Community Council proposes higher density redevelopment around campus


Jeanette Giovanniello

The College Area Community Council discusses their latest report at a meeting on Nov. 13.

by Jeanette Giovanniello, Staff Writer

Local residents have ideas for major redevelopment within the College Area.

Members of the College Area Community Council have developed a plan to increase density in neighborhoods surrounding San Diego State. Their vision is to create a typical college town, calling for more restaurants, housing and transportation options.

The “College Area Community Plan Update Report” envisions coffee shops, bars and restaurants for students and the community at the intersection closest to campus, Montezuma Road and College Avenue. 

The report also calls for green areas, housing and commercial development at two additional intersections: El Cajon Boulevard. and College Avenue, and where El Cajon Boulevard and Montezuma Road meet.

If the plan takes effect, council members expect for it to modernize the College Area, increase visitors, and build a connection between residents and the university. 

Committee member Christina Boyd said this relationship is a key element of the report.

“It’s about developing an identity for this community,” Boyd said. “We have both students and residents at the same time, so how can we marry that to have a really unique community that’s together?” 

The report also highlights a lack of pedestrian amenities, a need for more transit facilities and a push for students to live in campus housing rather than residential homes.

The committee has previously addressed their issues with the College Area’s “mini dorms,” or single-family houses that are rented out to students. Council chairman Jose Reynoso says that it’s easier to manage a housing complex over a house, which are susceptible to complaints regarding noise, garbage cans and parking. 

“All these things are symptoms of the problem: an unmet demand for student housing immediately adjacent to campus,” Reynoso said.

The report’s solution is to create more affordable apartment and condo options for students and convert mini dorms into senior housing.

While the university has yet to weigh in on the community plan,  some students have thoughts on the report’s push for more apartments and condos adjacent to campus. 

Hospitality and tourism management junior Maria Crilly said upperclassmen seem to prefer to live in homes rather than apartments, especially in sight of SDSU’s Sophomore Success Initiative that keeps students in the dorms for their first two years. 

We already got the feel of the dorms and apartments,” Crilly said. “Now we’re supposed to learn to live in a house and grow up a bit, under our own rules and not the school’s. It’s preparing us for real life.”

Aside from university restrictions, Crilly also said she chose to live in a house because the rent is cheaper for her and her nine roommates.

“The apartments around us hike up the prices a ton, and I wouldn’t even be able to afford to live on campus,” Crilly said. “A reason we live in a house is because its cheaper split between all of us.” 

The council voted to approve the draft and put it on their website for public review before sending it to the City of San Diego’s Planning Department, inviting the possibility for revisions. 

If their vision is approved by the city, the College Area would become a hub not just for the students, but the families surrounding it.

“One of the key elements that we heard from just about every community group and every visioning session is that we need to bridge,” Reynoso said. “Bring the university out to the community, bring the community into the university. There’s a lot of concerts, games, events, so build it. Build a true community.”