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By Janis Russell

March 12, 2015 (La Mesa) -- On Tuesday, La Mesa’s City Council voted to move forward on negotiations with Westmont Companies for development of a senior living facility adjacent to Briercrest Park. The Council also set an optional $25,000/parking space fee for a space in a conceptual parking building, for expanding Village businesses in lieu of providing additional on-site parking.

Bill Chopyk, the community development director, presented a staff report on the proposed senior living facility, noting that there was a competitive process for negotiation to develop a senior living facility and that Westmont Living had been chosen. Chopyk introduced the representatives from Westmont: Michael O’Rourke; principal owner; and the two project managers, Joe Taylor and Stan Sokolove.

 “We’re very excited,” O’Rourke said about the prospect of partnering with La Mesa on the property, which he added is “a really perfect site within proximity to Grossmont Hospital…”

Vice Mayor Sterling praised staff for their recommendation to move forward with this project.

O’Rourke, a La Mesa resident, told her, “We’re long term holders of real estate… We’re in here for the long term.”

City manager David Witt said, “I think we can move forward with this very quickly.”

Sterling then made a motion to approve the selection of Westmont companies to develop a senior living facility on the Briercrest site and authorize staff to prepare an agreement to negotiate with Westmont Companies. Councilmember Guy McWhirter seconded the motion. The vote was 4-1 with an abstention from Councilmember Bill Baber.

Next was a hearing continued from January 27th to consider adoption of an optional in-lieu parking fee for required off-street parking for non-residential development in the downtown commercial zone.

While most Village lots are fully built out without space for any additional parking, the Village Specific Plan allows properties to build upward - but with expansion comes a corresponding requirement to provide more parking spaces. For this reason a study and conceptual plans for a parking structure was done in 2011 using a grant from SANDAG. The plan was put on the back burner until property owners and merchants decided whether or not to create a PBID (answer, not), and then the recent election had been held. It was brought back to Council last meeting, who requested updated numbers and continued it to this meeting.

Witt introduced Paul Marra from Keyser- Marston Associates to explain this in detail.

“We completed the 2011 study,” Marra stated. “We went back to our data resources and surveyed a couple of parking consultants…The most typical figure for cost per parking space is $25,000. We still think your proposal would be appropriate.”

Councilmember Kristine Alessio thanked Mara for doing this.

Witt acknowledged that this was a significant step and called it consistent with other programs.

There were no speakers for this item.

Baber clarified to Witt that the parking in-lieu fee meant that the building developers either provide parking spaces or pay the fee. Witt confirmed that.

After the hearing closed, Council had four related items to vote on. The first one was a negative declaration. First, Alessio pointed out that she was hesitant to adopt the ordinance because there was already the downtown specific plan project already in place, and she wasn’t comfortable with the in-lieu fee. Sterling then moved to adopt the declaration with a second by Mayor Mark Arapostathis. The vote was 5-0.

Then, Sterling moved to adopt the ordinance considering the parking section from title 12 of the city’s municipal code. Arapostathis gave a second. The vote was 4-1 with Alessio against.

Next, Sterling made a motion to adopt the zoning ordinance section from title 24.04. The vote was 4-1 with Alessio against.

Lastly was a consideration of a resolution of Council to adopt the in-lieu parking fee for fiscal year 2014-2015. The fee would be $25,000 per parking space. The vote was 3-2 with Baber and Alessio against.

For more information about the senior living facility, go to pages 101-107 in the March 10 agenda with items document.

For more information about the parking ordinance, read pages 108-168 in the March 10 agenda with items document.

Also of note, the consent calendar included approval of a resolution authorizing the filing of an application for smart growth incentive grant program funds through SANDAG for the final design and construction of a pedestrian crossing at Spring Street and the I-8 off ramp trolley tracks and a sidewalk with connectivity to University Avenue. For more information about this item, click here for the March 10, 2015 agenda with items and read pages 49-89 from the city website. 

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