Saiko Sushi is another new addition to the burgeoning restaurant scene in North Park. We’re fans of the more casual Riki Sushi around the corner on 30th but it’s often either full or a wall of sound in there. There’s more outdoor seating at Saiko too:
The interior features this large mural but is otherwise mostly sports a clean and sleek look:
Bonus points for a good local craft beer selection and a wide range of sakes (I went with the former – old habits die hard). And the grilled eggplant and cucumber was a unique, excellent appetizer. It’s great to have another sushi spot in North Park, especially since Saiko’s concept and design differs from the more economical approach at Riki and North Park Sushi. Now if we could just get a sushi spot in Kensington… (or are we?).
A few changes are coming to Adams Ave in Normal Heights, including Burnside, a deli from the Sycamore Den folks a few doors down:
We hadn’t eaten at the Greek spot it’s going into in years, and Sycamore Den sure looks cool inside, so we’re looking forward to it. Can’t say the I Heart 92116 Facebook page agrees with that sentiment however:
Alexander Fazekas-Paul: Let’s hope the new place isn’t an overpriced hipster joint. As much as I like to see Adams Ave. blossom, I fear a lot of ill effects and end up being overcrowded like North Park has become.
Kevin Byington: Sorry, not excited for this place. It will be over priced and only bring more douchbaggary to our neighborhood. I want the old Ab-Normal Heights back.
Further west on Adams, near Sabuku Sushi, window signage for Hawthorne Coffee is up:
And east of 35th, signage for craft beer and taco spot El Tacon has been up for a while in the former Villa Del Mar location:
Last Tuesday evening saw gridlock downtown with the closure of 5th for the Mardi Gras celebration. For me it was the perfect opportunity to use my DecoBike membership after disembarking from the 150 bus from UCSD. After some trouble with the courthouse station on Broadway, I walked to the station just west of Horton Plaza, undocked and glided past the stuck drivers on 1st Ave. Meanwhile Jay parked in Golden Hill (there was little street parking downtown due to the festival) and grabbed his bike from near the police headquarters. We met in front of Petco Park, docked there and walked to nearby Table No 10 to celebrate our 15 years together. This photo doesn’t to justice to the interior; check our their website for a much more impressive shot.
I don’t usually order steak but their Steak Frites with Onions plate was cooked to medium-rare perfection. The charred octopus was a favorite too. With excellent service and food Table 10 is a significant upgrade over the former establishment at this location.
In Hillcrest, Pakistani/Indian restaurant House of Khan has opened in the former Mama Testa space on University… Local Habit on 5th is doing a reboot and will feature a new patio, rollup doors and a liquor license… Rip Current Brewing turned out to be a pleasant surprise over a couple of recent visits. I really how open it is to the street – you basically feel like you’re outside as the afternoon sun hits you. And the food from the Sublime folks in back, especially their fries, is better than you’d expect from a tasting room. I didn’t know much about Rip Current but after tasting their popular Lupulin Lust IPA, I can see why they’re popular up in north County. In fact all of their beers I’ve tried have been solid… If you’re in a healthier mood, Smooth Operator has opened next door with juices and smoothies.
- Representatives from The City Heights Community Development Corporation, Wakefield Housing & Development Corporation, St Paul’s PACE, and Studio E Architects presented preliminary information about the Talmadge Gateway Project at last week’s Kensington/Talmadge Community Planning Group Meeting (image from SD Uptown News/Studio E):
Unfortunately, the first question from the planning board wasn’t about the project’s amenities or planned tenant mix, but rather parking, which was deemed insufficient despite this being a reduced-mobility senior housing project. Other board members voiced concerns over parking in front of Talmadge residences, traffic and crime. Board chair David Moty voiced support for putting the project’s retail at the north end of the project, away from El Cajon Boulevard, because this commercial center is out of the “safety zone” for Talmadge residents. It was another reminder of the gulf that exists between the wealthier, older and largely white neighborhoods of San Diego and the more racially and economically diverse areas that represent the future demographics of our city. Personally I’m excited that this project could be the first of many mixed-use retail and housing projects along eastern ECB given its proximity to transit. It’s baffling to see such poor land use on so much of ECB – empty parking lots, single story buildings and used car dealerships – when the city faces such big housing affordability challenges.
