Alpine struggles with growing pains

All three agenda items at the Jan. 28 Alpine Community Planning Group meeting were less about planning for the com­munity and more about how to maintain the rural character of the Alpine as it moves into a new phase of growth.

Planning group Chair Travis Lyon updated the community on a proposed 1.9 acre development off Marshall Road slated for af­fordable housing construction.

Lyon said the group appealed to the County in December and informed officials they stood unanimously against building a three-story apartment develop­ment of 38 homes on a rural site. However, that appeal apparently did not sway officials from keep­ing to their plan.

“From what I understand there is no appeal to the plan­ning commission but I am going to pursue a CEQA exemption ap­peal,” Lyon said, and informed attendees he would provide an update as soon as he had more information.

The planning group also lis­tened to a proposal from Steve Mattia, who represents owners of the Shell Gas Station at 1130 Tavern Road, as he presented his case for approving a license to sell liquor in addition to beer and wine.

Lyon read an advisory letter stating “the San Diego County Sheriff opposes this modifica­tion” because there are two schools and a community center in near proximity as well as 11 other places to purchase liquor in the area; furthermore, the area is already viewed as a high-crime area.

After consideration, the group decided to heed the Sher­iff’s advice and did not approve the permit.

The bulk of the meeting was then spent going over public comments on a park slated for development on county-owned land adjacent to Wright’s Field.

A group of concerned resi­dents met with San Diego County Parks and Recreation officials in December under the name Preserve Alpine’s Heri­tage to little success.

A number of people addressed concerns the park does not fit the rural character of Alpine, saying it will destroy a native en­vironment through installation of sports fields and a paved park­ing lot, includes plans for items that already exist and go unused at other Alpine locations, intro­duces light pollution, breaks up the continuous landscape view of connecting Wright’s Field and other concerns.

Resident Valerie Hessen noted a 2019 San Diego county study that asked what Alpine residents wanted in a park showed the top five requests were multiple-use trails, biking, a dog park, nature-based play and picnic shelters.

The same survey, she said, showed little support for items like soccer or football fields, a skate park or community gar­dens, and she questioned the dis­connect between what residents asked for and what is being pre­sented to the community.

A handful of residents also spoke in favor of the park as planned, with the primary ar­gument that there are several parks for younger children but nothing for older kids who might like a soccer field, ten­nis courts or other maintained space.

“I believe the families in Al­pine need a nice place to go for picnics, walks, birthday parties, etcetera. The facilities and the parks we have currently just don’t have the qualities we need up here in this family-oriented community,” resident Amy Blake said.

After reading through almost two hours of written comments, Lyon said he too had concerns, namely community gardens in an area known for wildlife, bas­ketball courts that would du­plicate those already installed down the street at Joan Mac­Queen Middle School, and pro­posed barbecue pits.

“Jon Green put it very suc­cinctly, the benefits don’t out­weigh the risks,” Lyon said.

Ultimately, Lyon proposed to end discussion for the evening and pick up at a later date after consulting with the county.

He said he is waiting for feed­back from the county before announcing when the planning group will revisit the item.

Public comment will be accepted until March 5 and can be sent to: Regan Watt 5510 Overland Ave, Suite 310,San Diego, CA 92123 or  Regan.Watt@sdcounty.ca.gov

Alpine struggles with growing pains

1 COMMENT

  1. I have attended 2 meetings regarding the park development question. My impressions of the first meeting. There was a very motivated group that had a long wish list presented mostly by teenagers. I think a lot of the teens checked nearly every box on a list of possible development options. While teens should have input, their youthful judgment should also be considered. Alpine is not El Cajon or Santee nor do we want it to be. It is probably true that the majority of Alpine residents would like the Wright’s Field area to be left more pristine. Really folks, we don’t have to “develop” everything. That is what we love about Alpine. Natural. Okay, yes on parking, shade structures, picnic tables, toilets, groomed trails and maybe a small playground. Skate park? All wheel park? Prefer not.

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