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Honks against housing in San Diego’s University City

The University area is one of 53 community planning areas in the City of San Diego. And this one, as the name suggests, houses the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), which is at the northern end of the blue transit line.

The last time the University Community Plan was updated was in 1987, and so it’s an old plan and it is currently being redone to better align with the City’s current strategic plan — which includes things like “creating homes for all of us” and “championing sustainability.”

The final draft community plan won’t be available until later this year, but there are two draft scenarios available for download. Here’s what Scenario A looks like:

The “T” circles are transit stops on the Blue Line (which runs south to downtown and then to the Mexico border), the olive green areas are institutional (UCSD, hospital, etc.), and the purple areas are “urban villages” with densities that go as high as 218 dwelling units per acre (darkest purple). For the other areas, please refer to the legend.

Now let’s put this residential density into some sort of context. One acre = 43,560 square feet. So we’re talking about 218 homes on every 43,560 square feet of land. For context, our mid-rise Junction House project is 151 homes and our site area is approximately 22,000 square feet (about 0.5 acres). That puts us at roughly 302 homes per acre — more than what is proposed here.

In total the revised plan could allow for somewhere between 35,000 to 56,000 new homes in the University City area. Not surprisingly, the community has reacted by organizing rallies, such as this one, here, called “Honks against housing”:

(I used a screenshot because embedded tweets don’t seem to show up properly in my email newsletter.)

This is, again, not unexpected. And all of the typical things could be said about incumbent residents opposing new homes on top of an existing transit line, next to a major university. But what stands out to me about this protest is its format.

These residents are worried that high-rises will destroy their community. So presumably they are looking to get the word out to as many people as possible. And one of the ways they have decided to do that is stand on the side of a busy road and appeal to people in their cars.

Ironically, I think this actually reinforces the need for an updated Community Plan. Because it speaks to the car-oriented nature of this community and the need for better land use planning around its existing transit stations.

In my view, the line of thinking here should not be, “this is going to destroy our community. How will our roads ever accommodate 35,000 new homes?” It should be, “how do we better plan this community so that our next generation of residents have the luxury not to have to drive everywhere?”

If you’d like to offer constructive feedback on this plan, I’m told that you can email Nancy Graham at

1 Comment so far

  1. Perhaps I am the only one that likes walking over driving (even though I do love cars just do not want to depend on them). Seems like most people in Washington State (where I live) want to drive everywhere and do not want to walk…it is sad to me

    Liked by 1 person

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