– The Foundation For Form folks (You Got Mail, You Are Here) have purchased the building housing the Revivals thrift store on eastern University in Hillcrest. I never realized just how big this parcel is:
Given this news, I need to make a correction to an earlier post that identified the Baras Thrift Store site nearby as having development planned (oops). Interestingly, there’s an empty lot behind Revivals’ ample rear parking lot that appears to contain a couple of boats. San Diego is the least affordable city in the country due to its housing crisis, there’s been hardly any residential construction in Hillcrest for years – and yet there are still empty lots in the neighborhood housing old boats? Regardless, if their previous mixed-use projects are any indication, the Foundation for Form architects/developers will bring an innovative design and residential focus to this potential Hillcrest development.
Also coming up in Hillcrest: The Great Hillcrest Spring Clean, which takes place at 8AM on Saturday 2/28:
As always we will provide our colorful HTC Clean T.E.A.M (together everyone achieves more) t-shirts until they run out. If you have one from past Clean T.E.A.M events please wear it. Supplies will be provided.
Two starting points so you can join the neighborhood you want to help in:
(1) Hillcrest Shell, corner of Washington and fifth. Meet at 8:00am for directions. Will clean parts of the Medical District and Hillcrest Core.
(2) Heat Bar and Grill, at Park Ave and Essex St. Meet at 8:00am for directions to clean East Hillcrest.
“TALKING TRASH” happy hour will follow at Hillcrest Brewing Company (1458 University Avenue) sometime between noon and 1pm.
THE GREAT HILLCREST SPRING CLEAN is sponsored by the Hillcrest History Guild, the Hillcrest Business Association, the Hillcrest Town Council and the UCSD Medical Center Hillcrest.
– Waterfront Park has been a big success, but ever try to walk from there to the bay front across Harbor and Ash? What better place to put a high-speed turn ramp (instead of a standard 90 degree right turn) than between our pedestrian-heavy bay front and new family-friendly park. I crossed it recently and the pedestrians had absolutely no idea if they had right-of-way, because there is no visible crosswalk signal. And bonus points if you’re in a wheelchair, because this intersection isn’t ADA-compliant. John Anderson documents this intersection, with photos, in his excellent post, “Pedestrians as Safety Hazards”. Fortunately this and two other intersections on Harbor will receive pedestrian improvements shortly (h/t to Tyler).
– San Diego has been named the least affordable city in the U.S. due to its high housing costs. Voice of San Diego recently did a story on the city’s housing crisis, soliciting suggestions on how to tackle problem; increasing inventory via density was a recurring theme. So it was interesting to see that many metropolitan statistical areas that are have fewer people (and are more affordable) built significantly more multi-family housing in 2014 than San Diego. The metros are Charlotte, Denver, Minneapolis, Nashville, Orlando, Portland, and Tampa. By comparison, Seattle, whose metro population is just a bit larger than San Diego, issued three times as many of these permits. And with support from a majority of Seattle residents, the city is repurposing storage of private vehicles on public streets with bus-only lanes, bike lanes and micro-parks. Buses can move far more people than single-occupancy vehicles, so why not give them priority? Meanwhile in San Diego, businesses along El Cajon boulevard fought the removal of any street parking for the Rapid bus there, which must share a lane with solo drivers. As a result, the “Rapid” bus runs no faster than the prior bus service there.
