Jonathan Segal’s The North Parker is coming to 30th and Upas, and here’s a rendering out of the San Diego Business Journal (account required). The project includes 4 retail suites totaling 6000 square feet, 27 2-bedroom rentals, and office space that will house Segal’s architecture firm. The design is reminiscent of Segal’s black building on India Street in Little Italy.
Over in Kensington, demolition work has begun on the gas station at Marlborough and Adams where Kensington Terrace was planned until the market cratered. Looks like the project has undergone a name change to Kensington Commons; about all you’ll find online is this structural info page and a lease listing promising 7 retail units totaling 10,000 square feet. As a Kensington resident who’s watched Normal Heights blow up the past few years I’m looking forward to some more dining options around the corner.
On a related note, we made a return visit to Polite Provisions and it has to rank up there with Blind Lady Ale House as The Best Thing to Ever Happen on Adams (At Least Since We’ve Lived Here). There’s nothing nearby that rivals the unique interior they’ve put together, from the beautiful marble bar, to the detailed standing light fixtures, to the large vertically-folding windows. And you’re not going to find a better selection of amazing cocktails in the neighborhood either; new rum-based offering “Beach House” was another dangerously tasty offering. Having just watched Flight I’m concerned PP is going to turn me into Denzel Washington’s character.
Elsewhere: El Take it Easy has been reincarnated as Hubcap; while it’s already open, the official Grand Opening is Thursday May 9th. Grass-fed burger and a pint of Saint Archer all month for $15… Eater says BBQ 81 is coming to the
former original Pomegranate spot on El Cajon Boulevard… And more restaurants have been named for the Police Headquarters project downtown: Seasons 52 and Jimmy V’s.
Another chapter was added to the epic Plaza de Panama saga last week with Mayor Filner’s new proposal to close Cabrillo Bridge on weekends and restrict weekday traffic to the southwest corner of the plaza. The plan, detailed here, would free up the majority of the plaza as a gathering place for pedestrians, complete with landscaping, movable chairs/tables, and access to the fountain there. The bridge closure is set for late next month; handicapped spaces will move to the Alcazar Garden lot and valet parking will retreat to the “secret” lot behind Casa de Balboa.
Rather than rehash the details of a plan already discussed elsewhere, it’s worth noting the improbability of this scenario. Who would have thought that Irwin Jacobs’ plan for Plaza de Panama, which involved substantial sums of donated money, concrete, and chutzpah, would be rejected? Certainly not the city council that voted for it; the city attorney and council president that sought to re-write the city charter to nullify the plan’s loss in court; the Republican mayoral candidate funded by Democrat Jacobs after Democratic mayoral candidate Filner opposed it; the wealthy newspaper owner who repeatedly editorialized for it; the former mayor who helped hatch it; nor the park institutions who put their own financial interests over the citizens of San Diego who partly maintain the park with their tax dollars. With the Jacobs plan finally out of the way, Mayor Filner stepped in with a modified version of the Stepner-Blackson plan and 1989 Master Plan, one that emphasizes flexibility and testing. It’s an amazing contrast to the my-way-or-the-highway approach from Jacobs, who seemed oblivious to the damage his auto-focused plan inflicted on the park.
Reaction to the mayor’s plan by the Balboa Park Committee and the audience in attendance last week was largely positive. One notable exception was committee member Michael Hager, head of the Natural History Museum and author of a particularly misleading Voice of San Diego op-ed supporting the Jacobs plan, which included this gem:
Yet this exciting opportunity has been marred by the opposition of a small group of people who would derail any public improvement that doesn’t meet its narrow definition of purity.
Reacting to Filner’s proposal, Hager bemoaned the move of valet parking from its current prime location to the “not very pretty” lot behind Casa de Balboa. It was a revealing moment – Hager’s more concerned about the scenic backdrop for wealthy visitors’ valet service than the quality of the park experience for the rest of us.
In response, Mayor Filner suggested marketing the museums to pedestrians and cyclists in addition to drivers. Here’s one marketing idea: museum discounts for anyone who rides the park tram (new trams ordered for the Jacobs plan arrived this week). That could bring in visitors who weren’t otherwise aware of the variety of institutions in the park.
Another complaint cites increased traffic and parking in Bankers Hill on weekends due to the bridge closure. As others have said, both Golden Gate and Central Park close on the weekends, so why should San Diego be any different? Do the rights of Bankers Hill residents to find easy street parking outweigh those of all the visitors to the Park? From VOSD:
Bankers Hill residents have long feared that shuttering the Cabrillo Bridge would crowd their neighborhoods with cars. William Hamilton , who commented on Facebook, is one of them:
For those of us who live immediately west of the park in Bankers Hill, I can’t say I’m delighted by the idea of closing the bridge to traffic. It will make parking in our neighborhood horrific on the weekends …
Bankers Hill is located between the vibrant neighborhoods of downtown and uptown, next to the “nation’s largest urban cultural park”. Why would residents expect street parking to be plentiful? If you want the amenities of a large city, one sacrifice is often cheap parking. There are plenty of quiet suburbs in San Diego featuring vast free on-street parking; perhaps Mr. Hamilton would be happier there.
