The Updated Poway Road Specific Plan

What is the updated Poway Road Specific Plan and why will it unleash a lot of new development on Poway Road?

On December 5th, 2017 the City Council adopted a set of zoning changes along Poway Road that are generally referred to as the updated Poway Road Specific Plan.

The updated PRSP made a few major changes to zoning that will encourage development along the Poway Road corridor.   In addition to these changes, it put a cap of 1148 new dwellings on the entire area.  This was a theoretical reduction from 2000 units, but the zoning changes make it much more likely the full number of units will be built.

This is my understanding of main changes to the zoning rules for some districts:

Increased allowable density from 20 dwelling units/acres to between 24 to 35.  This means instead of being able to build 20 condos or apartments per acre you are allowed to build as many as 35, which is almost double.  You have to provide certain community ‘benefits’ to get to the highest density level, but these benefits are not very demanding nor are they very clear, so most developments will be able to achieve the maximum density number.

Doubled the number of stories (floors) allowed along Poway Road from two to four.  This is probably the most significant change and, when combined with the increased density, it increases the economic viability of all sorts of development along Poway Road.

Increased maximum building height from 35 feet to 40 or 45 feet depending on a the side of Poway Road you are building on. This change fits hand-in-glove with the increase in the number of floors that may be built.

Decreased the required number of parking spaces from 1.5-1.75 to 1.25 for single bedroom units.  Additionally, guest parking requirement can be satisfied by on-site commercial parking from the commercial portion of the mixed use development.  It is estimated in the EIR that this is a 20% or more reduction in the required parking from the previous development rules.

Taken together, these changes are poised to lead to an explosion of development along Poway Road.  We already see over 300 units being proposed, including the Outpost, the Meridian-Sudberry project and the development on Poway Bowl parcel.  More are sure to come.

My biggest concern is with the relaxed parking requirements.  Without sufficient parking people will park on streets in front of other people’s homes.  Additionally, I see no plan for additional recreational resources and amenities to accommodate the massive increase in the number of residents, nor do I see any means for financing those amenities.

This represents poor urban planning. At the very least, I would put a builder fee in place that could be use to fund additional park space, walking paths and other amenities.

Yes, there are some good elements to the updated PRSP. The first project is very promising as the developer is creating two floors of underground parking at great expense.

But, if allowed to proceed unchecked and without better urban planning I think ultimately this will harm the quality of life of the residents in this area.  I also suggest that people take out a map and think about were the remaining 700-800 units might go and then consider whether this cap is too generous and if it should be reduced to an even lower number.

The updated PRSP is a major change for Poway.  Getting it right is one of the most important decision facing Poway for the next ten year or more.

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