– Bankers Hill Community Group meets tonight to discuss a Complete Streets approach to the SANDAG bike lanes proposed for 4th and 5th Avenues, while voting on a “Petition for a safer Sixth Avenue to be presented to Uptown Planners for their approval and to submit the petition to the City of San Diego to study traffic calming on Sixth Avenue”. Recall that Uptown Planners Chair Leo Wilson “strongly opposes” a road diet that would increase pedestrian safety on 6th Ave, because fast auto flow is more important. He’s also filed a lawsuit to remove the city-installed buffered bike lanes on 4th and 5th… Recent news that the city’s parking districts have $18 million in unspent funds has prompted a call for ideas on how to spend the money, and whether the funds should continue to be restricted to parking-related items only. February 27th is the deadline to get your suggestions in for 1) the Fiscal Year 2016 Parking District budgets (contact Uptown or Downton parking districts) and to 2) Todd Gloria’s office for changing how meter funds can be spent.
– DecoBike is up an running, so we put our memberships to use last weekend and rode around downtown’s dense station network. Apart from some challenges with undocking the bikes, the system and bikes are easy to use, and we fielded lots of questions from people asking about the program and its cost. As someone who’s had a bike stolen, it’s a great feeling to walk away from your bike and not worry about it.
We started off at the new Meshuggah Shack at the forthcoming Quartyard in East Village:
…ate some really good sandwiches at Rare Form near the ballpark:
…noted the construction at the bay front Marriott that includes the new pedestrian path to the harbor (here’s a rendering):
…and grabbed beers from the new Bottlecraft location – they’ve moved up India to just across the street from Ballast Point in Little Italy:
Then we finished up back at one of the stations with ample docks next to Petco Park. These should come in very handy this season, especially considering all the off-season moves the Padres made to improve the team.
Hi Paul, just want to clear up a few things since 99% of what you “reported” in your blog is inaccurate. I have been open about my identity as a founder of Care About South Park since we issued our first press release on November 11th requesting transparency from Todd Gloria about the South Park TargetExpress project. Mark Arabo is not a spokesperson for Care About South Park. He is the President and CEO of the Neighborhood Market Association. We are aligned in our opposition to a TargetExpress coming into South Park but we are independent organizations. Care About South Park is speaking out on behalf of the many people in the community who oppose the TargetExpress due to the negative impact it will have on our neighborhood and Mark is speaking out on behalf of his members, whose independent businesses in and around South Park will be negatively impacted by a corporate chain.
Not that it’s at all relevant, but you have not identified my current employer accurately. I won’t bother to correct you, because as a homeowner in South Park, I’m entitled to want to protect the neighborhood in which I live regardless of where I work. The one thing you did copy and paste correctly was the “gem” about me shopping at Target but not wanting one in my neighborhood. Let me explain the logic behind that. Mission Valley and Sports Arena are both well-established commercial areas that are densely populated with corporate chains. When purchasing a home in San Diego, I specifically chose not to buy in these areas because I personally don’t want to live in a dense commercial zone. And that’s not a slight against people who do. We all have preferences and choices. And if the residents of Mission Valley or Sports Arena wanted to oppose yet another chain opening in their neighborhood, I would support them and certainly wouldn’t expect them to give up their fight so I could personally shop at said chain. Again, everyone has a right to protect the neighborhood in which they live. The TargetExpress will only be 18,000 sq feet whereas the average full sized Target is over 100,000 sq feet. South Park residents will still have to drive to Mission Valley and Sports Arena to get things that the TargetExpress won’t carry. I, and many of my neighbors, on the other hand will never shop at another Target store again if TargetExpress comes into South Park.
What our neighborhood wants and needs is a grocery store and there was and is one who is interested that would be a perfect for us. However, we have been lied to by Mr. Hirmez, who stood up in front of members of the community at the Greater Golden Hill Planning Committee meeting on October 8th and told us that he wanted to retire and Target was his only option because no other grocery stores wanted the space or could afford the improvements needed to the building. So if you want to add some new and interesting information to your blog, perhaps you should research that story and report back with some facts that have actually been corroborated beyond a simple Google search.
I appreciate Sabrina taking the time to respond to my post and would like to address some of the points she made:
1) “I have been open about my identity as a founder of Care About South Park since we issued our first press release on November 11th requesting transparency from Todd Gloria about the South Park TargetExpress project”.
