A storm is brewing over the fate of Maple Canyon in Uptown San Diego. Seen from the sky, Maple Canyon is a small stretch of land reaching above the hustle and bustle of San Diego’s dense urban landscape.
Maple Canyon runs southwest from Bankers Hill to the outer limits of Little Italy. San Diegans can descend from the canyon to a popular hiking trail. Dozens of eucalyptus trees, planted in 1911 by Kate Sessions, guard the canyon as it runs underneath two historic bridge on First Avenue and Quince Street.
At the western end of Maple Canyon on Laurel and Union Streets, there is a small three-quarter acre parcel with two wooden houses, one of which is abandoned and boarded up. The City of San Diego owns the small piece of land, and the city council will be asked in January whether to approve a request by the Real Estate Assets Department to sell the land at market value.
Local residents, however, would like to see the parcel turned into a small park. The San Diego City Planning Department has told residents that the land is on too steep of a grade and is too small to make a proper park. In addition, there is no walking path connecting the parcel and Maple Canyon.
Because of these objections, the Planning Department has recommended that the City Council vote to sell the property to private developers. The vote is set to occur without much in the way of community input or very much public comment, which has angered Uptown residents. Uptown residents are now racing to file their objections to the sale and offer reasons why the parcel should be made into a neighborhood park.
Residents are particularly frustrated that the City Council is planning to sell the land considering that the parcel was classified as a “public open space” in the most recent Uptown Draft Community Plan Update. If the parcel keeps its designation as a public open space, it could be made into a public park and residents could start work on creating a footpath to connect the parcel to Maple Canyon.
The San Diego City Council, however, has other plans. Katie Keach, deputy chief of staff for councilmember Todd Gloria, the Planning Department made a mistake by putting the parcel on the list of potential open space. Keach said the decision was the result of a “mapping error,” which has since been corrected. As such, the parcel will not be listed as a potential park on the next Uptown Draft Community Plan Update.
Keach said the parcel will be designated as “residential-medium high,” allowing for the land to be used to build up to 29 new housing units. The coming decision to sell the property comes after years of requests by community residents for the City Council to set aside land for park space. A November 2015 meeting of the area’s planning group, Uptown Planners, voted to place a temporary moratorium on the sale of city-owned property. Community residents say the Maple Canyon parcel is their last chance to get a park in their area.
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(all data current as of 11/20/2017)
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