Sunday, December 02, 2007

Political Stuff: Kensington Terrace & Recalling Kevin Faulconer

A couple political things today.

First, there's this article about Kensington Terrace, the giant development that has been approved across the street from my house. The whole thing bums me out. Not so much because I'm opposed to development, but because I know one day these same developers will strong arm my landlord and she'll be left with no choice but to sell- especially with the burned out house next door just sitting there untouched. They're just waiting like pirranhas waiting to kick my ass out of the neighborhood, and that makes me sad.

In a city like San Diego that is already too expensive for middle and low income people like me, it just sucks. Renters don't have a voice and nobody really gives a shit about us- like my poor neighbors who got the boot a couple years ago when their building underwent a condo conversion. The two bedroom apartments rented for about $900. The converted two bedroom "condos" sold for $476,000. Obviously those neighbors relocated to another community.

For obvious reasons, I'll be paying close attention to this development. Some neighbors have put together a blog if anyone else is interested in following along. There is a planned appeal to oppose this project. There is a site created in support of the development by the developer here:Kensington Voice Blog And there's also one in opposition to the project here: For Kensington Here's another site with some great EIR info: Kensington Terrace Info

The other issue chapping my hide today is councilmember Kevin Falconer. There is now a site attempting to recall the councilmember, and while I may not be well versed in beach politics, the arguments are at least compelling enough for me to see it as worthy posting here. As many know, Kevin is behind the alcohol beach ban. Those idiots in the 4th of July mob in Mission Beach had no idea what a blessing their stupidity was to Mr Faulconer.

I'm not fact checking here- but basically my brother in law is involved in many community orgs in PB and told me that Kevin has received a couple fat donations from developers who plan to develop the waterfront...starting in OB and going as far north as they can. They intend to develop heritage land that isn't supposed to be developed and they're also fighting for a higher height limit on beach front properties. The info on the developments can be found here. It appears this will also be a goal in the downtown port area. Because nobody should be able to see the ocean unless you're rich enough to buy a house right in front of it. Like I said, I don't know all the ins and outs on this issue, but since I've always thought of Faulconer as a dirtball sleazebag, I'd support a recall even if what I've been told is only partially true. Recall Kevin Faulconer website.


Lazy John said...

Pathological developers are trying to ruin the last bastions of affordable residences for those of us outside the norm. This movement is political. If it weren't, we'd see independent businesses renting space in these stucco eyesores. We don't. We see subsizided corporate crapholes. Downtown's revitalization could have been done right if it weren't so elitist in nature, but that elitism is by design and not an accidental by-product. This is the ripple effect of G.W.'s pushing through the changes in eminent domain to private business. He and his will attempt to declare the surrounding areas 'blighted,' and the recent decline in real estate values will only speed this up. Fortunately, even devalued houses in Kensington are worth so much that they will never qualify as 'blighted.'

Sam Guillen said...

Thank you for the mention and the link to, I will reciprocate soon.

I hear and understand your frustration regarding development; however with a growing population and suburban sprawl eating up our remaining precious land, “in-fill” development is becoming a necessity. We can certainly debate the size of the Kensington Terrace or even its architectural design and weather-or-not it fits into character of the neighborhood, but the continued success of Kensington Plaza (Starbucks Building – and success defined as no vacancies and thriving commercial tenants who experience terrific profits each year) is a clear indication of supply and demand.

So, while I agree that developers make property owners “offer’s they can’t refuse” in-order to profit from any such development, I still can’t help but think how we (the public) contribute to the very thing people are opposing. It has become “build-it and they will come”. Is that the fault of the developer? The City and its officials? Or is our (the Public) need for consumption?

This same “supply and demand” also plays a big part in housing cost. Many people want to live in San Diego. How many times have you heard someone diss San Diego? Rarely I’m sure. As a transplant from LA San Diego is my paradise, and as long as people continue to LOVE San Diego the demand will continue. Yes, we are experiencing a major correction, but this upward movement is inevitable, both in home prices and rents.

What we paid (for Homes and Rent) in 1960 will never be realized again. Likewise with 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and soon enough 2007. We can debate, oppose and even attempt to halt development but migration into San Diego will continue regardless of how we feel.

So truthfully, my vote is for higher density and reduction of living space in exchange for preserving what is left of our precious natural habitat. Just my two cents. :)

Lazy John said...

I'm not frustrated. I'm suspicious. Why Kensington of all places?

Before putting "in-fill" in Kensington, review and consider the neighborhoods that actually need this "economic development" (that is, if it's not just developerese for "low-paying service jobs to make rich people richer") and which can handle such building and infrastructure redesign more effectively, such as City Heights, and build there first (or, better yet, refurbish existing buildings). If you are truly concerned with fighting suburban sprawl, you will first focus on areas which are truly blighted and which truly need upgraded dwellings, and not on neighborhoods which are just fine the way they are.