When I heard about Care About South Park, I went to their website, which to this day still doesn’t identify anyone associated with the group. I wasn’t aware of any press release. It’s hypocritical for a group to demand “full transparency and accountability” from Target (who have met with Todd Gloria’s office and have addressed community concerns over products/services offered) while not even saying who makes up said group on their site. Why not list the organizers – is it just Ms. DiMinico? – or the hundreds of people and businesses who have signed their petition?
2) “Independent businesses in and around South Park will be negatively impacted by a corporate chain.”
Most of the independent businesses in South Park don’t carry the same items as a TargetExpress (TE), but rather niche items, like unique clothes and funky gifts. Grant’s Market probably has the most goods overlap, but it also has a very popular deli. Their Yelp page mostly features reviews of the deli’s food offerings, not their grocery items.
I do agree that big box stores like Walmart have an extremely negative impact on main street businesses. They even leave inner-suburb stores vacant to reduce competition as they follow the sprawl. But TargetExpress isn’t a big-box store that you drive to in the exurbs – it’s an oversized drugstore on main street. It will complement and strengthen the surrounding business community instead of drawing shoppers down to Mission Valley. Their Minneapolis location is part of a new 300-unit mixed use development. In fact, the TE small-store concept is in response to the trend of younger people moving to urban neighborhoods so residents can be closer to the store instead of driving 15 minutes away – which Ms. DiMinico would force South Park residents to continue doing.
3) “I don’t want to live in a dense commercial zone”.
And you won’t after TargetExpress opens either – South Park will still be the same, just with a TargetExpress instead of a failing grocery store. Also, I’m guessing most residents of the Sports Arena commercial zone didn’t willingly choose to live there, as Ms. DiMinico implies. They live there because its scattered apartment housing among the meth-making hotels is what they can afford. I’m sure they’d love to live in South Park, but those residents largely oppose any new housing – including a project that was planned for this same Gala Foods site.
4) “And if the residents of Mission Valley or Sports Arena wanted to oppose yet another chain opening in their neighborhood, I would support them”.
Somehow I don’t see CASP folks standing on Sports Arena Drive with a “No More Chains!” sign when the next Jamba Juice opens there. Statements like these are a stretch (to say the least) and are a cover for the ugly motives involved: liberal NIMBYism, snobbery and elitism. And to suggest that Mission Valley residents are cool with all of South Park driving in to pollute and congest their neighborhoods, simply because they already had commercial areas, is condescending.
5) “South Park residents will still have to drive to Mission Valley and Sports Arena to get things that the TargetExpress won’t carry“.
Probably true, but they’ll certainly be making those trips less often since TargetExpress will carry many of the items they do need. Yet for Ms. DiMinico, not one drive out of South Park can be sacrificed because her corporate-free neighborhood lifestyle requires every one of these wasteful trips. Does she gas-up at the dreaded corporate 7-Eleven next door to Gala Foods for those Mission Valley Target runs?
6) “What our neighborhood wants and needs is a grocery store and there was and is one who is interested that would be a perfect for us“.
Claiming to represent an entire neighborhood is certainly bold, but there are plenty of residents who want a drugstore too – which is what TargetExpress (TE) basically is. And why not just tell us who this perfect grocery store is? Is it national chain Trader Joe’s? National chain Whole Foods? Because I think residents would be just fine with these stores, despite having the same corporate classification as Target.
If South Park residents oppose a private property owner leasing out to the business of his choice, then offer to purchase the property from the owner. Or don’t support the business, and it will go away. While I completely support their right to protest (I’ve done the same with Urban Mo’s planned demolition of housing they own for a parking lot), thinking they control whom private property owners rent to is delusional.
If I lived in South Park, Target wouldn’t be my first choice for this location for a number of reasons. Their labor practices are Walmart-like, they gave money to an anti-gay organization, and they tried to lay off all their Canadian workers with no severance pay. And I agree with CASP’s complaint that money spent there leaves the community in greater numbers than at local merchants. But TE will provide essential household goods to South Park that are unavailable there now.
