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Two Plans Urge Growth Limits for San Diego

Times Staff Writers

Mayor Maureen O’Connor and City Councilman Ed Struiksma on Wednesday unveiled dual plans to drastically restrict the rate of growth they say is overwhelming streets, sewers and other municipal services in burgeoning neighborhoods.

O’Connor’s proposal would scale back the rate of growth to population forecasts made in 1984, which would reduce growth by at least 60% in some northern areas. Struiksma’s more stringent measure calls for an immediate city-wide ban on issuing building permits while other control measures are prepared and enacted. Both O’Connor and Struiksma urged increases in developers’ fees.

Political Motives Seen

Stunned by the severity of the proposals, a building industry spokesman Wednesday night blamed the two plans on a political debate that “now has gotten hysterical and emotional.”

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“I think it’s obvious in this political climate that politicians seeking higher office or wanting to stay in office are trying to out no-growth each other,” said Kim Kilkenny, legislative counsel for the Construction Industry Federation.

The impetus for Wednesday’s political bombshells was a report submitted to the city’s Planning Department recently by Robert H. Frelich, the Kansas City consultant who helped draft the city’s original 1979 Growth Management Plan. That plan was designed to guard against Los Angeles-type sprawl by using building fees to encourage redevelopment in the aging inner-city neighborhoods, as well as orderly development in outlying areas.

In his April report, Frelich said San Diego is being threatened by unusually rapid growth--2 1/2 times faster than projected in 1984 by the San Diego Assn. of Governments. The forecast for growth last year was 12,000 housing units, but developers built 29,000, Frelich said.

“If this growth rate continues unabated during the two-year plan update period, there may be a serious and irrevocable detrimental effect upon the city,” Frelich wrote.

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Using Frelich’s report as a springboard, Struiksma called for the immediate building permit ban. He also proposed that the city place a referendum on the November, 1988, ballot to establish an annual quota for how many homes can be constructed in each neighborhood.

“I recognize this proposal represents a radical departure from our current policy,” Struiksma, who is expected to make a run for the mayor’s seat in 1988, told reporters. “However, maintaining our current posture does not give us the tools we need to resolve our problem.”

O’Connor later held a press conference to announce her own proposal, which will be presented to the City Council on May 11.


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