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SAN Man Dec 13, 2021 2:30 PM

What are your thoughts on the $160 billion transportation plan?

My initial thoughts are that we won't get much at the end of the day. Like with everything else, most projects were probably greatly underestimated, also funding is on shaky grounds. Another thing, why would they make transit free in ten years? Isn't collecting some fares good for at least some things?

IrvineNative Dec 14, 2021 1:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SAN Man (Post 9474777)
What are your thoughts on the $160 billion transportation plan?

My initial thoughts are that we won't get much at the end of the day. Like with everything else, most projects were probably greatly underestimated, also funding is on shaky grounds. Another thing, why would they make transit free in ten years? Isn't collecting some fares good for at least some things?

100% agreed. Free transit for all is bad. MTS annual operating budget is $300 million; one-third of that comes from fare revenue. With all these new expansions and service upgrades, say MTS annual operating budget rises to $500 million, with $150 mil coming from fares. That's $1.7 billion/decade coming from fares that you'll throw out the window with free transit for all. Voters might approve of one half cent sales tax increase, but not three increases within a decade. If you make transit free, you'll be forced to cut down on service and cancel expansions. Even Portland eliminated their fareless square, likely because it drove up homelessness on their transit. World class subways, like Hong Kong, Singapore--they have 100% or better farebox recovery ratios, meaning no taxpayer subsidies are needed for operations.

On the rail transit portion, I'd cut out several things:

1. $2 billion+ central mobility hub. Renderings show palatial architecture and it's designed to accommodate the highly speculative CAHSR. Haven't we learned from the Transbay Transit Center that building a flashy new train hub for a train that is decades away (if ever) from being built is a huge gamble?

2. The segment of Commuter rail 581 from SDSU to El Cajon should not be built. El Cajon and Santee are especially NIMBY and car-centric. If they don't want rail, don't give them rail. They won't ride it anyways. Appendix A, page A-40 says Commuter rail 581 will cost $9.774 billion. Cutting 581 short at SDSU will probably save $2-3 billion.

3. Tram 555 (Balboa Park ring tram), p. A-19: Will cost $1.175 billion. Streetcars share lanes with traffic and are thus no faster than buses. Maybe even slower, because at least buses can switch lanes, while streetcars can't. Get some articulated buses if you want a circulator transit line. Also, how much demand is there really for a ring tram around Balboa Park?

4. Commuter rail 583, p. A-14: Will cost $7.581 billion. Goes from National City to NAVWAR and largely duplicates existing blue line. We could convert the segment from 12th/Imperial to Santa Fe Depot to a tunnel for around $2 billion--we already have the right of way. Green line trains would stop at Seaport, Gaslamp, Convention Center while Blue Line stations would be go nonstop from Santa Fe to 12th/Imperial. Would save 10-15 minutes travel time.

IrvineNative Dec 14, 2021 2:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will O' Wisp (Post 9468142)
I think it's proably irrelevant because a superior court judge just invalidated Measure E earlier today.

What about NAVWAR? Since it's federal land, it's exempt from city regulations, and therefore free from the 30-foot height limit, right?

Has anyone heard from Riverwalk in Mission Valley lately? They approved the plans last Nov. and were supposed to begin construction this summer, but their website simply says:

"The permitting process for Phase 1 of Riverwalk is underway. We anticipate permitting and design to last throughout the remainder of 2021. Construction work should begin in earnest in early 2022. Minor tasks like the potholing may occur between now and then, but we don’t anticipate much construction activity until early 2022. We hope to share preliminary plans and renderings within the next six weeks."

I'm afraid Riverwalk will just get dragged and dragged on to death and be in limbo.


I do have high hopes for SDSU Mission Valley, though. TODs along DFW's light rail have failed. But SDSU Mission Valley will be different. No parking minimums for the entire site, the fact that college students often don't have cars, and SDSU just being only 8 minutes away from the main campus by light rail, which is at least as fast as off peak driving to the main campus--SDSU is TOD with teeth. There'll even be showers and changing rooms in all buildings for cyclists! And universities never stop construction, even in recession.