If you are truly concerned with economic development, you will provide it where it is most needed, rather than attempt to assert that middle- to upper-middle-class Kensington is "the ghetto." You will also build buildings which actually look urban rather than continue the suburbanization of mid-city (which is what ruined downtown and Little Italy).

We saw with downtown and Little Italy (and, to a lesser extent, with North Park) that developers' goals had nothing to do with community improvement and everything to do with getting rich at residents' expense. Fortunately for us in midtown, this backfired on developers, as evidenced by the empty eyesore at the corner of
30th and El Cajon where the Aztec Bowl used to be.

If the Kensington thing does go through, it should be strictly regulated. The architecture should have to conform to the look of the neighborhood (it can be facades, as exist in Paris) and the developers need to be held 100% responsible for re-doing the infrastructure to accommodate all the changes. If developers can't do that, they shouldn't build there. No more eyesores like the building which houses the Starbucks. Putting a bunch of stucco in the middle of a mid-century neighborhood will drive down everyone's property value and drive out the very businesses which moved there because of the aesthetic, which is the primary draw for their clientele. Such will actually hurt the neighborhood economy. People with taste don't like ugly buildings.

In terms of traffic, one merely needs to drive south on Genesee Avenue between 3:30 pm and 6pm to experience the effects of a lack of infrastructure before development. The Regents Road Bridge, which was supposed to be built over 20 years ago, would have alleviated much of this traffic (the claim that widening Genesee Avenue would alleviate more traffic is ridiculous; Genesee Avenue cannot be widened without taking out many homes and a large high school). Imagine overburdening the east end of Adams Avenue this way.

Your assumption that rents will continue to rise is fallacious. The Union-Tribune just published an article stating that rents are lower than they were in 2006. Rents ebb and flow according to market forces and not necessarily to population size. San Diego continues to grow, yet there are more unoccupied buildings in this city right now than there were a few years ago (mostly empty condo conversions which didn't sell when the bubble burst, and which could be rented to those with less money if developers were truly concerned with the welfare of the residents in the areas in which they have built).

While I agree that we need to move to a Portlandesque model, placing fish-out-of-water stucco buildings in old neighborhoods is not the answer. Start somewhere more practical. If you don't, you are nothing more than just another double-talking developer who helped make San Diego worse, and you are merely attempting to corporatize yet another wonderfully independent, quirky community.

goodhabits said...

Traffic, parking, community character - all impacted by the Kensington Terrace development. Read it and weep -

Anonymous said...


You're a RE agent who lives in Kensington and wants to have an office in Kensington Terrace, aren't you?

Your point of view may be a tad biased.

Few, if any, are opposed to "development" at the site.

However, the neighborhood is solidly opposed (outside of those who with a material interest in having the development) to its planned size and traffic generating qualities.

Kensington is not designed for high-traffic flow.
That is a fact that cannot be mitigated by PR firms or government decree.

What makes good neighborhoods, neighborhoods of quality, is that cars come second to people in those neighborhoods.

El Cajon Blvd is so darned awful because of the volume and speed of the cars that pass. That volume and speed kill any neighborhood feel.

Reduce the size of Kensington Terrace; reduce the number of parking spaces by half; put legally binding constraints on what businesses can lease therer and there will be no opposition to the development.

The project will speed through.

Don't do the above, and the neighborhood will fight it every single step of the way.

Pretty simple, really.

eggman said...

Kevin Faulconer ran for office promising not to vote for beach alcohol prohibition. He has betrayed his constituents and the other citizens of San Diego who can't afford to live at the beach, but enjoy drinking a can of beer or two on the beach. He has followed in fascist lock-step with the rest of the city council and caused other communities to the north to enact their own prohibitions to prevent the hoards of drunken barbarians from invading their own beaches. Laws were already on the books forbidding public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. If the police are unable to enforce existing laws, why should they be expected to actively enforce a duplicative and unpopular law which only takes away the freedom of law abiding citizens to responsibly enjoy a cold one on the beach? The taking of small freedoms adds up; we are in danger of losing that which distinguishes Americans from others in the world who have failed to defend their own freedom. Soon, all that will remain of the American Ideal will be a dim memory. It reminds me of a quote from the original Star Trek tv series: "Freedom? That is a Yang worship word. You will not use it!" It is time to stand up to overly ambitious politicians who will take our freedom from us without benefit of a public mandate. Recall Kevin Faulconer and the rest of our sorry City Council before they can do any more damage.