It’s 2015 – why are we still labeling our neighborhoods as residential vs “commercially dense”? Mix these uses in urban neighborhoods like South Park, which are well-served by alternative transit options, and you’ll end up with a lot less vehicle miles travelled. Opposing TE because they’re a corporation is mostly an excuse for the real reasons: competition concerns from rival markets, traffic, and complete disregard for other communities.
The Jonathan Segal project at Robinson and Park has a name (Mr. Robinson) and a sign showing what it will look like when it’s complete:
The rendering reminds me a bit of Segal’s project on India Street in Little Italy. Mr. Robinson is among the first residential projects in Hillcrest since 2008, which also happens to coincide with the introduction of the Interim Height Ordinance there. This project isn’t affected by the IHO due to its location on Park, and it should exceed the IHO’s 65 foot height limit given that the rendering shows 7 stories on one side. Because discretionary review by the community is not required, Segal chose not to present the project to the neighborhood, and I don’t blame him. His son Mathew explained last fall that community planning group meetings are largely attended by residents who oppose any development because of parking impacts. And sure enough, that’s exactly what a Hillcrest resident says in this clip about the project: no one else should be allowed to live in Hillcrest because parking. Remember, this is the first sizable mixed-use project in Hillcrest in 6 years, so there’s been hardly any new housing since then.
I’ve had some interesting exchanges with folks on the Hillcrest Business Improvement Association Facebook page (not the official HBA page) about the housing issue. First, they say no new housing should be built because it won’t be affordable. If you suggest reducing minimum parking requirements to reduce cost, they say parking is more important than housing. Mr. Robinson had to dig out expensive underground parking to meet the city’s minimum parking requirements, despite five bus lines (including the new Rapid
235215 to downtown) nearby, and a DecoBike station across the street. These costs are part of what makes the units so unaffordable. And yet it’s still not enough parking to appease residents. Perhaps they should read this.
Another Facebook freakout ensued over the sale of the Baras thrift store on University at Normal:
These are real people who want to decide the future of Uptown. They’ve declared that they got there first, their parking is more important than housing for others, and they’re fighting like hell to keep anyone else out. Can you blame developers for ignoring them whenever possible?
The market features locally-grown produce from a farm near Ramona, imported goods from Spain, and soups, salads and paella to go. Nearby, La Marque has been serving up Moto Roasters coffee since November.
In Bankers Hill, several new mixed-use projects are on the way, including Orchid-award winning architect Lloyd Russel’s 4th Avenue Lofts. The article also mentions this project set for 5th and Palm, where Extraordinary Desserts is currently located:
74,000-square-foot Fifth and Palm will combine a 145-unit multifamily market-rate rental building with a 66-unit extended-stay hotel component. The two towers will be a maximum 150 feet tall, with 37 spaces in three levels of underground parking.
Bourbon Street and Lei Lounge have closed and will re-open as a new, non-gay concept by one of the owners of Waypoint in North Park:
While the usual suspects in our gay community blamed the lack of parking for the closure, there are plenty of successful spots along this strip of University Heights (Plumeria, Small Bar, Lestat’s) regardless of the parking situation. I think it has more to do with the changes both in the neighborhood and in our culture. We have gay friends in University Heights, but they’re in their 50’s and don’t go clubbing. The demographics of any new people who can afford to move there are likely much different than the primarily gay and lesbian residents who turned the neighborhood around two decades ago. It seems a gay club doesn’t really reflect the direction of the community anymore. And on a larger scale, gays and lesbians are no longer limited to just gay establishments as discrimination decreases. Finally, many gayborhoods are simply being priced out of existence as housing and commercial rents increase, and older residents largely oppose any new inventory of either.
