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Summer Update

Summer Update

Summer is (sort of) here in San Diego – seems like a good time to run through the photo roll and post some updates… Pacific Gate at Broadway and Pacific has completed construction.  Here’s a picture of the public art out front from several weeks ago: 

From the developer’s press release:

Jaume Plensa’s Pacific Soul – with countless passersby stopping to photograph the installation – located in the public plaza at Pacific Gate, and one of the most important additions to downtown San Diego’s robust art scene. Pacific Soul is a sculpture that stands 25 ft. tall and utilizes characters from eight alphabets, including Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, and Latin in the form of the human figure

(Updated 7/2: added new Pacific Gate and Intercontinental photos)

 

Nearby, the Intercontinental Hotel opens in September and will feature “Five food and beverage outlets, including Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, which will feature an open kitchen in the lobby. More casual concepts include the 19th floor rooftop bar, a pool bar, and a café.” 

And work started this month on Manchester Pacific Gateway, which is expected to be completed in 2021 – an ambitious schedule for a seven-building project covering eight blocks:

Just south of there, Seaport Village‘s welcome obliteration is now scheduled to begin in 2021 (subscription required).  In the meantime, it’s still the only harbor-front path segment from the Hilton all they way to Spanish Landing where bike and scooter riding is prohibited:

That won’t be the case with the Seaport’s replacement, which will have an integrated bay-front bike path.

But it’s East Village that’s seeing the most construction activity in the city right now.  The Alexan at 300 14th Ave is finished and leasing:

Across 14th, construction continues on the 222-unit, 23-story K1 apartment building:

K1 will include an “adjoining mixed-use, low-rise annex designed by Rob Wellington Quigley” – who also designed the downtown library and his personal residence nearby:: 

Pinnacle on the Park‘s second tower continues to grow and will top out at 45 stories (one fewer than the first tower) and 472 units:

Ballpark Village is nearing completion with 713 units across its 37-story tower and shorter buildings:

This rendering from the Welcome to San Diego blog provides another perspective:  

The parking lot in the lower right hand corner of that rendering, next to the 12th and Imperial trolley station, may be the location referred to in this week’s news regarding a state cap and trade funding award for a new 400-unit affordable housing project

A $20 million award will help bankroll a 400-unit housing project operated by Father Joe’s Villages next to the 12th and Imperial transit station in East Village, as well as more than two miles of protected bike lanes on both 6th Avenue and J Street.

Makers Quarter is located in East Village around 15th and F, and will contain a variety of residential, office and commercial properties. Their website states, “Our mission is to cultivate a neighborhood for San Diego’s Entrepreneurs, Artists, and Makers. We aim to preserve the existing Maker Spirit that already thrives here, while consciously developing lifestyle, residential, and business properties, designed to reflect the artistic integrity of the neighborhood.” 

While Makers’ first establishments, 10 Barrel Brewing and Punchbowl Social (which opened earlier this month) are big improvements over what was(n’t) there before, I’m not sure they represent the Maker Spirit originally envisioned.  Case in point: Opinion: 10 Barrel is NOT local beer).  I’m also unclear how luxury condos fit into that vision. But I am a sucker for ping pong, and Punchbowl Social – shown below – has that and much more in the way of games:

The 23,500-square-foot two-tiered complex — built inside a long-abandoned boxing gym at 1485 E St. — combines a made-from-scratch restaurant and three bars with eight bowling lanes, karaoke rooms, vintage arcade games, 8-man foosball, bocce, shuffleboard, Ping-Pong, darts and table games.

The Block D office building at Makers Quarter is set to open this summer:

Elsewhere, Jonathan Segal’s Polk and Park in North Park/University Heights is complete, with restaurant shop BFD moving in from down the street: 

Segal’s The Fort project in Mission Hills looks about done, and its height has got to be infuriating the Mission Hills set – despite being located next to an equally tall building: 

Fort Oak restaurant, from the Trust restaurant folks, will open in The Fort this fall

James Coffee has opened in the new Louie building on 4th in Bankers Hill:

Communal Coffee has been open for a few months now in South Park and they’ve crated a really cozy space:

And finally, since it’s summertime, here’s some irrelevant pics of one of my favorite warm-ish weather hangouts, Panama 66:

 

 

 

Bikeshare Blowout

Bikeshare Blowout

The meltdown over dockless bikeshare in San Diego is in full swing, but it’s somewhat expected in a city where cars come first – often at the expense of other travel modes. A common argument against dockless bikes has been that the bikes are in the way, which they sometimes are, since many of our sidewalks aren’t wide enough to accommodate a parked bike and pedestrians. But it’s remarkable that pedestrians and bike share users are fighting over the last sliver of public space. Nearly all of our public street space has been taken by motorists to drive or park their personal vehicles (often for free):

