Downtown’s getting two new 40-story towers in an area that hasn’t seen much development: east Broadway. The towers will feature retail, residential units and a boutique hotel. It should be a big improvement over the rather drab 1950’s buildings there now, which once housed a Sushi Deli. Some articles list the buildings as the first post-recession high rise to go up downtown, but the two 22-story Blue Sky towers are also coming to Cortez Hill nearby. The Broadway developers, Zephyr, are the same group bringing 60 condos to the former 6th Avenue Medical Building at 2850 6th Ave.
One drawback is that the Zephyr project doesn’t feature any office space, and San Diego was just named one of the worst major cities for walkable retail/office development – mostly because of the lack of such projects in our suburbs. Retrofitting suburbia so residents have the option to walk/bike/bus to jobs without sitting in traffic? Rare here, but Denver’s Belmar neighborhood, where mixed-use development replaced a dying mall, is an example cited in the report. San Diego does have a few of these projects planned: Millennia in Chula Vista, One Paseo in Carmel Valley, North City in San Marcos, and Carlsbad Lifestyle (from L.A.’s Grove developer Caruso). UTC’s mixed-use plans also appear to be starting back up, and the the Mid-Coast trolley will be running there.
Over at SDSU, the $143 million South Campus Plaza project is underway, and will front College Avenue:
SDSU seems to get it on sustainable planning:
South Campus Plaza is designed as a pedestrian-, transit- and bicycle-friendly development. Its location adjacent to the SDSU Transit Center will facilitate transit ridership and create less reliance on automobiles, thereby reducing pollution and traffic congestion. Because students living on campus generate significantly less traffic that those living off-campus, providing additional student housing will help the university continue to reduce student dependence on their cars.
As the FAQ points out, the city will determine whether a bike/pedestrian approach is implemented on College, so if you support that, let Chris Pearson with councilmember Marti Emerald’s office know.
Lots of news recently about that new trolley line, which won’t suffer any significant delays due to fairy shrimp-related environmental impacts. Up in UTC, residents oppose a station planned near California Pizza Kitchen on Nobel because “UCSD students will park in the station garage” (that’s quite a walk to campus) and state the trolley “duplicates the MTS SuperLoop”. Yet while the SuperLoop route covers UCSD and UTC only, the trolley goes downtown and beyond. In Bay Park, where residents oppose much-needed housing planned for the trolley line, many requests have been made to remove the Balboa Avenue station entirely.
On a positive note, Balboa station stakeholders received a California Strategic Growth Council state grant to “produce… an implementation program that would address transportation demand, economic market analysis, urban design concepts and multimodal improvement projects.” Pacific Beach has been working on an eco-district plan, “including community identity, urban design and sustainable infrastructure, economy and land use and transportation”, and both a PB Planning Group chair and a member of beautifuPB lauded the grant.
The city’s development proposals for the Morena corridor of the trolley tie into a sustainable, transit-oriented approach that several other cities are implementing. While opposition to raising the height limit to 60′ may be insurmountable, new housing near transit is a sensible way to address the city’s housing affordability crisis. Yet this and a similar plan that proposes pedestrian-oriented residential districts and streetscape improvements for the Midway/Pacific Highway area appear to be opposed by temporary district 2 councilmember Ed Harris. Here’s a screen shot of a proposed Sports Arena Village:
With our region needing 330,000 new housing units by 2050, and near-downtown neighborhoods like Ocean Beach and Hillcrest opposing any growth, the result is continued single-family house construction in distant, car-dependent exurbs. This in turn promotes resource-intensive land use and long commutes, neither of which help on the climate change front. And in trolley-served Mission Valley, some are more interested in preserving a water-wasting golf course for tourists than creating smart housing.
How do we address long-term residents who prioritize auto flow and parking convenience over sustainable, affordable housing for their own children? Circulate SD is holding a transit-oriented development summit on July 1st promoting housing near alternative transit routes as one answer. It’s being held at Jake’s on 6th in Hillcrest, where there’s also a Bike SD soiree on June 26th. Thanks to Jakes for their support on these issues – it’s a world apart from nearby Harvey Milk’s Diner, where an owner actually advocated violence against local bicyclists to “teach them a lesson”. That’s probably not a message Harvey would promote were he still alive today.