Council Delays Vote on Canyon Development

The day before three of its members face primary elections, the San Diego City Council on Monday backed away from a controversial proposal to make canyons in Mission Hills and Hillcrest off limits to developers eager to build apartments and condominiums on steep slopes.

The matter was rescheduled for Oct. 14, despite a packed house of opponents willing to do political battle over the issue.

Considered one of the bolder steps to preserve canyons in older areas, the restriction seeks to prevent burgeoning growth in popular neighborhoods such as Hillcrest and Mission Hills from pressing into some of the city’s most pristine canyons.

Members of the Uptown Planners--the official planning group for the neighborhoods bounded by downtown, Old Town, Mission Valley and University Heights--have pushed for the temporary building restrictions so they can stave off a large number of canyon projects before they win approval on a permanent measure to keep the canyons free of development.

The moratorium takes aim at what proponents claim is inappropriate and outdated zoning, which permits what they say will be up to 108 apartment or condominium units per acre on the steep slopes. The measure would impose zoning that would allow only one apartment or condominium unit per acre.


Representatives of landowners blasted the proposal, saying it was like stealing their property. A group of them hired J. Michael McDade, former administrative assistant to Mayor Roger Hedgecock, to oppose the proposal.