Down Park, we made it to S&M Sausage and Meat, drawn in by the sleek bar and CityBeat’s wing week:
Pork wings in a root beer balsamic were as delicious as they sound, as was my vegan Italian sausage (I’ve forgotten the ingredients) and Jay’s cajun chicken sausage. The restaurant was very busy, much more so than we can remember at Gulf Coast Grill. It also felt like they knew what they were doing – ideas like putting in our order out front, then using signage on our table to let the server know if we needed anything, worked well. The owners’ considerable experience with their Slater’s 50/50 establishments showed.
Another place with prior restaurant experience that’s new to the area is Swamis in North Park:
From the efficient ordering process, to the huge variety of coffees, to my dairy-free pancakes (yes!) it all just seemed to work. And I’ll never get tired of indoor/outdoor spaces like these as we enjoyed yet another 75 degree January weekend day. Another one in this category is the new Streetcar on 30th which I mentioned in an earlier post, but this time I’ve included a picture of the cool interior:
A lack of outdoor seating was one of the reasons cited for the recent closure of Alchemy in South Park, as the patio fills nightly across the street at Buona Forchetta, and Hamilton’s expands next door. Alchemy will be replaced by a vegan restaurant from the brains behind the LOVELIKEBEER events, (with help from the Craft & Commerce folks) and add patios… According to the North Park Facebook page, San Diego Soup Shoppe on El Cajon will be getting two new neighbors: a second Cafe Madeline (first location is in South Park) and a beer/burger place, The Barn… And last but not least, Good Life Eatery has moved into the former 30th Street Cafe on 30th in North Park.
Preservation alert: the owners of the church next door to the Irving Gill-built chapel on 30th in North Park are offering $10K to anyone who will move the structure. Contact me for more information (thanks to John Anderson for the photo):
Here’s some photos of the new Pan Bon Italian market/restaurant in Little Italy, which looks (and tasted) great but still needs to work out a few kinks regarding their confusing ordering flow:
While I’m on Little Italy, I was asked to give a shout out to the Happenstance co-workspace there, near the new Bird Rock Coffee Roasters… Finally, the YMCA on El Cajon Boulevard had its grand opening today. I can’t express how thrilled I am to have a 10-minute walk to an outdoor pool I can swim in on warm winter days like yesterday (these pictures are from last weekend however):
Another thing I like: they have a front door that faces the sidewalk:
YMCA’s Mission Valley and Kearny Mesa locations have zero interaction with their streets, so this is a great change. Now if the CVS down the street could just follow suit; their street-facing door has long been sealed off (likely due to theft), forcing pedestrians to enter via the parking lot.
We stopped by the BLVD Food Market on El Cajon Blvd Friday night, where several food vendors and a live band were set up in the parking lot of the Heart and Trotter strip mall at Utah. This isn’t your typical strip mall – on this night, several of the businesses were open late, including a mattress store with art for sale. One of the highlights among the booths was Jordan Hannibal’s 5150 Nut Butter (I’m now hooked on their cookies and cream flavor). Unfortunately it looks like Heart and Trotter still has a ways to go before opening their space. And since their booth already was out of food two hours into the event, we walked up 30th to Chris’ Ono Grinds, where we enjoyed their tasty Kahlua pork and barbeque chicken dishes. They have Fall Brewing on tap so we headed up the street to that new brewery next and were surprised to see the place was nearly full:
Who knew there was still demand for even more breweries in San Diego? It was the same story down 30th where the new Rip Current brewing (and its food joint in the back, Sublime) was also packed. In fact, nearly every business along this northern stretch of 30th was busy – Streetcar, Ritual, Nomad Donuts, Toronado. Compared to a few years ago, North Park is definitely stretching out.
– Also in North Park, the building formerly housing Undisputed Gym has been sold at 3038 University. Given its size, it could be an ideal spot for an organic market or similar, but some have brought up the lack of parking at the site. Yet when we travel to other large cities, plenty of people shop at markets without the need for parking out front – perhaps they just shop more often. I know that’s a foreign concept to most of San Diego right now, but does that mean it can never change, even as North Park continues to become more city-like?