Most US metros of San Diego's size would kill to have one $3 billion, outside of Downtown, light rail TOD megaproject. But San Diego is getting not one but TWO of these $3 billion megaprojects, in the SAME NEIGHBORHOOD. San Diego as a whole may be NIMBY, but not Mission Valley. Any neighborhood in the US with plans to triple its population and build two TOD megaprojects is YIMBY by any standard. SANDAG needs to increase Green Line frequencies soon!

IrvineNative Dec 14, 2021 2:17 AM

It’s crucial we build a automated people mover (APM) rather than extend the trolley to the airport. Sure, with a trolley extension all blue line passengers get a one-seat ride to the airport, while a APM requires a transfer. BUT trolleys would come to the airport only every 15 min. at best. That really sucks. People movers would come every 2 min.

(All wait times below are max wait times).

Say a people mover is built from Terminal 1 to Middletown Trolley station. You wait 2 min. for a people mover. Then at Middletown station, you'll wait only 3.25 min. for a train to Old Town or to Santa Fe. 5.5 min wait time in total. Because eventually you'll have both the green and blue lines running trains every 7.5 minutes each, per direction.

If you're going to UTC or San Ysidro, you will wait 7.5 minutes, because only the blue line goes to these destinations. Combined with the 2 min. wait for the APM, that's 9.5 min. total.

5.25 min and even 9.5 min. is still better than a 15 min. wait time. And remember, frequency is the number one factor behind transit ridership. Also, each minute spent waiting for the train is perceived as being longer than each minute spent actually riding the train. No wonder SANDAG's airport connectivity report projects 44K daily ridership vs. 14K for the trolley option.

It's also crucial that we connect the airport to Middletown station. The Port HQ is right next to Middletown and is offering their land to SANDAG for a transit station. If we connect the APM to the trolley only at downtown, then northbound travelers will have to double back. If we connect the APM to the trolley only at NAVWAR, then southbound travelers will have to double back. Middletown being midway between NAVWAR and Downtown, connecting the APM to Middletown will thus minimize the amount of doubling back for both northbound and southbound travelers.

aekrid Dec 14, 2021 6:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by IrvineNative (Post 9475594)

On the rail transit portion, I'd cut out several things:

1. $2 billion+ central mobility hub. Renderings show palatial architecture and it's designed to accommodate the highly speculative CAHSR. Haven't we learned from the Transbay Transit Center that building a flashy new train hub for a train that is decades away (if ever) from being built is a huge gamble?


4. Commuter rail 583, p. A-14: Will cost $7.581 billion. Goes from National City to NAVWAR and largely duplicates existing blue line. We could convert the segment from 12th/Imperial to Santa Fe Depot to a tunnel for around $2 billion--we already have the right of way. Green line trains would stop at Seaport, Gaslamp, Convention Center while Blue Line stations would be go nonstop from Santa Fe to 12th/Imperial. Would save 10-15 minutes travel time.

1. Would have been nice to have planned a commuter rail route that would share the HSR tracks all the way up to Murrieta. That way we could use HSR funds much sooner and alleviate traffic issues on the 15. Temecula and Murrieta have really become exurbs of San Diego so a commuter rail service with shared service with HSR, like what Caltrain and Metrolink are planned to operate would make the most sense.

4. Commuter Rail 583 would actually go through the heart of downtowns for National City and Chula Vista. While the current blue line has viable TOD options, it doesn't connect well to destinations or homes for either communities.

IrvineNative Dec 14, 2021 2:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aekrid (Post 9475751)
1. Would have been nice to have planned a commuter rail route that would share the HSR tracks all the way up to Murrieta. That way we could use HSR funds much sooner and alleviate traffic issues on the 15. Temecula and Murrieta have really become exurbs of San Diego so a commuter rail service with shared service with HSR, like what Caltrain and Metrolink are planned to operate would make the most sense.

4. Commuter Rail 583 would actually go through the heart of downtowns for National City and Chula Vista. While the current blue line has viable TOD options, it doesn't connect well to destinations or homes for either communities.

