I missed the news over the holidays that bike shop Velo Cult in South Park has moved is moving their store and staff to Portland. There’s a thread up on SD Bike Commuter about it. The site was set up by Velo Cult owner Sky Boyer and offered business discounts to cyclists who arrived by bike. Linkery and El Take it Easy owner Jay Porter references Velo Cult’s move in a recent post, where he correctly points out that San Diego’s not exactly the best place to go car-free, or even bike comfortably in much of the city, two things he’d like to do more often.

Portland had also been on my mind because of their major ($147 million) streetcar expansion to the east side of the city, which is scheduled for completion in September. The route takes it through densely-populated neighborhoods and connects with existing service downtown. If you’re transit-oriented, you can’t help but compare it to the outlook for streetcars in San Diego (largely a pipe dream in the highway-focused SANDAG plan), and the trolley, which bypasses uptown neighborhoods and didn’t make this nationwide list of 2012 construction starts. To be fair, the Mid-Coast line is set to begin construction in 2014, so I’m not sure why it’s not on the expanded list.

Portland is facing a funding shortfall for their streetcar expansion, and the comments in a recent Oregonian article (gone missing) revealed a resistance to public transit that sounds awfully familiar to San Diegans. One commenter said that the streetcar line shouldn’t be built because “I want to drive my car”, which sums up that viewpoint perfectly – some oppose public transit simply because it doesn’t benefit them, no matter how progressive their city might be.

Having said that, Portland is still miles ahead of San Diego when it comes to cycling, public transit and the other quality of life items Jay mentioned. I’m looking forward to a trip up there this summer – when the sun is actually out. Because for all of the valid criticisms we make about San Diego, the climate and geography will keep me here for life.

– San Diego made the New York Times “45 Places to Go in 2012” list, good to see Bottlecraft, Hamiltons and Local Habit in the slide show… Smashburger is going into the old Sushi Bar Kazumi in the Hillcrest Landmark plaza… San Diego Magazine reports the next several items: the BASIC Pizza folks are opening Asian restaurant Gang Kitchen next door to Broken Yolk on 6th Ave downtown… Next door to that, the Culy Warehouse space will become Block 16 Union & Spirits, a club/bar, and the former Dizzy’s next door (7th ave side?) will be an old-style lunch counter and late-night hot dog stand. They’re from the owner of Bub’s across 7th, and should continue to liven up this formerly quiet block… Both Bencotto in Little Italy and Smoking Goat in North Park are expanding into their respective next door spaces… Red Light District is going in to former Sushi Itto location across from Horton Plaza at 4th and E, and opens later this month.

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