– In South Park, the anti-TargetExpress group, Care About South Park, have finally revealed themselves (they demand “transparency” from Target yet hadn’t previously identified their members), and one of the group’s spokespersons is Mark Arabo. While CASP purports to be a community group, Arabo is the head of the Neighborhood Market Association, which understandably does not want a Target to compete with. Yet CASP purports to speak for the community, not grocers. Arabo is also known for leading the fight against the plastic bag ban, despite 20 million tons of plastic going into our oceans every year.
“I shop at Target,” DiMinico said. “But we don’t want a Target in South Park.”
While DiMinico criticizes the traffic that a tiny Target would bring to South Park, she has no problem contributing to the congestion and pollution in other, lesser neighborhoods that host giant Targets. Wouldn’t the residents of Mission Valley prefer that South Park residents shop at their own Target? In fact, a TargetExpress in South Park that uses the existing Gala Foods building (I’d be opposed to a giant Target with a huge parking lot) will enable locals to walk, bike, take the bus, or take a shorter car trip to get household items unavailable elsewhere in the neighborhood.
Any successful store is going to increase traffic in South Park compared to the failing Gala Foods. Instead, DiMinico would rather produce more greenhouse gases and road wear by forcing her neighbors to drive to Mission Valley.
– Speaking of GHG’s, a recent headline in the Reader about proposed development near transit in Grantville caught my attention:
Plan for Grantville population boom – Count on more noise, traffic, greenhouse gas emissions
The article is about the environmental impact report for the planned 8725 dwelling units over the next several decades in Grantville. Given the huge need for housing in San Diego, it makes sense to put it near the trolley where some vehicle trips will be replaced by trolley rides. Since those units are going to get built somewhere in our region regardless, wouldn’t this project produce less greenhouse gas emissions than pushing that growth to say, Murrieta and its resulting 60-mile commutes? Pushing growth to the exurbs is exactly what’s been happening as NIMBY publications like the Reader promote no-growth policies. Voice of San Diego also has a good writeup on the planned development in Grantville, where traffic and parking concerns are once again more important to many than our city’s housing affordability crisis.
– Community planning groups draw up the community plans that guide how we’ll live in and get around our neighborhoods, and the plans are currently being updated for the next few decades. One example is the College Area Planning Group, whose existing community plan calls for widening College Ave from four to six auto lanes. CAPG is fighting a proposed bike lane on College Avenue (more on that below) because they feel it will prevent the above widening, despite there being no funding for the hundreds of millions of dollars in demolition and reconstruction costs that would be required for the SDSU campus as a result.
Having attended several community planning group meetings, our neighborhoods’ futures are largely being determined by established residents with older mindsets, primarily concerned with keeping any new housing out of their community. Meanwhile the region’s housing shortage, affordability crisis and hourglass economy worsens. These residents largely oppose any infrastructure devoted to alternative modes of transit, despite younger Americans increasingly using these modes, their own future need for them, or the city’s Climate Action Plan that increases bike and public transit mode share.
If you oppose this cars-first planning approach for our city, and instead think we should plan for the needs of all residents, Circulate San Diego is hosting a panel discussion on how to join a Community Planning Group on January 28th at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
– Circulate SD also put on a fun event with the help of RideScout in Pacific Beach recently at the Java Earth Cafe, A Night of Short Stories: From Point A to Point PB. With the trolley coming to near Pacific Beach, the event was meant to highlight the project and get people thinking about their experiences on public transit. Five speakers told riveting and/or funny transit tales, and we especially enjoyed the story of a hung-over American tourist vomiting his way through Paris.
