Neighbors divided: Mesa’s new parking structure creates opposition

Neighbors divided: Mesas new parking structure creates opposition

The proposed location of new parking structure.

Lisa Smith

Proposition S was passed on Nov. 5, 2002, in order to raise $685 million for the San Diego Community College District. A large portion of these funds are allotted to Mesa College’s new parking structure.

The horrors of parking at Mesa College are an echoing inconvenience, sometimes taking more than 20 minutes to park your car during peak class hours.

According to Ed Cramer, Chair of the Linda Vista Planning Committee, although there is an overflow of vehicles at Mesa College during the first one to three weeks of the semester, after that time an average of 476 extra spaces can be found on Mesa lots.

Though these documented averages may prove accurate, the need for additional parking within Mesa’s boundaries is still generally agreed upon to benefit to the quality of life for Mesa students.

“Some initial problems facing the proposed parking structure for Mesa College is the exaggerated show of need,” said Cramer. “There could also be a lot better management of existing parking.”

Mesa College Police Lt. Jack Doherty disagrees.

“There is a need for more parking”, Doherty said. “Parking lot No.3 will be almost completely taken up by new buildings that we’re eliminating on campus. This parking structure is the lynch pin to other buildings being built here.”

The plans for proposed future construction can be found by visiting www.sdccd.com and clicking on the “Prop S” button.

According to Cramer, the initial amount proposed for the new parking structure began at around $10 million and has escalated to a staggering $31 to $33 million. Much of this additional cost is due to street renovation and surrounding geological preparation needed to make the proposed area ready for such a structure.

The area to be used is also the subject of controversy. The parking structure, to be built over Mesa College Dr. will be set amidst Kearny Mesa Park and the surrounding canyons that provide such a great view at that location.

“All kinds of things are complicating this,” Cramer said, “The question we’re asking is why can’t the structure be placed south of the stadium where there is adequate room and far less damage to the endangered habitat of the canyons?”

“The location mentioned as south of the stadium,” Doherty said, “is only about 100 feet or 200 feet north of its proposed position, “Some other areas were looked at but they didn’t make any sense. This location seemed to be the most reasonable. We had to take into account the vehicles driving in and out of the parking structure without congesting the college campus traffic. It wouldn’t have been as easy for all of this to take place had the structure been in the other proposed locations.”

“Additional problems have surfaced because of the deal that was made with those in charge of this project and the local park department. This has made it even harder for those opposed to make a compromise with Mesa’s project managers. If (the parking structure) were to be placed (south of the stadium) it would be closer to campus, making it faster for students to get to class, there would also be far less cost due to the already convenient set-up of the surrounding roadways there.”

Reaching a compromise as to the placement of the parking structure is not completely lost. According to Cramer, the University of San Diego parking lot’s original location was set to be in a different area altogether. After many complaints from local community members and shows of concern for the aesthetic pleasantness of the surrounding area, USD agreed to place the parking lot upon the campus’s adjacent hillside, making nearly everyone pleased by the lot’s new home.

“We do not want these canyons messed with” Cramer said. “Why there, why not compromise and use the land south of the stadium that is already totally district land. This would provide no need for the ecological upset and would still provide a pretty entrance for the school. Why put it where it will overlap the Kearny Mesa Park and destroy the habitat. Who wants to trade that for a damn concrete jungle?”

Due to the rising tab associated with the parking construction, among other problems, Proposition M will soon find its way to the Nov. 7 election ballot. This newest proposition contains a request of an additional $870 million of taxpayers’ money to be allotted to the projects that were underestimated by Proposition S.

Councilmember Donna Frye’s office, who oversees the 6th District where Linda Vista is located, was contacted for comment but would not go on the record.