Sierra Club joins 10 other members of the San Diego Quality of Life Coalition to articulate clear criteria on the types of housing we support being pursued in the region. The coalition encourages Escondido to make development decisions in alignment with transit-supportive land use plans that provide the housing we need for residents of all income levels and in the locations we need them.
The comment letter signed by a coalition of labor, environmental, community, and climate organizations recommends several actions Escondido should consider regarding the currently proposed Palomar Heights development at the old Hospital site. These include:
- Hold-off on decisions related to the proposed redevelopment of Palomar Hospital until a project that includes at least 1,000 units is brought forward. This site would be perfect for a public private partnership and should add housing in the price ranges needed in the city. Escondido could also require that some portion of the units be affordable to lower and moderate income families and individuals to help address the goals in the housing element of its General Plan. This would maximize the opportunity to connect housing at all levels to transit.
- Initiate a review of development opportunities on parking lots and other areas in transportation corridors to address the need for more affordable units and increase density in the area. These sites, including the hospital site, are prime examples where the Request For Proposals process should be utilized to solicit the kind of partners and development the city and Escondido residents need.
- Create a stakeholder working group to develop an urban infill/transit oriented development strategy that also addresses the housing needs of lower and moderate income households for downtown and other corridor areas already in the urban footprint prior to making further development decisions. This strategy should then be incorporated into the city’s Climate Action Plan Update, to make Escondido the region’s leader in implementing the kind of smart growth tools needed at the local level to meaningfully address the climate crisis.
The letter further outlines criteria for the kinds of projects that should be specified in the Request for Proposals and assertively pursued by staff at the direction of City Council.
Projects that Escondido should support should reduce (not increase) VMT; avoid high-risk fire areas; ensure safe evacuation routes for all residents; add to affordable housing stock; qualify as infill developments; contribute to the support of transit; preserve and protect core habitat and open space areas; are on or near transportation corridors; require the job quality and workforce standards referenced above; address climate impacts in the near and long-term; and, implement land use patterns consistent with tenets of good planning. Projects that do not meet these objectives should not be pursued.