By Miriam Raftery
July 26, 2015 (La Mesa)—The City of La Mesa announced July 15th that the applicant for the Park Station Specific Plan has requested that the proposal not go forward to the City Council at this time. “The project is currently on hold,” the City’s public notice stated.
East County Magazine spoke with Bill Chopyk, community development director for La Mesa, on July 22nd. He confirmed that the applicant, Urban Housing Partners, has not withdrawn the project, nor proposed more changes. The applicant does not want to go forward to the City Council at this time because the project would likely not be approved.
The Planning Commission voted May 20th to reject the latest Park Station proposal, as ECM reported, though commissioners approved the environmental impact report. The proposal was set for the City Council to approve or reject, since the applicant was asking for creation of its own specific plan for the project that if approved would exempt the developer from the city’s height requirement, among other issues.
The original proposal of 190 feet in height had been dramatically scaled down to 75 square feet, among other changes proposed in the latest and third version proposed, as ECM reported. The project has drawn strong community opposition due to the height near the historic downtown village as well as traffic and other concerns.
The latest version of the mixed-use project included a hotel. However the City of El Cajon in the past month has approved moving forward on construction of two four-star hotels, a Marriott and a Hampton Inn. It is unclear whether the new competition may have factored into the decision to put Park Station on hold.
The San Diego Union-Tribune spoke with Park Station spokeswoman Lenette Hewitt, who said, “The Park Station team has decided to postpone the specific plan approval process to ensure that we have taken sufficient time to process additional input that has been received from the community. Additionally, as market conditions are constantly changing, the team feels it prudent to assess the current real estate market to reaffirm which building uses will bring the greatest benefit to the city of La Mesa and all of its residents.
The Facebook page for “No more than four,” a citizens; group opposed to Park station exceeding the city’s four-story height limit, posted this on learning the news: “Have they seen the writing on the wall that the community is overwhelmingly against this and it's time to stick to the current zoning?”
Chopyk says there is no time limit in the municipal code on how long an application can be left on hold. “If an application is getting stale, typically a year or so, the city would write a letter asking them to indicate their intentions or withdrawal,” he added. If the project is revived, public notice would be provided.