Update on Lawsuit
Save Civita Will Appeal Ruling
Additional Funds Needed
February 13, 2020
An environmental lawsuit, regarding the October 2017 SD City Council approval of the road connection from Phyllis Place in Serra Mesa to Civita in Mission Valley, was filed on November 27, 2017. A 501(c)3 nonprofit Board, composed of representatives from Civita and Serra Mesa, sued to protect public safety in Civita and Serra Mesa.
Barbara Bry, San Diego City Council member, was the only one to vote against the freeway connector during the City Council vote in October 2017. Council Member Bry asked the Planning Department several times about the possibility of crosswalks for Via Alta and Franklin Ridge. Finally, the Planning Department admitted that crosswalks were not feasible. With that information, Barbara did not support a connector that would eventually direct 34,000 cars a day through Serra Mesa and Civita.
Lawsuit Ruling and Appeal:
On January 28, 2020, more than two years later, the San Diego County Superior Court ruled against the environmental lawsuit. The decision supported the City’s process.
In a January 31, 2020 San Diego Union-Tribune article, “Judge Rules For S.D. In Lawsuit Over New Connector”, it was stated that the road “…would allow developers to build more commercial projects and dense housing in Mission Valley by boosting overall traffic circulation there.”
Within the 60-day deadline requirement (approximately April 1) the Board will appeal the decision to the 4th District Court of Appeal. We’re concerned about safety for both Civita and Serra Mesa residents. An appeal is heard by three judges and takes approximately 18 months. The brief will be filed by December 2020 and will include arguments about the inadequate preparation of environmental documents and the bias of City Council Member Scott Sherman. * (more info below)
Reason For The Lawsuit:
If this freeway connector is completed, lives are at risk. Based on the City’s final environmental impact report, the 4-lane, 55-mph freeway connector will immediately allow over 23,000 cars daily (16 cars every minute) increasing to over 34,000 cars a day (24 cars every minute) through Serra Mesa and half-mile stretches of Via Alta and Franklin Ridge roads in Civita, a smart growth, densely populated residential community in Mission Valley.
These Civita roads are permanently flawed because the steep slopes and the curves of the roads prevent crosswalks or traffic calming from ever being installed. Because of the permanent flaws, these roadway segments are unsafe at any speed.
The roads were not designed in accordance with walkable, mixed-use, industry-standard practices for accommodation of pedestrians and regional freeway traffic and is not compliant with the City’s Council Policy 200-07 and the City’s street design manual.
A report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) validates our concerns. Available at iihs.org, the report states that pedestrian deaths have reached their highest level in 28 Years and that “pedestrian crashes have become both deadlier and more frequent. The increase has been mostly in urban or suburban areas, at non-intersections, on arterials — busy roads designed mainly to funnel vehicle traffic toward freeways.”
This freeway connector will also clog the only access road for many homes in Serra Mesa, creating a dangerous situation for emergency access and evacuation of that area.
The City, politicians, and large developers in Mission Valley argue that safety must be sacrificed for the “Greater Good,” stating the rest of the City will benefit from the connector by allowing more homes to be built in Mission Valley, a flow of regional traffic between I-805 and Mission Valley’s Friars Road, and a GPS short cut for commuters.
ADDITIONAL FUNDS ARE NEEDED NOW TO MOVE THIS APPEAL FORWARD.
Turn your concerns into action. Donations are tax-deductible. Donations can be anonymous.
If you prefer to donate by check: make it payable to Save Civita and mail to Save Civita, PO Box 23315, San Diego, CA 92193.
Thanks to all of you who have donated to this worthwhile cause!
*Actions of Scott Sherman:
City Council Member Scott Sherman actively campaigned in May 2017 to obtain support from the Mission Valley condo associations; Civita associations were excluded; the campaign began prior to meeting with the Serra Mesa Planning Group representatives. References to Sherman’s role are on pages 2, 5-6, 29-30 of Plaintiff’s Brief and pages 25-27 of Petitioner’s Reply Brief at http://www.serramesa.org/hot-topics/.
Sample quotes from the Plaintiff’s Reply Brief pages 29-30:
“In fact, as far back as May 2017, on at least one occasion, Mr. Sherman’s staff was offering to write the support letter for a group willing to support the Project.”
“Even worse, the day after the Planning Commission recommended approval of the Project on August 24, 2017, Mr. Sherman’s staff sent out an e-mail stating “[t]hank you to everyone who came to the Planning Commission Hearing yesterday and sent in letters of support! With your support, we had over 40 speakers in attendance and turned in over 50 letters in support of this Community Plan Amendment.”
“Mr. Sherman’s staff then urged supporters to attend future public hearings and sign an online petition in support of the Project.” “In light of the foregoing, by the time of the City Council’s public hearing on October 30, 2017, Mr. Sherman’s motion and vote in favor of the Project were a foregone conclusion. That his vote was already counted means the hearing failed to comport with the fair-hearing aspect of due process. Due process requires that all hearing judges be impartial.”
Inconsistency with Scott Sherman’s Concerns:
In December 2016, the long-controversial Regents Road Bridge in University City was voted down by San Diego City Council. The plan for a bridge that would attract regional traffic through a neighborhood was removed from the planning maps.
During the Council’s discussion, Council Member Scott Sherman said both sides in the debate made strong arguments, but that he believes the bridge could worsen congestion because smart phone apps would direct people to the new road.
An article published in the San Diego Union Tribune on 12/5/2016 titled, "Council deletes controversial Regents Road bridge from Planning Maps" includes the following quote from Sherman, “This road connector, I think, would take congestion off the freeways and put it through the neighborhood and we’d have one more congested neighborhood and we’d have a bunch of cars and a bunch of safety vehicles not going anywhere because they are sitting in traffic.”
This is the exact same scenario playing out in Civita. GPS programs will indicate that cutting through the residential community of Civita is the shortest route for cars to reach I-805.
Council Member Sherman showed great concern for the University City neighborhood and how that connector would risk safety and diminish quality of life, but showed no concern for his own constituents in the same situation.
For more information on the lawsuit and issues with The City of San Diego and Sudberry Properties, go to SaveCivita.com
Save Civita Website
Email Save Civita
What You Can Do
We need your financial support to prevent fatalities.
For those who have already contributed, we thank you, and encourage additional participation.
For those who have held back donating, now is the time to step forward.
Your donations will go towards attorney fees, expert witnesses and getting the word out to everyone about this potentially dangerous situation.
Resource Links FYI
Quarry Falls Specific Plan:
Lawsuit: Save Civita Because Sudberry Won't v. City of San Diego,
Case Number 37-2017-00045044-CU-WM-CTL
San Diego Superior Court – Central Division
Date Served: 12/5/2017 Date Filed: 11/27/2017
Information on the fight against the freeway connector: www.serramesa.org/hot-topics/
City of San Diego lobbyist website:
Disclaimer: The statements here reflect our organization’s opinions. We strive to provide the source materials that substantiate our views. Everyone is encouraged to review the source materials and do independent research before drawing any conclusions.
Photo depiction of life on Via Alta in Civita if freeway connector is built.
- Christine Kowalski
- Henry Johnson
- Richard Tanner
- Kevin McGrew