Fight brewing over Hillcrest housing complex

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A group of Hillcrest residents are fighting a proposed housing tower they say would take the sunshine out of their neighborhood and add traffic. 

Greystar Development wants to build a seven-story, 111 unit mixed-use housing complex near 7th and Robinson, not far from Whole Foods. The complex would replace the parking lot AT&T employees currently use for the company's building across the street. The lot borders a neighborhood filled with Spanish-style homes. 

The city gave Greystar a density bonus because it includes nine very low-income units. It also determined the developer would not have to do a costly and time-consuming environmental impact report.

"Housing, housing, housing is the only thing they're going to consider. And they're not going to consider the impact on the neighborhood that's there," said Tom Mullaney, who heads a group called Uptown United, which is appealing the project. 

Uptown United is fighting the city's determination that Greystar doesn't have to do an environmental impact report. That goes before the City Council April 23.

Mullaney said Uptown United also wants the project scaled back. 

Jim Ivory, Greystar's senior director of development, said in a statement that company included community input in designing the project, which has the backing of the city's Uptown Community Planning group.

"We are proud of the design that has evolved in the last 18 months," he said. "Staff and community input has been incorporated along the way for the betterment of the project."

Some in the neighborhood also welcome the project. Herbert Ross, who lives down the street, says the AT&T lot has become a public nuisance.

"The hangout that it's become for people who are homeless who don't clean up after themselves, I think anything would be an improvement to the area," he said. 

But Michael Bayless says the project would take away the direct sunlight he gets in his home office.

"I just came from Seattle to escape the lack of sun," he said. "It would be depressing."

Greystar's development would also include retail at street level, and a 190 spot parking garage. It would also construct an 86-space parking garage for AT&T employees to use. 

Scott Robinson, a spokesman for the city of San Diego, said a preliminary review of the project revealed that it could significantly impact the area's traffic and noise levels. However, he said Greystar made changes to the plan to make those impacts less than significant.

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