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An open letter to La Mesa Planning Commission Chair James D. Newland

By Dr. Anthony D. McIvor

March 18, 2018 (La Mesa) -- As 60-year residents of La Mesa, our family objects to The Phair Company’s La Mesa Summit housing proposal. Luxury houses (at $1million+) usually offer green energy and amenities, but the sum of them, for just a handful of buyers, cannot begin to offset the loss to the larger community, if the plan were approved as is.  

Barricading the westernmost high point in the city with a private, gated development will reduce the quality of life for all La Mesans who walk, run, cycle and scramble after their dogs in the Summit/Eastridge area – not just now, but forever. Hundreds of La Mesans use these hills in tandem with our famed stairs.

The financial loss to the surrounding homeowners whose views will be diminished and the aggravation inflicted on neighbors who will endure still more traffic on what local folks call the Eastridge Expressway are also high-value negatives.

We urge you to set aside the dubious claim that the Summit project will provide “much needed luxury homes” in La Mesa. With your stewardship, this exceptional parcel can serve a higher civic good and permit Phair to build there, as a partner. These are not exclusive goals.  

Surely the city can find a way (public-private partnership?) to save public access to this last undeveloped Pacific-view promontory in La Mesa as a permanent civic resource for the enjoyment and enrichment of residents and visitors.  

Please do not let this incomplete proposal destroy your last chance to create a public space in a unique place, for a city proud of the hills in its motto.

Editor’s note: The public may contact James D. Newland, La Mesa Planning Commission Chairman, at 8130 Allison Ave., La Mesa, CA 91941 to voice your views for or against this proposed project.

The views in this editorial reflect the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact

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We did a later interview with developer Jeff Phair, and

visited the site of the proposed La Mesa Summit Estates project along with Anthony McIvor, who wrote the editorial above.  Mr. Phair has resolved Mr. McIvor's main concern about access for pedestrians.  You can read our article, written after that interview and walk through, here:

Am Building A Park In La Mesa Summit Estates

I Am Building A Park In La Mesa Summit Estates I am the developer of La Mesa Summit Estates. I hosted four community meetings at the La Mesa Community Center for residents of the Serramar area. Over one hundred neighbors attended these community meetings over the past 18 months to give me their input on my development plans. When Serramar was built 13 years ago, the builder was not required to build a park, which is usually required for a development of nearly 300 homes. At the community meetings I hosted, several neighbors expressed their desire to have a local park to which they walk. They asked me if I would include a public park in La Mesa Summit Estates. I agreed. I decreased the number of homes in the project to accommodate a park. I am providing the land and paying for the cost of construction. The new HOA will pay for maintenance of the park. La Mesans will be receiving a free park at no cost. Attached is the park plan at La Mesa Summit Estates. Jeff Phair

Jeff Phair - The park plan didn't attach - please send it to me

so I can add it for our readers to see.  Thanks for sharing more information on this project, and it's good to hear that if it is built, there will be a park and that have been meeting with neighbors.  We look forwarding to hearing more about this project and sharing info with readers once plans are available.

Buy it for yourself

I agree with Tom.
Phair development owns the property.
If you have a better idea and millions of dollars make them an offer and come an agreement.
But if you think we, as the City of la Mesa, should buy it and leave it as open space or another park, forget it.
The City of La Mesa is in no position to do anything but approve this development and wait for the much needed property tax revenue to start rolling in.

I agree with Tom, too

The City of La Mesa actually has a fair amount of latitude on this - that's why it is worth thinking through both the opportunities and the consequences in the proposal. As the letter says, development and civic space are neither hostile not exclusive. Creative cities find ways to reconcile them for the greater good. But Tom is right. The question is whether La Mesa can summon the stewardship (political will) to bring both to fruition for the benefit of all.

Property Owner

Who owns the property and for how long? If those opposed can buy the land, good. Can the City of La Mesa afford to contribute to the purchase and is there the political will do do so?