University City residents split over pot of city money

Posted at 6:00 AM, Apr 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-23 13:05:14-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - University City residents are split down the middle over a pot of city money only being used to improve one half of the neighborhood.

"North U.C. is the mothership, and south U.C. is the forgotten stepchild," said Don Hotz, who lives in south University City.

Hotz is part of a group of south U.C. residents who want a share of the money the city is collecting from developers in the massive building boom going on in north University City, such as the expansion of Westfield UTC and the number of apartment towers on the rise.

University City is all under the same ZIP code, but there is a big difference between the urban side north of Rose Canyon, and the south side that is a quieter residential side.

The city of San Diego, therefore, keeps two separate pots of money in developer fees for each end. The money is meant to mitigate the public impact of the construction, such as with road improvements, libraries, bike lanes, and fire stations.

The north side of University City has $28 million, while the south has about $90,000.

Hotz said that's unfair because the construction, and the new residents and visitors to the area, are impacting his area.

"They're using our parks, our recreation center, they're going to our schools, so it directly impacts what's happening in south U.C., and we just don't have the benefit of that," Hotz said.

Hotz and others have been pushing for years, for instance, for a new playground at Marcy Park, but instead they have had to fundraise privately.

City of San Diego spokesman Arian Collins said the arrangement is appropriate.

"South University City is essentially a built-out community and it doesn't generate a lot of new development," he said in a statement. "In contrast, North University City has been experiencing quite a lot of development activity, which in turn is generating impact fee revenues."

Collins added the developer fees are lower in south U.C. because there are fewer infrastructure needs.

Meanwhile, residents in north U.C., where the construction is happening, are bracing for what's next.

"We see what's ahead," said Anita Miller, who lives near the Costa Verde mall, also planning an expansion with a hotel and housing. "A lot greater population, and also parking and traffic."

Hotz said his group will continue to raise money for Marcy Park improvements, but there is also work to be done on streets, including medians.