I believe it is Commuter rail 582 that goes thru Chula Vista. That's a good project. But look at A-16. There is a commuter rail line that basically parallels the blue line from National City to Old Town. That is totally redundant. Instead, upgrade current tracks/signaling so that the blue line can run from 12th/Imperial to Santa Fe on the current Green Line tracks. The Blue line could run nonstop every 7.5 minutes each way from 12th/Imperial to Santa Fe. The Green Line would also run every 7.5 minutes but stop at Gaslamp, Convention, and Seaport. This would easily cut down 10-15 minutes in Blue Line Travel.

Metrolink style commuter rail to Temecula does have merit, but it is very cheap to operate and build vs. the multibillion, largely tunneled, RER style commuter rail SANDAG is planning.

I also think SANDAG needs to focus on providing light metro like service in the dense core areas before expanding commuter rail to sprawling, NIMBY exurbs.

The redesigned purple line is good in that it is no longer running along a freeway median (LA's Green Line runs along the freeway and gets abysmal ridership as a result). Kearny Mesa does have great TOD potential.

But don't build the purple line as commuter rail with stops every five miles. With sparse station spacing, few people will be able to walk to the station. Instead, build it as a fully grade separated LRT line, with a station every 1-2 miles. Since the purple line will not be interlined, it could get frequencies of every 5 minutes, better than every 10 minutes with the commuter rail proposal. If you build the purple line with minimal curves, zero grade crossings, the LRT would actually be decently fast.

HurricaneHugo Dec 15, 2021 3:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mello (Post 9468863)
The Measure E ruling isn't final and I'm sure will be appealed if idiotic judge strikes it down. What is logic here SD is a major urban area so somehow allowing taller buildings in a section of a city need to be studied lol. Is being West of 5 some magical thing, look at UCSD it's going to be a mini city of mid rise structures and oh my gosh it's West of I-5... Somehow we will survive.

.

Update:

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com...idway-district

Not looking good

SAN Man Dec 15, 2021 2:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HurricaneHugo (Post 9476764)

It's behind a paywall, but from what I was able to gather from the headline, the court blocked development exceeding 30 ft in the Midway District. That's hard to wrap my brain around. Is it because of the close proximity to SAN or is because of the Coastal Commission? Or a combo of both?

IrvineNative Dec 15, 2021 3:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HurricaneHugo (Post 9476764)

Sad. Even though NAVWAR is inside the Midway district, it's federal land and thus exempt from the city's 30 foot coastal height limit, right? Assuming NAVWAR isn't stonewalled by NIMBYs, lol.

30 foot height limit is ridiculously low. Even sprawling, NIMBY Irvine has lots of five, six story apartments. Guess Irvine is more urban than coastal SD.

Ironically, if we had GOP governors, San Diego would get more TOD and more infill. GOP governors would reform CEQA faster and this anti-measure E ruling was supported by CEQA.

What's remarkable is that Measure E was not only approved by a majority, it got support even from the GOP, who typically tends to be suburban/anti-density/NIMBY vs. the Dems. Even more remarkable is that more conservative, NIMBY suburban areas like Scripps Ranch actually voted in favor of Measure E.

Midway aside, I really am looking forward to Mission Valley. A TOD avalanche is coming there and it's under construction now. MTS needs to upgrade Green Line frequencies, and the Green Line is already competitive with travel times on Friars Road. The ridership there will be crazy.

The only thing is, even though Mission Valley is YIMBY, it won't do us any good if California continues to have very slow population growth. Cleveland is YIMBY (no parking requirements at all in Downtown), but they have declining population, so they still have tons of parking craters in Downtown.

If only they could build a lot more TOD in NIMBY El Cajon and Santee...

Streamliner Dec 15, 2021 10:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SAN Man (Post 9477001)
It's behind a paywall, but from what I was able to gather from the headline, the court blocked development exceeding 30 ft in the Midway District. That's hard to wrap my brain around. Is it because of the close proximity to SAN or is because of the Coastal Commission? Or a combo of both?

At the end of the day, it's because local NIMBY's don't want their views blocked. The court case happened because of a lawsuit filed by those NIMBY's.

From what I gather, the legal reason the blocked it is because the proposition, or the affects of its passing, were not analyzed under the state's California Environmental Quality Act.

IrvineNative Dec 16, 2021 1:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Streamliner (Post 9477697)
At the end of the day, it's because local NIMBY's don't want their views blocked. The court case happened because of a lawsuit filed by those NIMBY's.