The more I hear the “bikes are in the way” argument, I think it’s really just a smokescreen for “we don’t want bikes, period” – a perspective many San Diegans hold unfortunately. For example, here’s someone outraged over the mere presence of dockless bikes, and actually counted how many they saw. The fact that there were far more (and larger) private vehicles being stored on our public streets went unnoticed:

I know Nextdoor is often a forum for some of our most self-interested neighbors, but the above sentiments are probably shared by many among our city’s in-power group (motorists) who view the presence of public bikes as a threat to their perceived ownership or dominance of our public space. Disclaimer: I drive too. But articles with headlines like “Will bike and scooter shares overpopulate La Jolla?”, as thousands of cars choke La Jolla’s streets makes you wonder – how did people’s perspectives get so warped?

Well, as this Dallas Magazine article points out, “Many of the problems of bike share are really problems with a city whose streets are built for cars, not people. The safety and ‘nuisance’ hazards associated with cars—pollution, fatal accidents, neighborhood-destroying highways and parking lots—are worse than anything an electric scooter or share bike are capable of.” Or as CityLab notes, “Much of the LA region’s built environment is designed to accommodate the presence of private vehicles and to punish their absence”.

These dockless bikes and scooter programs reveal not only the control many motorists feel they have over our public streets, but also their dim view of those who aren’t driving. Many motorists assign and perceive status based on how expensive a person’s car is. If you’re not even driving, imagine just how low on the totem pole you are to these folks.

As auto transportation does massive harm to our environment, climate, health and communities (we literally tear down lower-income urban neighborhoods by ramming freeways through them), motorists are instead freaking out over the potential of kids tripping over a bike. This same Mission Hills resident and North Park business owner penned a laughable Union Tribune commentary fretting over potential injuries from scooters, while somehow omitting the fact that 20-50 million people are injured or killed each year globally by drivers. There are plenty more of these: “Is Southern California’s ‘dockless’ electric scooter fad a public safety hazard?”; “Dockless bikes – are they safe or will someone get hurt?”;
“Dockless bikes and hepatitis” (You’ve done it again, Reader!)

Fortunately there have been several positive pieces on the bikeshare boom, such as this one in Uptown News that explained how critical bikes are to the first and last-mile needs of public transit users (something many motorists are simply unable to comprehend). The Union Tribune also included favorable commentaries from Circulate San Diego and the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. Bikeshare may even expand to North County.

But for every positive bikeshare article or commentary, there are some real head-scratchers, like the “environmental”, “progressive” residents of Ocean Beach railing against a public program that is good for the environment and transportation equity. In La Jolla, a resident advisory board disregarded the “advisory” part and stated that only they could give “permission” for what types of bikes could be allowed in their community. This group had earlier opposed docked bike share also. And the Little Italy Association wants a city-wide ban on dockless bikes until they and parking districts can “find” docking areas for them. That’s called docked bike share – which these groups also opposed due to parking impacts.

You don’t need to make it any clearer folks. What you’re really saying is, “no bikes, period”.

The notion that public bikes left in public spaces is litter is another common argument against dockless. Many have cited a Chinese dockless bike junkyard should mean no public dockless bikeshare, anywhere, while somehow overlooking a much, much larger Chinese auto junkyard:

Leaving a bike on the sidewalk is no more ‘litter’ than how our public streets are littered with parked cars – often illegally. In this case, a rideshare driver is both blocking a bus stop and decreasing visibility at an intersection:

This brings up another dockless criticism: that private bikeshare companies shouldn’t be allowed to use public infrastructure. Isn’t that exactly what Uber and Lyft are doing?

Instead of freaking out about other modes of transport becoming more readily available, maybe we should reclaim some public space from our motorist overlords by heeding this advice:

If scooters proliferate, planners have all the more reason to reclaim pavement from cars, creating more sidewalks, bike lanes, or, indeed scooter lanes. Scooters might warrant further transit investments as they widen the traditional walk-sheds of transit stops. They might influence parking requirements and warrant the conversion of on-street parking spaces into scooter corrals. Or maybe they’re benign enough, and our existing streetscapes accommodating enough, that we can indeed let them evolve organically and not freak out about them.

The sheer number of new bicycle and scooter share rides happening as a result of these programs is an incredible game-changer for San Diego. But the response from city staff and leadership has been to delay the Downtown Mobility Plan by at least 5 years (after using it as an excuse not to work on any other bike lane projects in the city), while demonstrating a clear lack of support for bike infrastructure. This, as it trumpets a Climate Action Plan projecting an 18-fold increase in bike commuters for much of the city. You can’t realize your goals when you’re actively working against them.