Besides, there are parking options on the west side of the park. Re-stripe the western streets/lots in the park for more parking. Reduce 6th Avenue to one lane in each direction with angled parking. Place signage on the west side of the park with directions to Park Blvd lots and park access. Put QR codes on the signs so folks can import the directions to their smart phone mapping apps. Long-term, build a parking garage at Inspiration Point with tram service.
Speaking of costly projects, it wouldn’t hurt to consider alternate sources of funding for the mayor’s plan. Remember, Todd Gloria rejected Filner’s prior request for funds to study this plan, and on this and other issues he’s favored his own political advancement via campaign contributions over his constituents. So, how about a fundraiser to do the landscaping right in the plaza (and across from the Museum of Man while we’re at it)? Sell engraved bricks/pavers in the plaza, or start a civic crowdfunding project.
As someone who pouted over the city’s approval of the Jacobs plan for months I understand how emotions can run high over the city’s crown jewel. Let’s hope the mayor’s plan proceeds successfully while remaining flexible to suggestions and change.
April’s the month where outdoor events really get going again in San Diego. This past weekend featured Balboa Park Earth Day, Taste of Hillcrest and City Beat’s Festival of Beers in North Park. Next weekend brings Adams Ave Unplugged, Mission Federal’s Art Walk in Little Italy, and the Creek to Bay Cleanup throughout San Diego. It’s like the city waking up from a long, mild, winter hibernation. .. followed up by an extended nap through the pending May gray.
Things are pretty lively indoors too, with a bunch of new establishment announcements. San Diego magazine reports Alex Thao (Celadon, Rama, and briefly, Chow) is opening Lucky Liu’s, a “classic Chinese” place just down the street from our miniature Chinatown on 4th downtown. It’ll be open until 3AM and serve Dim Sum on weekends; tentatively opening in July. Dim Sum in downtown San Diego? That’s something different.
Eater brings the excellent news that Ballast Point is opening a tasting room and mini-brewery (5-barrel system) in northern Little Italy that will serve as a testing grounds for new recipes. With Bottlecraft just down the street that’s one more reason to hit up this part of NOLI.
Speaking of breweries, Modern Times Beer met their Kickstarter goal of $40K to take their operation to another level with a killer tasting room, aged barrels for sour beers, and lab equipment for yeast development. Then they topped it off with a pledge to donate $2K to bikesd.org if they reach their next goal of $52K, which they’re closing in on. I know Jacob from MT is serious about making San Diego an even better place to live for when we choose not to drive, so it’s great to see ideas like this.
That reminds me of the Transit San Diego folks, who are also more interested in improving our quality of life instead of our vehicle flow rates. While I was disappointed to see they’re opposed to SANDAG’s plan for long-distance Bus Rapid Transit, I do admire their reasoning – that BRT out to North County only promotes sprawl, and that we should focus on light rail in the city core instead. While I’d love to see North County empty out and downtown/uptown soar with higher densities (not a sentiment shared by everyone), it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon, so why not give these commuters a transit alternative?
Regardless of what happens with BRT, back in uptown there’s a sense that things just keep getting better. Successful new businesses are opening left and right, and I’m seeing more cyclists and pedestrians on the roads and sidewalks every weekend. Positive developments like the Hillcrest shuttle and the CicloSDias walk/bike event in August are signs that many uptowners are looking beyond their cars to get them around the vibrant neighborhoods they live in.
A few days back I saw this tweet about a proposed public transit-adjacent project in Highland Park, near Pasadena. The project would put 80 units onto existing parking lots next to the Gold Line:
The project in question is the Highland Park Transit Village, and while it looks like an abomination of architecture, that’s a separate issue from the main reason for local opposition. Any kind of growth that results in increased density is forbidden; plus, “they’re going to take away our parking”.
LA has been making huge advances recently in expanding public transit (see their 30/10 plan that performs 30 years of construction in 10 years, a plan completely contradictory to SANDAG’s vision for our region) and building smart-growth mixed-use residential/commercial projects along these lines. When you think about it, there isn’t much choice for LA – they’ve sprawled themselves into a traffic-choked nightmare, and where is the future growth going to go – the Mojave Desert? The only solution is to increase density wisely throughout the city, along existing and new transit lines. San Diego, sprawled from sea to mountains, from Camp Pendleton to Mexico, isn’t much different at this point.
Unfortunately there are a lot of people who are unwilling to increase density in their neighborhoods to accommodate this type of smart growth. They got there first, they enjoy the convenience of their auto-based life with the best amenities of the city, and they’re not going to make it more inconvenient by allowing more people in their neighborhood – especially if it means sacrificing precious parking. But you can’t really say that at a town council meeting, can you? So instead, you begin coming up with absurd statements like the one above.
Just to be clear, an “open space” is typically a park, a “green space”, or a natural environment free from development. It’s definitely not an asphalt-covered parking lot where all non-human life has been paved away. So how do you justify calling it an open space? By saying that a mixed use development will replace “open space” (air?) with a physical structure – you know, where people actually might live:
@markvalli also posted a NIMBY flyer that decries the loss of parking, addition of traffic (even though it’s located next to a public transit line), and addition of crime. Comments on a Patch.com article say the project will turn into “public housing” eventually (i.e., more crime).
