Kearny Mesa: A new plan for an old areaLatest Issue, Real Estate Thursday, September 14th, 2017
The old model for city planning called for separated zones for residential, commercial and industrial areas. The idea was that people would live in quiet, leafy residential areas and commute to work, avoiding the noise and pollution of commercial and industrial districts. This seemed like a good idea at the time but no more.
Today, the new idea is to eliminate commuter hours by creating communities that incorporate residential spaces with work facilities, thereby making for a better quality of life, and more time for family activities and leisure. Finding suitable areas for mixed use development is a goal of many cities, and San Diego is no exception. The great shortage of affordable housing is a propelling force and the city is on a hunt to rezone and plan for new communities that could potentially meet the need.
Enter Kearny Mesa. An industrial area located in the Eastern part of San Diego, Kearny is a flat area of land encompassing some 4,400 acres. It is bounded by State Road 52 to the north, Interstate 805 to the west, Aero Drive to the south and Interstate 15 to the east. It is currently an industrial area and home to many aerospace, electronics and other industrial and commercial enterprises; this began with the advent of General Dynamics in the 1950s.
It is noted that of the approx. 93,000 people commuting into Kearny for work, less than 3,000 actually live there. This is due to the current zoning as only 41 acres are zoned for residential and another 60 for mixed use, limiting potential development.
The city is entertaining a major rezoning for Kearny and the community hearing process has begun. Studies regarding environmental impact and traffic considerations will be completed in 2019. It is expected that the newly revised plan will dramatically increase the number of acres allowed for housing and mixed use development and engender the resurgence of the area.
This type of planning envisions the additional development of public facilities, like parks, as well as public transportation components. A new trolley line along Claremont Mesa that will access Kearny is on the long-term planning agenda – some 20 years hence.
But the future looks bright for Kearny Mesa, which in the years ahead may be transformed into the kind of mixed use community millennials and senior citizens alike seem to favor. One sign that transformation of this blighted area is on the horizon is the opening of the Kaiser Permanente – San Diego Medical Center in Kearny Mesa.
The seven-story, 617,000 square foot, $850 million facility opened last April. The hospital has created 1,000 jobs, not to mention it employed over 900+ construction jobs. This important addition to Kearny Mesa is a sure sign that the area’s future looks bright, and is in only the very early stages of a total revamp.
Mid-century 21st century will look a whole lot different than today, though with a bit of a revisiting of times past, when work, school, home, shopping and recreation happened in “the neighborhood.” It was a good idea then, and an even a better one come the future. We’re getting smarter, for sure.
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