piazza famiglia

piazza famiglia

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 10.33.08 PM

My last post described Urban Mo’s plans to tear down a nearly 100-year old house to put in another surface parking lot in Hillcrest.  Thanks to all the folks who have sent messages to owner Chris Shaw on the Urban Mo’s Facebook page asking him to reconsider (and thanks to Tyler for alerting me to the house in question and its age).  In Little Italy, they’re taking a decidedly more walkable neighborhood approach, where a groundbreaking is set for December 1st for the new pedestrian-only plaza on West Date Street:

The Little Italy Association and San Diego-based developer H.G. Fenton Co. plan a Dec. 1 groundbreaking for Piazza Famiglia, a 10,000-square-foot public plaza serving the downtown neighborhood.

Officials said the plaza is designed to emulate the grand piazzas of Italy and other European cities, and will feature classic Italian architectural details and design. The plaza, set for a 2016 opening, will also include landscaping, seating, gathering areas and a “grand water feature.”


A $16 million Rob Quigley-designed fire station is planned for the taco shop (and mostly parking lot) at Cedar and Pacific Highway.  Throw in the nearby Waterfront Park and the Embarcadero makeover and there are some really positive pedestrian-oriented things happening in the area.  Not to mention all the residential development that’s planned, which will greatly increase the number of people on the sidewalks.

Speaking of the Embarcadero, I checked in with the Port to see what the status of the Navy Pier park was.  Apparently it’s been wrapped into the larger Port planning process – so not much to report there:

The USS Midway Museum has developed a conceptual vision for Navy Pier, and that proposal was first shown publicly in 2011. Since then, the Port of San Diego has launched an Integrated Planning process, which will culminate in a comprehensive update to the Port Master Plan, the guiding document for the nearly 6,000 acres of land and water overseen by the Port. The conceptual vision developed by the USS Midway Museum will be studied and considered as part of the Integrated Planning process.

But over at the airport, who wouldn’t want to take their date to a car rental building restaurant?  That’s the crazy idea being put out by the airport authority – although runway views could be pretty cool from the top of that building:


Hey guys, how about getting the trolley to connect to your airport first, then focus on car rental cuisine?

CityLab has a good article on Maker’s Quarter. East Village’s creative approach to this parking lot provides another sharp contrast to Hillcrest’s (lack of) vision. In the article, Bill Fulton describes our city’s conservative planning mindset:

“There’s a very conservative culture, which is reflected as a cautious approach on the part of the city,” he says. “I mean culturally conservative, in the sense that … the people that live in San Diego and the power structure are often not at the cutting edge of national trends.” The city’s financial crisis and political instability have contributed to this.

With temporary, tactical projects like the Quartyard, it took a while for the city to understand how to make them work, given the existing code, but “eventually they got there.”

Across the bay in Coronado, a traffic calming study for 3rd and 4th Streets considered bike lanes as one calming method, yet many residents declared “bikes don’t belong on 3rd and 4th” – despite increased mobility for bicyclists being one goal of the project.  At least several Coronado political representatives performed a bike tour recently to evaluate improvements to bike infrastructure there.  And the Coronado Bicycle Advisory Committee appears to be doing good work too – even if the first cranky resident comment in the meeting minutes is, “the biggest lawbreakers are bicycle riders”.

We had a fun ride this morning over to Barrio Logan on the Bike San Diego Art of Riding monthly ride, a perk available to members.  If you’re in a giving mood, your donation to Bike SD will be matched by Jacob from Modern Times Brewing until the end of the month.  Brent Beltran, who lives in one of the newer, modern affordable housing buildings near the Mercado, updated us on the neighborhood – the Barrio Logan sign is up:


…the Mercado is filling up with tenants, San Diego Taco factory and Border X brewing are moving in, (as is Iron Fist Brewing), the monthly Barrio Art Crawl (next one: 12/6) is drawing crowds, and there’s a meeting next week for the Barrio Logan segment of the Bayshore Bikeway.  Across the street from the Mercado, a $50 million continuing education building is going up and opens next year.