From what I gather, the legal reason the blocked it is because the proposition, or the affects of its passing, were not analyzed under the state's California Environmental Quality Act.

Correct. The 30 foot height limit is due to a decades old, voter passed law and Measure E would have exempted the Midway District from that height limit. Nothing to do with the FAA height limit.

Does the FAA height limit in Downtown have anything to do with NIMBYs? I doubt it, because if it did, the NIMBYs wouldn't want even a hundred foot building being built in Downtown, much less One American Plaza.

I will say, though, that in a fantasy world where US cities built new airports all the time (instead of just expanding existing airports), SAN airport would have been moved long ago to the suburbs. If we had a stronger, Seattle-like economy, and SAN airport was in the suburbs, San Diego would have a Seattle like, dense, enormous downtown, and that alone would do wonders for generating transit ridership.

You see, your metro area can be low density and sprawling overall and you can still get great ridership as long as you have lots of pockets of TOD and a highly centralized Downtown (like DC, whose suburbs make San Diego's look dense BUT has great ridership because of high Downtown employment and pockets of TOD density while San Diego is all just dense sprawl and Downtown SD is more residential than office space).

SAN Man Dec 16, 2021 9:29 PM

Thanks for the detailed response IrvineNative. Can you post a link to the SANDAG pdf? I did a search for it and only found a pdf with vague details. I'd love to see a map. I just heard today that MTS released some details on a Trolley connection to the airport via a tunnel at Hawthorn to the terminals. I haven't had a chance to look into it yet.

IrvineNative Dec 16, 2021 10:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SAN Man (Post 9478875)
Thanks for the detailed response IrvineNative. Can you post a link to the SANDAG pdf? I did a search for it and only found a pdf with vague details. I'd love to see a map. I just heard today that MTS released some details on a Trolley connection to the airport via a tunnel at Hawthorn to the terminals. I haven't had a chance to look into it yet.


SANDAG 2021 RTP Appendix A containing transit projects: http://sdforward.com/docs/default-so...rsn=fcc1fd65_4

The people mover connection to the airport will continue to be superior in attracting ridership unless MTS builds the proposed airport trolley to where you can have all day frequencies of 7.5 minutes or better. Unfortunately, SANDAG's airport connectivity analysis says that an airport trolley would have 15 minute frequencies at best vs. 2 minutes for a people mover. 15 minute frequencies is just... super inconvenient. So you might be spending more time waiting for the train than actually riding the train from airport to downtown. Very bad for attracting ridership.

Swamp MTS and SANDAG board meetings and demand an air rail link with 7.5 min frequencies or better!

Take a look at pp. 38-42 of the below PDF and you'll see the people mover option gets 40k riders while the trolley gets less than 15k:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sour...9VnSlZye-_y16R

And now take a look at the airport feasibility study on pp. 540-545 of the below PDF:

https://www.sdmts.com/sites/default/..._materials.pdf

You'll see that the proposed airport trolley line is interlined with the Green line. That's bad. The Mission Valley population boom is going to pour tons of ridership into the Green Line. Likely why SANDAG wants to increase Green Line frequencies from 15 minutes to every 7.5 minutes. The Airport trolley sharing tracks with the green line will make it much harder if not impossible for the Green Line to run through Downtown every 7.5 minutes.

Also, notice the pics for options 2 and 3. The junction where the airport trolley will split from the mainline will be very difficult to build as a flying junction. You know Baltimore Junction, where Green Line trains have to stop to wait for Orange Line trains to pass or vice versa? Thats because Baltimore junction is a flat junction, not a flying junction. Do you really want to make blue line/green line trains stop for airport trains? I don't think so!

Will O' Wisp Dec 17, 2021 12:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by IrvineNative (Post 9478224)
Correct. The 30 foot height limit is due to a decades old, voter passed law and Measure E would have exempted the Midway District from that height limit. Nothing to do with the FAA height limit.

Does the FAA height limit in Downtown have anything to do with NIMBYs? I doubt it, because if it did, the NIMBYs wouldn't want even a hundred foot building being built in Downtown, much less One American Plaza.