I understand that some residents in a near-transit development are going to use autos, maybe even exclusively. But clearly some percentage of their trips will be on public transit, and each one of those is one less car on the road or in a parking lot. Shouldn’t we address the needs of younger and empty-nest folks looking for residences in communities with alternative modes of transport?
Highland Park isn’t in San Diego, so why write about it here? Because the open space argument was used by a commenter on this blog a while back regarding a failed mixed-use project (also sporting some awful design) proposed for the Gala market and parking lot in South Park:
Residents love the open space of the lot and usefulness of the parking, the convenience, and the grocery store. It’s a gathering place, an open space, a hub. The community will never allow packing in 60 units, up to the curb line.
Well, we drove by that “gathering space” last Friday night at 9 PM and the only things gathered in that vast lot were a handful of cars, an attendant waving a wand for $5 parking, and a whole lot of unused, empty asphalt. Far from “hubs”, parking lots are the antithesis to a community’s walkability, and making cities walkable is arguably one of the strongest contributors to making them livable (check out this summary of Jeff Speck’s excellent Walkable City). And what’s wrong with having units up to the curb line? This presents a much more interesting walking landscape than a sea of asphalt and parked cars, for sure. I guess it’s all those balconies and windows ruining the “open space”.
Opposition to smart growth is alive and well in San Diego. This Bankers Hill resident opposes removing just one of three north and southbound lanes in his neighborhood (with several north-south alternatives) for a bike lane because of all the traffic that increased density will bring. The resident wants to see no new development, and/or parking minimums increased. Yet increasing parking only promotes the use of more cars, when we should be focused on increasing transit options in the neighborhood – which, to be fair, the resident said is insufficient. The comment was in response to downzoning uptown neighborhoods (which was mostly rejected last week, except for Mission Hills) until we find funds to increase “infrastructure” to support increased density. Infrastructure can mean a lot of things, so I’ll dodge that one before this post goes on forever.
If we can’t increase density in Bankers Hill, smack dab between downtown and Hillcrest, where do we put future growth? NIMBYs don’t have an answer for that question, and frankly don’t care. So it’s not going to be easy to move forward with smart growth, but I hope the desire of younger folks to reduce our dependence on autos eventually wins out. Unfortunately, I think we have to give up on ever convincing many older folks who have lived an auto-based lifestyle and can’t comprehend that more people in their community might not always mean more cars.
- While we’re on the subject of parking lots, it was funny to see bayfront San Diego make the Streetsblog Parking Madness contest for worst parking lot expanse in a US city’s downtown, because many of the lots cited are currently being removed for the County Admin Waterfront Park or the North Embarcadero makeover. I biked by the former a few weeks back and took this picture of progress on Phase 1, where the 250-space underground parking garage is being built on the south side of the property:
Looks like the underground parking on the will only be one floor – due to water table issues? Regardless, it was encouraging to be able to report progress on this one.
This post is from guest blogger David Lupica, who owns and writes for 365sandiego.com, and the fan page “365 things to do in San Diego” with 42,000 fans. Thanks David!
Adams Avenue is the safer, trendier, El Cajon Boulevard. Or maybe El Cajon Boulevard is the maniacal, gonzo, acid-frenzy induced, insane Adams Avenue. Either way, they’re both quite an adventure. Every San Diegan needs to take a few days off per year to stop in and investigate the ins and outs of these “yellow brick roads,” each leading to their own interpretation of “Oz.”
Take the red pill. See how far the rabbit hole goes. It’s not a question of which is better or worse, but what mood you’re in, and whether your boss will understand why you missed work on Monday, or why you’re quoting Hemingway in the stairwell on your lunch break.
Adams will lead you from University Heights, along the canyon through a million cute little antique shops, into Kensington, and finally Normal Heights. Coffee shops, pubs, book stores adorn the street, and I must say, I ALWAYS have a great time, and meet super laid back, fun, conversational people along this path. If I could put Normal Heights on the beach, I’d build a fortress around it and defend her to the death. But I guess it wouldn’t be Normal Heights. It’s one of those towns you know you could live your whole life in and be totally satisfied, if you were ready to embrace satisfaction. For me personally, I’m only ready to visit for the weekend.
Formerly known as the Roots Festival, “Adams Avenue Unplugged” is happening again on Saturday and Sunday, April 27th & 28th, 2013. This event is one of the hugest live music festivals in San Diego, and it’s free to the public. Most of the artists are acoustic based, and the genres range from jazz to bluegrass to blues and everything in between. Here’s a link to the line-up so far: http://www.adamsavenuebusiness.com/Adams-Avenue-Unplugged.html
Come see some local live music from over 180 different musicians and enjoy the tasty food from hundreds of local vendors, and meet some really cool people. There’s always a really cool poster for this event too. It’d make a great full body tattoo. Does anybody know the designer? Ok I’ll see you guys there. It’s basically the ENTIRE street so you can’t miss it.
Adams Avenue Unplugged
Adams Avenue between University Heights and Kensington Heights
April 27th and 28th
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