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Category: planning

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): :
City: Thumbs-Down to Uptown’s Downzone

City: Thumbs-Down to Uptown’s Downzone

San Diego leads the state in the number of new hotels opened this year, and the county has nearly 10,000 new hotel rooms planned. With the return of the Intercontinental chain (under construction at Pacific and Broadway), the City council’s approval this week of a new Ritz Carlton downtown strengthens the luxury hotel market there – another ‘big city’ step for San Diego.


The Ritz is part of the Cisterra Development’s 7th & Market mixed use project, the biggest, most expensive and densest development in the county, with 1.16 million square feet in two towers:

A 39-story tower blends together luxury condos, market-rate apartments, and affordable rental units. Plans by Carrier Johnson + Culture architects include a rooftop terrace, four levels of underground parking and a 6,000-square-foot public plaza.

A separate 19-story tower includes a 153-room hotel component. The developer is incorporating the historic Clermont Hotel, and its 53 single-room occupancy units, into the project. 7th & Market is slated for completion by October 2021.

Elsewhere downtown, the Modern Times Festival of Dankness had a huge turnout at Waterfront Plaza back in August (yes it’s been that long since I posted):


More than $10,000 dollars in proceeds was donated to BikeSD from Modern Times and its owner, Jacob McKean. As a volunteer board member for BikeSD, and someone who knows how difficult it is to raise funds for a non-profit, I couldn’t be more grateful. For me, Modern Times is San Diego’s best brewery for reasons like this, the impressive creativity that goes into their product and establishments’ design, McKean’s outspokenness on craft breweries like Ballast Point that have sold out, and their awesome beers, of course.

After the festival let out I snapped some pictures of the bayfront area as the sun lowered on this hot day, including one of the new Carnitas Snack Shack‘s bar on the Embarcadero:


Having a decent restaurant and bar on the city’s prime stretch of redeveloped waterfront is long overdue – especially with all the surrounding development going on.

The north end of Little Italy keeps cranking out new establishments, including San Diego’s second RakiRaki (with a Pokirrito), on India St:


We visited shortly after they opened in early September and the Pokirrito poke bowls were very filling – I made the mistake of trying to eat two of them with a 2-for-1 promo they had going. Jay and our friends got RakiRaki’s ramen, which was quite good. And I love that this it’s next door to Bottlecraft, which always has a wide range of smaller-brewery craft beers on tap and is wide open to the street.

Soft-opening this week one block south is a Pali Wine Co tasting room, which includes a balcony for plane-watching:


Pali is “a producer of premium, appellation-specific and vineyard-designate wines from California and Oregon” and the tasting room “features Pali’s Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, and Rhone and Bordeaux varieties grown in the Central Coast by its sister label, Tower 15. A rotating selection of eight ‘fresh’ wines, blended straight from the barrel to keg, are available for tasting or for carry-out by growler.”

One last downtown item: after 12 years we finally got up on the roof of the Western Metals Building.  It was a work event at the last game of the season, and while the Padres disappointed as usual, the weather didn’t:


Closer to home, we’ve been enjoying the ample patio, craft beers, and fish and chips at Beerfish near 30th and Adams:


Around the corner on 30th, Blackmarket Bakery has opened:



So many interesting places opening in this area right now, including a Tajima, not to mention all the great stuff there already (Polite Provisions, Soda and Swine, Fall Brewing, Cantina Mayahuel, Jayne’s Gastropub, Hawthorne Coffee, Et Viola). Check them out next Sunday, October 30th when 30th St closes for the return of CicloSDias.

Quickies: Nomad Donuts, just down 30th from Fall, and where I get my delicious vegan donut fix, is opening a second location in the former Lady of the Lake bookstore in North Park (Illinois and University).  They’ll also be serving craft beer and bagels.  Check out the North Park Facebook page for all the goings on in NP, it’s hard to keep up…  Pop Pie Co., serving savory and sweet mini-pies, has opened on Park Blvd in University Heights… [email protected], the El Cajon Boulevard International Food Market next to the new YMCA, started earlier this month and runs each Wednesday evening… A panel discussion on the future of transit on El Cajon Blvd takes place at the vacant lot at ECB and Central Ave next Tuesday.

Speaking of transit on ECB, the City appears to be endorsing a no-bike lane alternative on El Cajon Boulevard after receiving significant SANDAG and County funding to address this dangerous stretch of road.  As one business owner said, “people have been injured, but nobody’s been killed!” to justify street parking over safer streets.  This is a Vision Zero priority corridor, in a transit-oriented neighborhood where the CAP calls for increased alternative mode share, where many lower-income residents walk and bike, and where abundant commercial off-street parking exists – yet not a single parking space can be surrendered for alternative transit.

Both the North Park and Uptown Community Plan updates have been in the news recently as they near final approval.  It was very encouraging to see the City Planning Commission reject Uptown Planners‘ downzone of the area and restrictive height limits.  Finally, the city is standing up to self-interested property owners in the community and on the board who prioritize LGBT memories, property value profits and abundant street parking over housing for others:

Leo Wilson, chair of Uptown Planners, acknowledged that Hillcrest is the heart of the LGBT community. “This is our Castro,” he said, referring to the famous San Francisco neighborhood. Wilson worried about redevelopment triggering a “cultural desecration.”

Hillcrest Medical Center workers are going hungry due to high housing costs, but Uptown’s planning chair says we can’t add housing in Hillcrest because of its LGBT history?  What a sad, out-of-touch sense of priorities.

Todd Gloria specifically noted his opposition to Uptown Planners’ plan to reduce density (even more than the city’s earlier downzone), given the city’s Climate Action Plan and related transit-oriented development requirements.  Gloria also said Uptown’s mobility plan needs to be revisited, since it fails to meet bike and public transit mode share goals.  One obvious step, mentioned by the Planning Commission, would be to fill the bike network hole on University Avenue created by the Hillcrest Business Association.

And last, on a completely unrelated note, I finally made it up to artist Do Ho Suh’s “Fallen Star” house at UC San Diego a while back.  Here are some pictures from this unique addition to the university’s Stuart Art Collection.