I will say, though, that in a fantasy world where US cities built new airports all the time (instead of just expanding existing airports), SAN airport would have been moved long ago to the suburbs. If we had a stronger, Seattle-like economy, and SAN airport was in the suburbs, San Diego would have a Seattle like, dense, enormous downtown, and that alone would do wonders for generating transit ridership.

You see, your metro area can be low density and sprawling overall and you can still get great ridership as long as you have lots of pockets of TOD and a highly centralized Downtown (like DC, whose suburbs make San Diego's look dense BUT has great ridership because of high Downtown employment and pockets of TOD density while San Diego is all just dense sprawl and Downtown SD is more residential than office space).

Oh boy, do we have a lot to talk about...

So first off, no the height limit doesn't have anything to do with NIMBYs. It's a standard federal rule that applies nationwide*. In fact San Diego pushes these regulations harder than any other city in the US, the FAA would prefer we keep everything under 150 feet.

Here's a diagram depicting the FAA part 77 surfaces. The FAA prefers nothing breach them, but in the event something does forbids it from exceeding 500 feet above ground level*.

https://i.imgur.com/euYKSvz.jpg

Here is a diagram of the FAA TERPS limits. If an object breeches these surfaces the FAA can force the airport to shorten the runway or even halt air traffic altogether.

https://i.imgur.com/Cp7yDEg.jpg

On the subject of airport relocation, I will just say that it has been tried before. I can go into much more intimate detail if necessary (as the other users of this forum can attest!), but this post is getting to long already...

*This is an oversimplification. As a federal agency the FAA has no authority over land use decisions. In California the 500 foot limit is enforced through Caltrans, which adopted this rule at the FAA's urging. Technically, the regulation states that Caltrans can approve a 500+ foot building after an aeronautical study, but they never have done so in the past and have indicated they will not in the future. A user in the forum is attempting to lobby them to modify this rule, so that the limits in the second image would be the only ones that apply. I wish them all the best, although I don't have a lot of hope for their success.

Will O' Wisp Dec 17, 2021 12:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by IrvineNative (Post 9478919)
The people mover connection to the airport will continue to be superior in attracting ridership unless MTS builds the proposed airport trolley to where you can have all day frequencies of 7.5 minutes or better. Unfortunately, SANDAG's airport connectivity analysis says that an airport trolley would have 15 minute frequencies at best vs. 2 minutes for a people mover. 15 minute frequencies is just... super inconvenient. So you might be spending more time waiting for the train than actually riding the train from airport to downtown. Very bad for attracting ridership.

Swamp MTS and SANDAG board meetings and demand an air rail link with 7.5 min frequencies or better!

The direct trolley connection is stupid and was only looked at because the old chair of MTS demanded it. She's now gone, but the option has kept shuffling through the plans like a feasibility study zombie. I wouldn't keep up at night worrying it might be chosen.

IrvineNative Dec 17, 2021 4:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will O' Wisp (Post 9479102)

So first off, no the height limit doesn't have anything to do with NIMBYs.

On the subject of airport relocation, I will just say that it has been tried before. I can go into much more intimate detail if necessary (as the other users of this forum can attest!), but this post is getting to long already...

Exactly. Unfortunately sometimes you see NIMBYs being the scapegoat for all development woes in San Diego. Now NIMBYs aren't good, but you can't deny that the FAA height limit (and San Diego's economy not having as much tech and corporations as Seattle) hurts downtown density a lot. And cities with employment heavily centralized in downtown like SF get much more transit ridership than cities that have puny downtowns like LA (hence why Caltrain's one line gets more ridership than all seven Metrolink lines combined).

As for San Diego not building a new airport... it ain't just a San Diego thing, no US city, not even fast growing Austin, is building an entirely new airport.

dl3000 Dec 17, 2021 6:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by IrvineNative (Post 9477061)
Ironically, if we had GOP governors, San Diego would get more TOD and more infill. GOP governors would reform CEQA faster and this anti-measure E ruling was supported by CEQA.

So...CEQA was signed by Ronald Reagan. It's a statute that doesn't require a huge government bureaucracy to implement and enforce and is settled in the court system for the benefit of people who can afford lawyers. One could argue the alternative would be something like the Coastal Commission on steroids. Pick your poison.

