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Little Italy residents fight half-price apartments project

Posted at 5:56 PM, Sep 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-15 21:45:46-04

SAN DIEGO - Some residents in Little Italy are fighting back against a developer's plan to build half-price apartments in their neighborhood.

Michael Smith thought the idea was a joke when he first found out about it.

"This project, as it currently stands, doesn't even pass the laugh test," Smith said.

Smith is not laughing anymore; he's now fighting back against a plan that he thinks could make getting in and out of Little Italy even harder than it is now.

"You've got to be kidding me, developer, to build 37 apartments in this area, with no off-street parking," Smith said.

That's exactly what local development company Jonathan Segal FAIA plans to do at the corner of Cedar and Union streets, the entrance to one of San Diego's most expensive areas.

The plan doesn't include underground parking for the 37 units -- all of them 400-square-foot studios -- saving what could be millions. The trade-off is rent 50 percent below market.

In Little Italy, studios can rent for as much as $2,600 a month.

"I think it's going to bring people to Little Italy that don't necessarily realize that they can live here right now," said Matthew Segal, a developer on the project.

Smith, who lives down the block from the project, said it's unrealistic to think those tenants won't bring their cars.

One resident told 10News that the parking is so bad in Little Italy that he's moving out.

Smith said he deals with it every day. He created a sign against the project and recently camped outside the site to warn others.

"This will be a living nightmare for decades to come for residents of Little Italy, especially in this general area," Smith said.

It's an area famous for its walkability, but infamous for its lack of accessibility.

Civic San Diego will consider the project at a meeting next month.