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San Diego Approves Mixed-Use Game Plan To Boost Housing in High-Traffic Enclave

First Development Update for Mira Mesa in 30 Years Aims To Reduce Pollution, Promote Walking in Large Employment Hub

San Diego officials are looking to encourage more mixed-use projects with housing in Mira Mesa, where commercial properties largely consist of strip malls such as Mira Mesa Marketplace. (Photo Via CoStar)

By Lou Hirsh CoStar News

December 7, 2022 | 8:05 AM

San Diego City Council approved a long-range neighborhood development plan calling for more mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly developments and fewer strip malls in Mira Mesa, among the city’s largest population and job centers.

The city has updated plans for the high-traffic neighborhood in northeastern San Diego for the first time in 30 years, with an eye toward adding 24,000 homes and capacity for 5,000 new jobs over the next 20 to 30 years.

Mayor Todd Gloria said plans approved 5-0 by the City Council should also increase capacity for much-needed affordable housing while helping the city meet climate action goals including reducing vehicle emissions.

“As one of San Diego’s largest communities by land area, population and employment, Mira Mesa will greatly benefit from having more mixed-use areas where people can live, work and play,” Gloria said in a statement Dec. 5. “The plan adopted by the City Council today will allow for just that.”

A city staff report said Mira Mesa spans more than 10,000 acres with a current population of about 78,000. The neighborhood’s commercial development during the past 30 years has consisted largely of strip malls catering to customers arriving by car.

Changes to the neighborhood plan include development of more mixed-use projects that combine retail with residential and office components, along with more neighborhood-serving parks. The updated plan also calls for increasing new housing capacity by 24,000 or 71% above the capacity envisioned in 1992, to reach up to 58,000 units over the next three decades.

The neighborhood currently has 26,800 market-rate housing units, and another 305 deed-restricted units designated as affordable housing, the staff report said. Officials noted about 45% of Mira Mesa is within a half-mile of a public transit stop, and plans are in the works to give developers incentives to create mixed-use developments that are self-contained and also add elements like bridges over busy roads to promote walking.

Officials said Mira Mesa is among local neighborhoods that can help the nation’s eighth-largest city boost its affordable housing as the state of California looks to address a serious housing shortage created by low construction levels over the past two decades. The new development blueprint is supported by groups including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and Building Industry Association of San Diego County.

Mira Mesa has been among San Diego’s most active neighborhoods for apartment development during the past decade, according to CoStar Market Analytics data as of Dec. 6, with projects including the 2,000-unit Casa Mira View near Interstate 15.

The newly approved development blueprint is expected to add more high-rise, mixed-use projects in other parts of the neighborhood not directly adjacent to the freeway. Large commercial properties are likely to be rezoned to include high-density residential components, noted Joshua Ohl, director of market analytics for CoStar Group in San Diego, in a report on the neighborhood.

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