The land use plans outlined in this report were created through the partnership between National City and the SDSU Sage Project during the fall of 2013. Upper-level undergraduate and graduate students in the Geography 572 course titled “Land Use Analysis,” taught by professor Diana Richardson, were given a project site in the National City Marina District for which they were to formulate a land use plan that they believed would be a sustainable, productive, and sensitive use for the site that is consistent and complementary to its surroundings.
The National City Marina District falls under the jurisdiction of several different entities; thus, students were required to identify the relevant federal, state, and local land use policies when considering different ways to best utilize the project site. Students had to comply with the National City General Plan, the Unified Port of San Diego’s Port Master Plan, the Harbor District Specific Area Plan, the California Coastal Commission guidelines, and the federal Endangered Species Act.
The projects were directly tied to goals set forth by the National City 2013 Strategic Plan and with substantial input by National City Staff. The Principal Planner, Martin Reeder, identified the three key needs of National City as job growth, tax generating commerce, and affordable housing. The students, organized into five groups, generated unique proposals to meet these needs while also applying concepts of sustainable design and smart growth in order to enhance connectivity between community, economic, and environmental goals.
Each of the five proposals addressed the nine elements that are laid out in the National City General Plan, which are a foundation for future development within the city. With land use as the umbrella element taken into consideration for all projects, students integrated course concepts to create a sustainable community with a complementary mix of uses. Additionally, the elements of community character, circulation, open space and agriculture, education and public participation, and sustainability were incorporated into site design considerations.
To meet goals of the community character element, many designs highlighted the maritime theme of the Marina District, which is one of the foremost industries in National City. Several paid homage to the history of San Diego, with one dedicating space to a museum filled with regional historic artifacts and information.
Similarly, changes to the site under the circulation element (i.e. transportation) were identified in the proposals. The groups formulated plans to create a more pedestrian-friendly area, with new commercial developments supplemented by trees and other green space. These proposals encourage bicycling and the use of other alternative forms of transportation, with most suggesting extensions to existing bus routes or a revitalized streetcar system to create a more accessible location.
National City and its residents are severely lacking in open space compared to the rest of San Diego County; thus, expansions of the existing Pepper Park and new green spaces were high on the agenda for these proposals. Community gardens were also included in a number of the projects to promote consumption of locally produced goods. One aspect of the site’s open space element is the adjacent Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. Because it is in close proximity to the project site, proposals took advantage of it as an educational opportunity for National City residents as well as to advocate stewardship of endangered wildlife.
The conclusion of this report highlights the most compelling designs and solutions to meet the needs of National City and work sustainable practices specifically into the National City Marina District. Proposals need not be adopted as comprehensive plans, but rather individual aspects from the varying plans can be implemented to ensure a bright future for the city and its residents.
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