The first public meeting of the Balboa Avenue Station Area Specific Plan will take place at the Pacific Beach Library Community Room on Monday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m.

The planning area surrounds the Mid-Coast Trolley Station proposed on Balboa Avenue and includes Mission Bay Drive, the neighborhood between Rose Creek and Mission Bay Drive and the area east of Mission Bay Drive to I-5 in Pacific Beach as well as area east of I-5 in Clairemont. This encompasses all land between Rose Creek in Pacific Beach and Morena Boulevard in Clairemont.

“The City of San Diego Planning Department is working with RRM Design Group and Circulate San Diego to engage the Pacific Beach and Clairemont communities to prepare the Balboa Avenue Station Area Specific Plan,” said senior city planner Michael Prinz. “The specific plan will guide the design of future development and identify streetscape and multi-modal improvements to enhance bicycle, pedestrian, and transit access to the planned trolley station.”

Prinz noted that the Pacific Beach Planning Group has formed a subcommittee to work with the Planning Department in preparing the specific plan.

“My initial conversations with Michael Prinz in the Planning Department have been promising,” said Henish Pulickal, group subcommittee chair. “Our communication has been good, and it seems he is sincere in the intent to listen to public opinions and concerns.”

The Dec. 7 meeting is the first in a series of public get-togethers launched by the City of San Diego Planning Department for community engagement to develop a land use and mobility plan for the entire area from Rose Creek to the future Balboa Trolley Station.

Balboa Avenue is one of nine trolley stops proposed for the Mid-Coast Trolley project that will extend trolley service 11 miles from Sante Fe Depot downtown to University City, ending at UTC, serving major activity centers including Old Town and two trolley stops at UCSD. Construction, costing approximately $2 billion, is expected to begin in 2016 and be completed in 2019. The trolley extension has been designed to provide a viable alternative to highway congestion.

The city has received a $787,000 state grant to begin developing a specific-plan area for the region surrounding the proposed Balboa Avenue Transit Station that would slice through Pacific Beach and Clairemont. The grant for the new station, which would be located just east of I-5 and south of Balboa Avenue, seeks to increase bicycle, pedestrian and transit access to the station.

Residents of Pacific Beach and Clairemont are being engaged to produce the plan and an implementation program that would address transportation demand, economic market analysis, urban design concepts and multi-modal improvement projects.

Longtime PB community planner Chris Olson is all in on planning for the new Balboa trolley stop.

“We have multiple planning projects coming to our community in the next couple years, and the Balboa Special Study Area is one of the huge opportunities to make improvements for land use and mobility right at the entrance to PB,” he said. “I think this is the time to dream big and plan this area as if we have a blank slate and we are looking into the future.”

Multi-modal improvements will be identified to increase bicycle, pedestrian and transit access to the station. The area has constrained roadways that could affect access to the future trolley station.

Existing land-use and community plans do not effectively address transit-oriented development or multi-modal access to the proposed Balboa Trolley Station. With the design process for the Mid-Coast Corridor Light Rail Transit Project under way, the service could serve as a catalyst for new Transportation Oriented Development uses near the station. Once devised and accepted, the Specific Plan will be implemented through Community Plan and Facilities Financing Plan amendments.

Group chair Brian Curry previously hailed the public vetting process for the Balboa Trolley Station as “a major step forward for local planning.” He added, “This transportation-oriented district is a critical piece of our long-term sustainable design plan for Pacific Beach.”

In 2013, several members of the American Institute of Architects’ Sustainable Design Assessment Team visited Pacific and Mission beaches and Mission Bay Park to collaborate with local planners on developing some concepts for making their communities more green and environmentally sustainable through creation of an eco-district.

Several major areas are being focused on in the eco-district formation, including community identity, urban design and sustainable infrastructure, economy and land use and transportation.

The Clairemont Community Planning Group will be forming a subcommittee in January that will serve the same role as the Pacific Beach Planning Group in the Mid-Coast Trolley planning process. The community outreach effort will also include online engagement and pop-up outreach events to seek additional feedback and dialogue.