We Appealed to the City Council and the developers won

On February 5, 2008 only two members of the San Diego City Council stood up for the environment, the citizens of California and the neighborhood of Kensington.  We thank you, Donna Frye and Brian Maienschein.  You did the right thing.

The vote was 5-2.  Each time we pick up one more vote.

Next time, we only need one.

Councilmember Donna Frye explains her vote in favor of our appeal:

It was very heartening to hear people focus on the issues, specifically talking about

CEQA, talking about the findings that needed to be made, talking about the significant thresholds and actually making a case for their sides, and the idea being which side made the better case.

And in my opinion, based on a couple of things, I believe that there are going to be significant effects on the environment, and I believe that the significance determinations thresholds and also looking at the initial study checklist which I have pulled out, and I will just start with the first page, I won't go on. Because I could go on, page by page…

 The initial study checklist lists for each one of those questions -  no, no, no, no, no. And I think improperly checks no.

I think at a minimum they should have at least said maybe, and I think to be totally honest about it or at least acknowledging what was going to happen to the community you would have to mark yes. And the minute you marked yes, that should have required some sort of analysis to occur.

Because what is going to happen is that it is going to change the neighborhood. It's going to change it substantially.

And it's sometimes referred to under CEQA as cumulative impacts – I call it creeping incrementalism. 

And essentially what I believe is going to happen is that once one project gets in, that project will be the project that will be cited for the next project, to bust the height.

This is the height buster project.

We have a 30 foot height limit in Clairemont, and we often get projects that try and come in and bust the height and the community just stops it. But this one will bust the height, and once it busts the height, the next project that comes forward, and I think there are folks in the audience that will bring theirs forward pretty quickly, that will closely resemble this project, and pretty soon the way the community used to look -  it’s not going to look like that at all.  It will never look like that again, and it will have a cumulative impact and it will, in fact, which they talk about mandatory findings of significance.

Again, in your initial study checklist, does the project have impacts which are individually limited but cumulatively considerable? I would say yes. I think they’re cumulatively considerable.

That doesn't mean it is a bad project.

That just means that there are certain things that are going to happen. We all know they are going to happen, all an Environmental Impact Report says is “admit and acknowledge” the existence of those impacts and then provide some analysis, and the analysis would then you lead you to provide alternatives, which may include a scaled back version, which may include something such as a two story.

It could be a number of alternatives that a community would look at rather than saying this is the project, because those weren’t analyzed.

There are cumulative impacts and I think the project from 1997 [1999] will help show that, that it was a ministerial project, that was never analyzed, and to say this is consistent...

I expect there will be a lawsuit. I wish there wasn't going to be a lawsuit. But I really would hope that when our city, when our city looks at these initial study checklists and looks at what is considered significant - or cumulative impacts is something that I've harped on since I've been here, long before I was ever elected to council - the cumulative impacts analysis
generally done by the city could be improved a whole lot.

And I think it's not serving us well as far as legislators who really are the ones who are going to have to make the final decision, you know, unless it gets -- unless it goes to court.

But it seems that there is a better way to do it.

And I would have to agree with Councilmember Maienschein, when somebody says it is a Level of Service F, so we're going to put more traffic in it and it will still be a Level of Service F, I mean, that's illogical. That's just illogical. It’s like it’s F, so it will always be F forever and always.

That's not mitigation.