– I met with Robert Schultz, Vice President of Real Estate at SDSU recently regarding the proposed College Ave bike lanes that are part of the South Campus Plaza mixed-use project there:
The project will house 600 students and include ground floor retail. Bike lanes that were added to the project at the request of the City of San Diego to mitigate the impacts of the new development by employing a Complete Streets approach (the project also widens sidewalks for the significant pedestrian traffic there). I was surprised to hear that the city may kill the same lanes they suggested, because they have performed an auto level of service analysis that shows increased congestion. Bob explained that while there have been suggested changes to using LOS at the state level, it’s still fully in charge here in San Diego (this was also confirmed at a later meeting I had to UCSD). Further, a traffic engineer with the city asked SDSU to perform a 95th percentile traffic queue length study. The city’s Climate Action Plan, which seeks to increase bike mode share to 18% in communities like the SDSU area, was never brought up.
It sounds like different people within the city have different missions, and the result is that Complete Streets policies are nearly impossible to implement. (An aside: an email was forward to me from a Portland State faculty member who was looking for examples of mid-rise developments near San Diego college campuses that connect the campus to the community. Amazingly, there don’t appear to by any near our three major universities). I understand that state policies take a while to filter down to municipalities, but it would be beneficial to have a more unified approach from the City instead of the contradictions that prevent Complete Streets.
While the College Ave bike lanes face challenges from within the city (and offer a fascinating case study on how hard it is to implement Complete Streets in San Diego), let’s not forget the vehement opposition from local residents, who may seek legal action to prevent them. Their vision of a six-lane College Ave, which is in stark contrast to the alternative transit modes being used by younger San Diegans (the trolley reduced annual parking permits by 6000 at SDSU, and they’re trending downward yearly), means that bike lanes and widened sidewalks simply aren’t an option for College Ave, ever. And this is in a neighborhood that lacks any real safe bike facilities at all for a large student population. If you support bike lanes on College, please email council member Marti Emerald at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents also oppose the size of the student housing building, yet they also complain about neighborhood houses being turned into mini-dorms as a result of insufficient student housing on campus. Insufficient parking is another sore spot, yet College area residents benefit from the city’s cheap residential parking permit program ($13/year; no significant increase in decades) that city taxpayers subsidize to the tune of a few hundred thousand dollars every year.
– I also met with Robert Clossin, Director of Physical and Community Planning at UCSD recently. UCSD and the UC system have a “robust” sustainability policy in place, so I was confused when UCSD supported the proposed I-5 widening that will increase greenhouse gas emissions. This widening is part of the SANDAG 2050 transportation plan that has been thrown out in court twice now, for exceeding state greenhouse gas goals. So Robert and Catherine Presmyk in the same office met with me to clear things up.
Here are the transit projects coming to UCSD:
Robert explained that UCSD only supports the direct access ramp from the new carpool lanes onto campus, and cited the buses they will bring onto campus. Unfortunately this distinction was not made in any of the article I read indicating UCSD’s support for the freeway expansion. Also, I’m unable to find any mention of planned bus routes for the new lanes. Assuming the lanes will be like those on I-15 where solo drivers can pay to use them, the lanes will simply enable faster access to campus for wealthy North County residents, while not providing a robust public transit alternative to taking the Coaster and waiting for a shuttle to campus.
Speaking of the Sorrento Valley Coaster station, one benefit of the Genesee Avenue widening project shown above is that it will include a new bike path to the Coaster station from campus. On the negative side, despite the Genesee bridge being expanded, there was only room for a painted bike lane, not a buffered or protected one. This is also the case for the new Gilman bridge over campus.
One bright spot are the trolley stations coming to campus; the west campus station will include bike lockers, a public gathering space, some potential retail, and a new walkway connecting to the Price Center. Another positive is the plan to replace some of the Mesa housing at the southeast corner of campus with new multi-story buildings, including micro-units for graduate students. This would also have the potential to connect with the businesses across Regents Road there.
Overall however, UCSD remains largely isolated from its surroundings, especially the businesses and residences on the south side of La Jolla Village Drive. While there is a pedestrian bridge, LJVD is practically freeway-like and dangerous by design to pedestrians and people on bikes. UCSD has taken positive steps to create village-like settings on campus; it would be great to see them connect with villages off-campus too, as other colleges are doing around the country.