More pics from the ride: the Bread and Salt building houses a live/work space and art gallery:


And Comm22, the mixed-use project going up on the trolley line:



In Mission Valley, MV News had a good writeup on the presentations given by New School of Architecture students to the Mission Valley Planning Group, focusing on walkability and quality of life over parking lots.  Meanwhile a Mission Valley resident has a meltdown over the much-needed housing being built at Civita, decrying the “population impact on Friars”, then insisting the units will end up empty and as HUD housing.  Seriously, is everyone fucking crazy in this city?  Soothe your mind with the progress being made on the Discovery Center at Grant Park, a “17-acre river fronting property to benefit the community of Mission Valley and San Diego in general”.  Somehow this wasn’t mentioned in the obrag.com piece that criticized Mission Valley’s lack of parks and advocated keeping a golf course as “open space” instead of building transit-oriented housing there.

Still here?  Let’s knock these out:

  • Public transit is booming in San Diego, with the new rapid bus lines adding lots of passengers.  From my experience, Rapid 235 on I-15 is nearly full when I ride it to Kearny Mesa in the mornings, and when I take it downtown on the weekends.
  • John has a quick writeup on Fall Brewing, a new brewery toward the north end of 30th
  • SDSU’s $143 million mixed-use South Campus Plaza broke ground this week, which will house 600 students.  College Area residents, who have long fought mini-dorms in their neighborhood, celebrated SDSU’s housing efforts by threatening legal action against the University.  They’re upset that the planned widening of College to 6 lanes (plus more turning lanes!) won’t happen because of those pesky bike and pedestrian improvements the University is promoting as an alternative.  The College Area community planning group sadly continues to cling to auto Level of Service, now dead in the state.
  • The San Diego Reader appears to have its sights set on obrag.com’s NIMBY crown, publishing three cranky articles last week.  In Bay Park, an older resident justifies not building housing for younger San Diegans near his neighborhood because “I paid a lot of money for this property; there is no way I am giving up my view.”  Oddly, he didn’t show where in his property deed that his view prohibits development down by the freeway.  In South Bay, residents oppose new housing near the bus rapid transit line – because traffic, of course.  And in Kearny Mesa, Dorian Hargrove (who won’t be satisfied until the entire city is a parking lot) profiles homeowners who demand the city provide them with more on-street parking.  Maybe they could use the savings the developer passed on to them when it built the minimum parking required (instead of the supersize amount that most unfortunately provide).
  • And finally, Circulate SD, Connect PB and RideScout are holding a “Night of (transit) Short Stories” in Pacific Beach on December 4th at Java Earth Cafe.  Connect PB works toward improving mobility choices in Pacific Beach.

6 thoughts on “piazza famiglia

  1. Hi Paul, it’s funny you say that, given what I heard tonight. Leo Wilson (head of Uptown Planners) has filed his lawsuit to stop the bike lanes on 4th and 5th Avenue. And a group of Hillcrest and Bankers Hill business owners gathered tonight to spew vitriol against those same bike lanes, and against Mission Hills residents who voted to close University at Washington (to make University more bike-friendly). Providing safe lanes for people on bikes was called “social engineering”, and SANDG was accused of trying to destroy businesses in the neighborhood.

    So yes, they are fucking crazy, and they’re also awful people who don’t give a shit about the lives of their fellow residents who ride a bike. They think our public streets exist solely for their own cheap parking convenience.

  2. “I hate traffic… build wider roads and more parking!”
    “There’s never any parking… remove bike lanes, defund transit and force more people drive!”
    “There’s still traffic and no parking… make parking free!”
    — Some of the things I hear from SD locals

    “High-speed rail and light rail are a waste of money. The answer is autonomous cars.”
    “Why do you need bike lanes? I see people riding their bikes in the canyons all the time. Just ride your bike in the canyon.”
    — Unnamed persons in my wife’s planning class at SDSU

    Yes, it would seem everyone is fucking crazy in this city.

  3. Hi Mike, thanks for your comment. It will be a pay lot with discounts for Mo’s customers from what I read. To be fair, Mr. Shaw has donated a lot of money to the Hillcrest LGBT Center and to the No on 8 campaign, so he does help the community. But in this case, I strongly disagree with his actions.

  4. Great blog! (Once I figured how to get to the desktop version)
    I could not figure out how Chris Shaw was able to complain about a reconfigure of University in front of Mos with a loss of parking while at the same time planning an expansion of his patio that would remove his own on-site parking. Now it turns out he is tearing down the house for a lot (pay lot $$$ ?). His interests are not for the community….he only seeks to serve himself.
    Your commentary about the status of Hillcrest is spot on. It’s a mess with a backwards vision. A NIMBY mess.

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