Council Votes To Limit Building Height

The City Council Tuesday agreed to temporarily cap the height of buildings that can be built in San Diego's uptown neighborhoods while the area's community plan is updated.

The City Council voted 6-1 to prohibit construction of buildings taller than 50 feet in Mission Hills and 65 feet in Hillcrest and Bankers Hill.

Current zoning laws allow for structures up to 200 feet tall.

Opponents said the lower height limit will lead to fewer affordable housing units being built in the Uptown neighborhoods.

"The proposed ordinance arbitrarily down zones an area of the city of San Diego which is designated for high-density, mixed-use development," said Robin Munro, a lawyer who represents property owners.

Councilman Jim Madaffer, who cast the lone dissenting vote, agreed, saying the prohibition contradicts efforts to create affordable housing.

Barry Hager, president of the group Mission Hills Heritage, called that argument false, testifying that the residential towers now being built in Uptown don't contain any affordable housing. "The developers aren't building affordable housing," Hager said.

Others said the building height limit is needed to preserve community character in San Diego's oldest neighborhoods. "It's important because our community character, aesthetics and the whole feel of our community is in jeopardy," said Juli Peters-Hyde, a member of the Hillcrest Town Council.

The interim height ordinance will take effect 30 days after a second reading by the City Council.

It will end after 2 1/2 years if a new community plan has not been adopted.

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