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Stop the Mission Valley-ization!
September 2008 | By Robert Vicino

 

Since 2004, the new owners of the Flower Hill Mall have floated at least three different site plans for the expansion of the center, under the guise of “rehabilitation”. The current plan is reduced from 250,000 square feet to “just 164,334 SF” including a Whole Foods Supermarket, while acing out the UltraStar Theater. However, the plan includes no evidence of “rehabilitation” of the existing buildings, just an expansion with 69,483 SF of new structures. This leads many to believe that this is just the first of two phases, where the developer will return after the completion of the first phase for approval to tear down the original buildings, and construct a second phase expansion totaling his original ¼ million square feet.

Since their 2003 acquisition, the center has expanded from 108,893 SF, to over 112,422 SF (4%), without going through any approval process. This is called “piecemeal” development, a pattern at Flower Hill of “build first and ask for forgiveness later”. 

One of those piecemeal expansions includes Paradise Grille, with an 1,800 SF outdoor full-service dining patio, expanded without a Coastal Development Permit. They are seeking a retroactive permit, but the center currently has nearly 38% restaurant space that per the San Diego Municipal Code (SDMC) requires 228 more parking spaces than actually exist. The City of San Diego cannot ignore this fact, approve Paradise Grille’s expansion, or approve the overall expansion without requiring an even bigger scaled parking structure than is currently being proposed. 

Unfortunately, Flower Hill is not located in Del Mar. If it were, it would be doubtful that they would ever meet CEQA or Coastal Commission’s requirements and obtain these approvals.  Flower Hill is an outpost of San Diego that if expanded will have no measurable impact on that city, while significantly affecting the traffic, aesthetics, commercialization and pollution that will hang over Del Mar. 

It’s time Del Mar took a position on this controversial project and gets a seat at the proverbial planning table. We can appeal to the Coastal Commission, that is currently claiming jurisdiction over Flower Hill, to step in on the basis of the regional impact of this project. 

Flower Hill needs renovation and should be allowed reasonable expansion up to 150,000 SF (a 25% FAR), with a customary 30’ height limit. That will provide this developer a nice return on his investment, without overwhelming our community.

Robert Vicino is Spokesperson for StopFlowerHill.com.

 

   
 

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