SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Some residents in the College Area who once faced off against "mini-dorms" are now battling what are being called "mega-dorms."
The residents say the new student housing, being proposed by San Diego State University, isn't worth destroying a sensitive canyon in their neighborhood.
"We don't have to give up the canyon. The canyon is a valuable resource," said resident Robert Plice.
Plice's backyard runs along another canyon that wouldn't be impacted by the new dorms. He said the city of San Diego has been protecting the last remaining canyons in this neighborhood for years.
"It contains, according to the city of San Diego, as many as 85 different species," said Plice.
Which is why he and many of his neighbors on Hewlett Drive are fighting to save the canyon that runs along their street. They want to keep this from going from a quiet, single-family neighborhood to what they say will be very high-density housing.
"Maybe the kind of density you'd see in New York City," said Plice.
Phase one will be built in the parking lot near the existing Chapultepec Tower on Remington Road. SDSU spokeswoman Gina Jacobs said it'll house second-year non-local students who'll be required to live on campus.
The goal is to start construction this fall and have the tower completed in time for fall of next year.
Residents aren't against that tower; they're against the other two phases that will be built right in the canyon below.
"One spoke of that cantilever will come up right up to the back door of this house," said Plice.
The house belongs to his neighbor Rod Clay, whose family has been there for decades, long before the university.
"It'll be a shame to lose this. I'm not against development. I just don't think this is the spot for it," said Clay.
Neither does Plice. He taught at SDSU for 14 years, and he's aware of the housing shortage. He's all for more dormitories, but he and his neighbors wonder why SDSU doesn't demolish and rebuild the nearby old apartments along 55th Street near campus.
In its draft Environmental Impact Report, SDSU explains why it rejected that plan and a few other alternative options.
The report states, in part:
"The existing student housing, which presently provides housing for approximately 770 students, would result in the loss of these beds from the campus inventory and, as a result, the first 850 beds to be constructed would merely provide replacement housing and only add 80 beds to the current inventory; that is, SDSU would need to construct 3,336 beds in order to achieve an increase of 2,566 beds. Demolition and redevelopment also would negatively impact current student bed capacity and displace student residents during the nearly three-year construction period."
Plice insists there are as many as 16 other options.
"It can be on this side of the campus. We don't insist that it all be somewhere else. We're perfectly willing to shoulder our share of the impacts of growth on the campus," added Plice. "But it's a false trade-off to say that they have to build in the canyon or else they can't build their housing. We can have both."
The university says there's no timeline yet for phase two and three. Residents are now able to give their feedback via mail.
To check out the plans and to comment on them, click here.