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Category: housing

Little Italy Food Hall

Little Italy Food Hall

The Piazza della Famiglia project in Little Italy opens next month, and by summer it will take a cue from Liberty Station’s hugely successful Public Market concept by including a food hall. The hall will include two Public Market vendors, Wicked Maine Lobster and Roast Meat & Sandwich Shop. A food hall makes sense given the large number of sit-down restaurants already in Little Italy, and you’ll be able to bring your meal into the open-air public piazza:

While public squares are commonplace throughout European cities, this is the first of its kind for San Diego, where we’ve long dedicated most of our public space to moving and storing vehicles. Given the piazza’s likely success (Little Italy is doing pretty well), could this spur other urban communities in San Diego to rethink how they allocate space in their commercial districts?

Here in Kensington, where the Heart of Kensington residential group killed a public space in front of the Kensington Commons project, we’ll just settle for a new restaurant in the long-vacant Kensington Vine space.  Tanuki Japanese will be a “coffee bar by day and a sake bar and eatery by night”, according to Eater. This is just around the corner from our block. With the opening of Kensington Brewing and Pappalecco in the past year, it’s great to have more walk-to options in the neighborhood.

Tickets are nearly sold out for next Saturday’s Modern Times Carnival of Caffeination on Broadway Pier. Proceeds go to BikeSD. There’s a pretty amazing lineup of brewers, roasters and food trucks:

Earlier that day I’m hoping to join the celebration for the long-awaited opening of the Centerline bus rapid transit lanes and stations at Teralta Park over SR-15 in Mid-City:

Speaking of freeways, if Caltrans has an annual funding/maintenance gap of $6 billion, why are they spending $8 billion on an environmentally-damaging, sprawl-inducing freeway in the Mojave Desert?

BikeSD recently endorsed Omar Passons for County Board of Supervisors (thanks to all the candidates who responded) because we know he’ll stand up for the rights of bicyclists even when it’s politically difficult to do so. I joined Omar, urban planner Howard Blackson and a group of bicyclists recently for a ride around downtown where we experienced the challenge of riding in a busy area still bereft of safe bike infrastructure. One highlight was hearing architect Mike Stepner’s efforts in creating the notion of the “Gaslamp Quarter“:

Another reason I support Omar is his support for more housing… which means I can segue into yet another batch of housing bullet points:

  • Opposing housing for your kids to preserve your free street parking isn’t “progressive”, no matter what OB Rag says.  I’m excited about the YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County group because it could make many local Democrats consider where they stand on the housing crisis.  The group has its launch party this Friday.
  • David Alvarez, who will be at the launch party, has several suggestions for the San Diego City Council on how to build more housing, including allowing conversion of vacant ground floor commercial space to housing, and “waiving parking requirement for small apartments, condos, live/work units and studios near transit”.
  • Our City San Diego covers San Diego’s growing affordable housing coalition and how reducing parking requirements gives developers more land on which to build.
  • Todd Gloria introduced a state assembly bill to encourage construction of affordable, smaller units close to transit that would reduce parking requirements.
  • Nearly every city in the state failed to reach state-mandated housing goals and will now be required to streamline projects that include affordable housing.
  • Inner suburbs that declare themselves “built out” and oppose housing (i.e., Bay Park) are a major cause of housing crises in cities across the U.S.

    The reality is that most of the housing stock and most of the land area of America’s metros is made up of relatively low-density suburban homes. And a great deal of it is essentially choked off from any future growth, locked in by outmoded and exclusionary land-use regulations. The end result is that most growth today takes place through sprawl.

  • A public workshop on the Riverwalk project in Mission Valley detailed how the 4300-unit project’s new trolley station will be the center of the development’s retail area.  Constructive input from neighbors included “we don’t want your residents parking on our streets” and declaring that Mission Valley would turn into a Mumbai slum.
End Local Control

End Local Control

CA State Senate Bill 827, which would remove local control over housing near transit, is generating a lot of press:

  • Curbed has a good interview with the bill’s author, Scott Weiner, who addresses much of the flat-out-wrong arguments that SB 827 opponents like Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin are using 
  • Ethan Elkind points out how hypocritical the Sierra Club has become as this environmental organization opposes a bill that would reduce environmentally-harmful sprawl – just to keep the donations rolling in from wealthy urban NIMBY homeowners
  • 130 tech executives have signed a letter in support of SB 827.  But why stop with tech companies?  Nearly all the UC campuses are having difficulty attracting and retaining tech talent due to the extraordinary cost of housing.  My employer, UC San Diego, has a 15-month waiting list for ‘affordable’ off-campus staff housing at $1500/month for a one-bedroom.  While new on-campus staff housing is planned, it’s still several years off.  Shouldn’t the University of California be advocating for more housing in their communities, and bills like SB 827?
  • Meanwhile, the Raise the Balloon folks in Bay Park are rallying support against the bill, and housing near the $2.2 billion dollar Mid Coast Trolley in general.  These trolley stops are exactly where large-scale new housing is needed for UC San Diego and UTC employees:

  • Voice of San Diego printed a remarkable opinion piece from a suburban author opposing smart growth housing near transit while offering no alternatives.  It was flabbergasting to read a long-term San Diego resident proclaim that urban, multi-family housing made her feel “unwelcome”, and that it shouldn’t be built because of poorly-planned development in San Carlos and Mira Mesa (that her own family lived in).  Translation: “The cheap, car-dependent suburban sprawl that my parents and I benefited from should prevent housing near transit for my kids”.  She then went on to criticize the low quality of public transit in sprawl areas, and low transit ridership – while failing to acknowledge that the poor public transit quality likely caused the low ridership.  Seattle is a great example of robust transit growth when transit riders are given priority, but no suggestions on how to improve transit (funding) were provided.   

Speaking of transit:

  • MTS has a progressive new director, Georgette Gomez – a refreshing change from the unnecessary anti-bicyclist comments from former Republican director Harry Mathis
  • The first phase of the MTS Transit Optimization Plan has increased frequency on urban routes and brought Sunday #11 bus service back to my neighborhood!  I’ve been taking the 11 to the new Trader Joe’s at SDSU and it’s really convenient.
  • SANDAG will have a grand opening ceremony for a new segment of the Bayshore Bikeway on Saturday, February 17, 10:00 a.m. at 1400 Tidelands Avenue, in front of the Port District general services building.  At Bike SD we’re hoping to do a post-event ride to check out the IB Bikeway Village, now open for business.
  • The Union Tribune covered last week’s groundbreaking for the Rose Creek Bikeway
  • Drivers only pay half the cost of roads, and they’re falling apart as a result.  California’s new gas tax, which tried to address this, could now be overturned by drivers opposed to paying their fair share
  • San Diego’s Vision Zero seeks to greatly reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths, but this week brings another example of its Traffic Engineering Department giving zero shits about the cause.  When told of drivers ignoring a “Yield to Pedestrians” sign, endangering street-crossers, their answer was, “The yield sign tells drivers to stop“, and that traffic flow necessitated green lights directing drivers to plow into people in a crosswalk.  Well done!  Maybe we can go back to removing crosswalks in San Diego for pedestrian safety.
  • Lots of coverage of the Mid-Coast Trolley construction on Genesee Ave last week, so here’s lots of pictures of the construction further west on the UCSD campus (and a shot of the Gilman Dr. bridge): :