What’s Happening Around the New Trolley Stops?

Henish Pulickal

April 30, 2019

In mid-March I was invited to speak at the monthly meeting for the top 30 Realtors in La Jolla.  The meeting was hosted in a beautiful ballroom in the La Jolla Country Club with epic ocean and golf course views.  I was honored to be their speaker for the evening, but it wasn’t for my residential real estate or construction knowledge.  In this case, they wanted to know what was happening around the new trolley stops and the at De Anza Cove on the Northwest corner of Mission Bay.
For the past several years I have been an elected volunteer board member of the Pacific Beach Planning Group and I currently serve as Chairman of the group. There are 42 planning groups throughout San Diego comprised of elected resident and commercial board members to represent their communities for all land use issues as a city-recognized advisory group to City Council.  It’s a great way to give back to your community and help make decisions regarding all development in your area. 
As a result, I’m very familiar with all the big projects happening or coming soon in our area.  The biggest one is the trolley line extension from Old Town terminating at UTC Mall.  This 11-mile extension will run along the 5 highway with several stops in along the way (see map).  San Diego has a strategy called “City of Villages,” that creates areas of mixed-use development with residential, commercial, employment and civic uses in the area.   These areas are intended to be pedestrian-friendly with retail on the ground floor and residential/commercial on 2nd and 3rd floor (most areas are restricted to 30’ height limits).  There will also be parks and other public spaces to bring people together. It’s a great strategy and the new trolley line is intended to help facilitate these goals. 
In Pacific Beach the trolley stop will be just East of the 5, at the SW corner of Balboa and Morena Blvd.  With that new station, there is a redevelopment and rezoning plan for the area immediately to the West of the 5, which includes a lot of the car dealerships, office buildings, storage facilities, and residential.  The whole area is being up-zoned, meaning higher density in this area, including the opportunity to create a large community village. 
This doesn’t change anything immediately, but once this passes through city council later this year, then goes through Coastal Commission next year, it will allow for retail on the ground floor with office or residential space on the 2nd and 3rd floors.  The idea is that the increased density with the zoning would compel the current owners to improve their lot or sell to a someone that would redevelop the area for its highest and best use. 
Additionally, the city is already in progress to make significant road and sidewalk improvements to handle the traffic better and allow pedestrians to more safely walk/bike through this part of town.  There are also plans to do either a tunnel under the 5 or a bridge over the highway for pedestrians. Many of the trolley stops are getting similar attention to the immediate area.  Here are links to more information:

  1. Trolley: https://www.keepsandiegomoving.com/Mid-coast/midcoast-intro.aspx.
  2. Morena Corridor Specific Plan – https://www.sandiego.gov/planning/community/specificplans/morena-corridor
  3. Clairemont Community Plan Update – https://www.clairemontplan.org/
  4. Balboa Specific Plan – https://www.sandiego.gov/planning/community/specificplans/balboa-station
  5. University Community Plan Update – https://www.sandiego.gov/planning/community/cpu/university
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