Civic San Diego, the city’s nonprofit agency that oversees development projects, has approved proposed zoning that would create a downtown buffer zone between residential parcels and the industrial area that includes Solar Turbines. The measure is expected to be reviewed in January by San Diego City Council.

The zoning would prohibit residential and other “sensitive” land uses in an area encompassing approximately 12 acres of privately owned developable land within the northern Little Italy neighborhood. The buffer zone includes eight blocks located east of Pacific Highway, south of Laurel Street, west of Kettner Boulevard, and north of Hawthorn Street.

It also takes in the block bounded by Pacific Highway, Hawthorn Street, California Street and Grape Street.

The proposal stems from a 2012 dispute that arose after a developer proposed an apartment project for the former Fat City nightclub location, near Solar Turbine’s large operations off Pacific Highway.

Solar Turbines opposed the project, on the grounds that it would create conflicts between residential needs and the company’s local industrial operations. That development has since been converted to a hotel project under a new developer, which the city has approved.

According to a Civic San Diego staff report, the new zoning was proposed in an application it received in December 2012 from Solar Turbines. In March, the city’s Planning Commission directed staff to evaluate policies aimed at minimizing incompatible land uses and protecting existing core industries in the downtown area.

— Lou Hirsh