By JEFF CLEMETSON | La Mesa Courier
More housing is coming to La Mesa’s downtown area.
On Aug. 13, La Mesa City Council voted to approve Jefferson La Mesa — a mixed-use housing project between Baltimore Drive and Nebo Drive. Despite a large contingent of local union carpenters who spoke against the project’s plan to hire non-union contractors, and a failed motion to delay approval of the project that was only supported by Council members Colin Parent and Dr. Akilah Weber, the housing project’s approval eventually passed with a unanimous vote.
Jefferson La Mesa is a 230-unit project on 4.77 acres of property that most recently housed an RV sales lot and other auto industry businesses.
The project will consist of two buildings — a larger building along Baltimore and a smaller one along Nebo with ample parking in the middle. In total, the project will have eight studios, 138 one-bedrooms, 74 two-bedrooms and six three-bedrooms ranging in size from 553 square feet to 1,358 square feet. Ten percent of the units will be slated for very low-income residents.
The housing project will be gated and include amenities like pocket parks with a dog area and a swimming pool.
JPI, Jefferson La Mesa’s developers, will also make some public improvements, such as two new bike lanes along Baltimore, new traffic signaling, sidewalk improvements, a new median and new landscaping along Nebo. The developers will also invest in sewer improvements in conjunction with the acquisition of the city’s sewer pump station, which is located within the project boundary. As a condition of passing the project, the City Council also added a provision that JPI help pay for signage along Spring Street that will direct visitors to the city’s parking lot.
David Potter, vice president of JPI, praised the community and the city for input on the project.
“We did go to great lengths as a team to involve the community, meet with them on multiple occasions, both formally through community meetings and then more one-on-one to really make sure we were getting their input. We also worked comprehensively with staff on a number of things.” he said. “And I stand before you today to say I think the project is absolutely better based on that feedback that we received.”
Many residents who spoke on the project also commented on the relationship with JPI and the city in the process. Commander Jack Porath of the American Legion, which has a post building next to the project, thanked the developer for addressing the Legion members’ concerns and also for agreeing to help improve the post’s sewer issues and improve the post’s parking area.
There were some opponents to the project, however. In addition to union members speaking out against the developer’s plan to use contractors that hire non-union workers, some specific aspects of the project also drew criticism.
One resident complained that the project offered too much parking, arguing that a project situated so close to a trolley station should be less “auto-centric” and offer more units and less parking spaces. Another resident suggested that the bike lanes proposed for Baltimore Drive are inadequate because they are not protected.
Still, most residents showed support for the project that is to be built on the same property that the 18-story high Park Station was proposed for — a project that was met with fierce opposition by local residents.
— Reach editor Jeff Clemetson at email@example.com.