PS. Austin's airport opened in 1999 (one of the newest major civilian international airfields in the USA, technically a converted AFB), was planned for major capacity potential that they're planning to act on.
https://simpleflying.com/austin-airport-expansion/

Will O' Wisp Dec 17, 2021 7:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by IrvineNative (Post 9479280)
Exactly. Unfortunately sometimes you see NIMBYs being the scapegoat for all development woes in San Diego. Now NIMBYs aren't good, but you can't deny that the FAA height limit (and San Diego's economy not having as much tech and corporations as Seattle) hurts downtown density a lot. And cities with employment heavily centralized in downtown like SF get much more transit ridership than cities that have puny downtowns like LA (hence why Caltrain's one line gets more ridership than all seven Metrolink lines combined).

As for San Diego not building a new airport... it ain't just a San Diego thing, no US city, not even fast growing Austin, is building an entirely new airport.

In the last 50 years the US has only built two major international airports from the ground up. Denver International opened in 1995, and DFW opened in 1973. The amount of land necessary, the environmental requirements, and cost make it nearly impossible to build a new major airport in the US.

That said this isn't necessarily such a big deal. By most accounts the US vastly overbuilt its airport infrastructure in the 1940s-60s. Austin is in no danger of running out of airport capacity (although NYC and the Bay area might be unless several planned improvements to ATC are made).

San Diego is a special case though because the military claimed all the good spots for an airport, leaving San Diego with a tiny, single runway airport hemmed in by hills. This already limits international flights, and within the next decade or so our airport will reach capacity with no possible way to rectify the situation.

Here's a diagram, see the red line for a pre-COVID forecast of future passenger numbers. Post-COVID is still hard to figure at this point, but it is an inevitable process.
https://i.imgur.com/6hhILtE.png

Will O' Wisp Dec 17, 2021 8:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dl3000 (Post 9479347)
So...CEQA was signed by Ronald Reagan. It's a statute that doesn't require a huge government bureaucracy to implement and enforce and is settled in the court system for the benefit of people who can afford lawyers. One could argue the alternative would be something like the Coastal Commission on steroids. Pick your poison.

Most of the red states use NEPA or some some close variation thereof for their environmental review. NEPA is extremely similar to CEQA but with a couple of important differences:

1. NEPA only requires the proposers to produce a set of feasible alternatives, then chose one. You can reject a more environmentally friendly alternative on the basis of cost. CEQA requires the proposer to choose the "least impactful" alternative. If the cost of mitigation is too great, the project must be scaled down.

2. NEPA provides a list of potential environmental impacts that must be studied. CEQA says "anything effecting the environment" must be studied, and provides a list of thing that are not potential environmental impacts. The vast majority of successful CEQA actions are the result of complainers identifying a potential impact the project developers didn't think of, possibly because it had never been complained about before in any previous CEQA case.

3. NEPA sets a fairly high bar for a judge to issue a stop-work order, and violations usually result in (fairly predictable) monetary damages. Judicial stays are extremely common in CEQA lawsuits, and violations will require either the project be removed or environmental mitigation measures be implemented at an unknown expense (usually very high)

As you can see, CEQA environmental review can be a lot harder to predict than NEPA. It is much more effective at preserving the environment though.

I don't know of anywhere in the US that uses a "CC on steroids" for environmental review, although such things are fairly common in Europe. Americans really like their private right of action, they don't trust the government to protect them from environmental issues.

IrvineNative Dec 17, 2021 2:28 PM

^^^ Thank you, Will O'Wisp.

Which means ironically, if San Diego were a blue city in a reddish state that used NEPA, NIMBYs wouldn't be striking down Measure E successfully, and we'd get not only more sprawl but also a lot more infill TOD.

Not to mention likely a ton of corporate relocations to San Diego and a much accelerated Downtown growth. Which can happen even in a blue state like Seattle in Washington.

I mean San Diego has pretty impressive growth in Downtown and Mission Valley but it pales in comparison to Seattle, where Amazon and high population growth is really driving all that Downtown and Bellevue development.

I'm just astonished that slow-growing San Diego is building as much TOD as it is in Mission Valley.


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