported that a seven-page appeal letter had been sent to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), which serves as the region’s planning agency, from the city. The topic is the now-infamous SANDAG mandate to construct 1,001 new homes in the city for the Regional Housing Needs Assessment Sixth Cycle, which runs from October 2021 through October 2029.
In addition to the fact the mandate represents a 2,000 percent increase over Coronado’s housing quota from Cycle Five, the City has direct land use authority over just 2.2 square miles, which is already 95 percent built-out. If the math from that previous sentence doesn’t seem to work, there’s more. SANDAG allocated all of the military personnel who work on Naval Base Coronado to the City of Coronado, but none of the military housing constructed to house the military personnel was considered in determining the final new housing quota. There are other relevant points to why the housing allocation in Coronado is unrealistic, but those are the primary elements.
The letter, which was signed by Mayor Richard Bailey on behalf of the city, concluded with the following allocation request: “The City of Coronado respectfully requests that SANDAG modify the allocations to exclude active military jobs in the City’s job totals and to redistribute the (housing) units allocated to those jobs on a regional basis. Alternatively, the City would also support a redistribution of units derived from active duty military jobs to other member cities that have unmet housing capacity from past housing element update cycles.”
That last sentence is a shot fired across the bow of several other SANDAG cities who didn’t come close to meeting their housing allotment goals from the Fifth Cycle. Conversely, Coronado easily met and surpassed its Fifth Cycle allotment of 64 new low and moderately-priced housing units.
A copy of the seven-page letter sent to SANDAG can be found on the city’s website at www.coronado.ca.us.
During the second half of his City Manager Report, King noted the Airport Land Use Commission of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority has released the “Naval Air Station North Island Draft Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan (ALUCP).” King noted there are 30 residences in the Airport’s ‘Clear Zone’ and 1,000 properties are located within Accident Zones 1 and 2. A printed copy of the report can be reviewed at the Coronado Public Library. If you have a hearty printer at home or work, the bulk of the verbiage sans attachments, is contained in a 36-page report. King added, “The City staff is preparing a letter the City Council will review at a future meeting.” The public comment period on the ALUCP concludes Feb. 7, 2020.
The balance of the meeting was more upbeat in tone, as among the items the council discussed were recommendations to make the intersection of Sixth Street and Pomona Avenue safer for pedestrians. City Senior Engineer Jim Newton made the presentation to the Council, which included a laundry list of options for their consideration. Newton said 10,000 vehicles pass through the intersection daily and added that the Sixth Street collector was a suggested Safe Route to School. Vehicle speeds through the intersection were characterized as, ‘Close to the limit,’ and Newton also said, “During peak hours crossing Pomona is a challenge. Pedestrians need to make a visual connection with drivers to make safe entry into the street.”
From the Department of Coronado Trivia, resident Linda Charles, who lives in the area under discussion, noted the exaggerated barrel shape of Pomona was due to the street being constructed over train tracks, which also lessens driver visibility. You just never know what you’ll learn during a City Council session.
During the Council’s comment portion of the agenda item, Councilmember Mike Donovan said, “Councilmember Bill Sandke and I put together a list of problem intersections in the city and this intersection was on the list. I support the staff recommendation on this, but before we start dumping a lot of money on this intersection, and another one next month, we should have an overall traffic calming master plan. Then we can look at all these problem intersections, make good decisions, and come together for a master strategy. Part of the master plan could be prioritization and as our capital budget allows, we can invoke some of those tools.” Councilmembers Whitney Benzian and Marvin Heinze were both in favor of a proactive approach to improving the intersection.
The staff recommendation included, “(1) Install a new pedestrian crosswalk on the north side of the intersection; replace the pedestrian ramp on the northwest corner; and (2) install “Crossing Ahead” warning signs/markings (replace existing signs on northbound Pomona; new signs for southbound Pomona).” The motion was made by Sandke, and Donovan suggested a friendly amendment be added that asks the city staff to work with the newly formed Mobility Commission to develop a traffic calming master plan. Sandke agreed to the amendment and the motion passed 5-0.
It was a busy meeting for Newton, who followed his Sixth and Pomona presentation with the 2018 City of Coronado Traffic Report. The highlights of the report included the city experiencing the fifth highest traffic volume ever, at right around 100,000 vehicles coming and going daily. There was a total of 184 collisions, the majority of which occurred on state highways (The Third and Fourth Street Couplet and all of Orange Avenue extended). There was one fatal collision and 98 injury collisions. Although the traffic volume in 2018 increased from 97,000 cars daily in 2017, the total number of collisions decreased from 218 to 184. Donovan suggested that some of the traffic calming improvements made by the city might have worked. The council accepted the report by a unanimous vote.
In other City Council actions:
The Council kicked around the concept of specific standards for second story additions in the Village Residence Zone of the Coronado Cays. The matter arose when a Cays resident was denied a variance for a second story addition due to past city policies. According to City Director of Community Development, Redevelopment Services and Housing Rich Grunow, “Based on our findings, there has been inconsistent enforcement of the policy for over 20 years. The staff’s interest is to receive clear direction (from the Council), so the standards are applied the same to everybody who comes through the door.” After discussing the issue, it was agreed that City Manager King would work with the Coronado Cays Homeowners Association and a recommendation from the Cays HOA Board would be brought back to the City Council for further consideration.
In the final 15 minutes of the two-hour meeting, the frequently recurring phenomenon that is the Community Grant Program was brought forward for more refinement by the Council. This time the assignment was to review the evaluation criteria for the grant awards. There are four grant categories and six separate criteria within each category, with a numerical value assigned to each. As a result, the Council not only was able to word-smith the sub-categories, but they also massaged the numerical weighting of several of the sub-categories. King noted, “This is a review and no decision needs to be made today. We’ll have a 30-day public comment period and the comments can be made on-line.” So in summary, the Council’s recently revised numbers may change again after the public comment period and we just wasted 15 minutes.
The next meeting of the Coronado City Council will be held Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, at 4 p.m. City Council meetings are held at City Hall, located at 1825 Strand Way in Coronado.