Every day, some 6,400 motorists rattle down Chollas Parkway in the City Heights area. To the north are a few small industrial lots, and to the south is a creek.
This week the San Diego City Council approved zoning changes that would allow parkland there instead. Residents say it’s sorely needed.
“Our neighborhood is about 87 percent deficient in parks,” said Laura Riebau, chair of the Eastern Area Communities Planning Committee. “That means we have 13 percent of the parks that we should have for the population.”
The city would carve out an alternative route for motorists by extending Lea Street between 54th Street and University Avenue.
The zoning changes also clear the way for a mixed-use village. Residents and city planners envision homes and shops atop the expansive strip mall that’s there now. The retail center long sat vacant before asupermarket and department store recently came in.
And a preliminary design would improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists at the adjacent intersection. It’s one of the city’s most dangerous, because cars making right turns don’t have to slow or stop.
But this week’s City Council vote doesn’t mean crews will break ground anytime soon. The park and village don’t have full funding.
Riebau said the city and planning group are aggressively seeking state environmental grants to fund the park, and that a private developer would likely have to take on the village.
“All we have is like a place-setting for a project,” Riebau said. “But after changing the zone, hopefully someone will be able to come in and make what they want to develop there happen more easily.”