Bikeways Update

Bikeways Update

SANDAG held an open house for the Georgia-Meade Bikeway yesterday at the Lafayette Hotel, and overall the route looks good, with construction planned for 2017. Meade is probably the route I bike the most, so I’m encouraged by the project’s buffered lanes and traffic calming treatments.  The treatments include mini-roundabouts, raised crosswalks and sidewalk bulb-outs. One pleasant surprise was the incorporation of my (and others) suggestion to add a missing westbound bike lane on Meade behind the YMCA between 43rd and Fairmont. This was done by removing the eastern part of the concrete median there:

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Also, I had forgotten just how wide the proposed painted buffer is on the Meade bridge over I-805 – hopefully this will slow some drivers on what can be a fast stretch of road:

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Another SANDAG open house is coming up on the 24th: the Uptown Bikeway Open House in Balboa Park. This bikeway goes before the SANDAG Board of Directors on June 24th for a CEQA exemption. Construction would begin in 2017 on the 4th and 5th Avenue segments first. Here’s a terrible photo of SANDAG’s rendering of the bikeway on east University Grabbed a screen shot of east University from SANDAG website (the protected bike lanes will end west of 10th):

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More on the Uptown Bikeway below, but first a quick rundown of all the bike-related events coming up:

Construction of the Rose Creek Bikeway could begin in August.  The bike path will extend from Santa Fe Drive east of I-5, along Rose Creek, under I-5, and connect to the existing bikeway along the creek as it travels under Garnet.

The Uptown Bikeway saga continues as the Hillcrest Business Association still attempts to kill it, block by block.  Recently, Urban Mo’s owner Chris Shaw introduced a motion for the Uptown Parking District to request removal of the Uptown Bikeway north of Robinson on 4th and 5th Avenues.  Recall that Shaw supported the Uptown Bikeway after he tore down a 100-year old house for a parking lot.  He’s apparently changed his mind again, since the HBA removing the Bikeway from most of University Ave wasn’t enough.  4th and 5th have to go too, over a mere 15 parking spaces (there are over 700 off-street spaces on these same blocks).

Here a playlist of videos from that contentious Parking District meeting, including HBA Executive Director Ben Nichols interrupting and yelling at board members and the public.  Yes, that’s the same Ben Nichols who has admonished others, “That’s not how we do things in Hillcrest“.

Fortunately, members of Uptown Parking District from Bankers Hill overcame the HBA’s efforts.  And last week, Uptown Planners reiterated support for a continuous east-west bikeway on University, with a suggested two-way cycletrack on the north side of the street from 5th to 10th, to fill the “HBA Hole” (h/t to Jeff Kucharski):


With the city repaving/striping University later this year due to underground pipe work, there’s an opportunity to fill the above gap, potentially removing just 8 parking spaces (5 new spaces are being added nearby on Robinson at 163). I’m impressed at how Uptown Planners has come around on this issue, and I’m grateful that Tom Mullaney, whom I’ve disagreed with on other issues, even attended the Parking District meeting in support of the bike lanes.  I’m guessing the efforts of Kyle Heiskala (who’s now running for City Council) and Michael Brennan have helped people consider both sides of the issue.

Nichols has complained about bicyclists who ride on sidewalks (“It reminded me of those cyclists that give all riders a bad name by riding up on sidewalks… with complete disregard for any rule or procedure at all“), and sure enough, on my way to the Parking District meeting, I saw a bicyclist riding on the sidewalk on a dangerous stretch of University in the HBA Hole:


When I asked the rider, “It’s too dangerous to ride in the street, isn’t it?”, she said yes.

I’m hopeful someday Hillcrest can overcome Ben Nichols, Crest Cafe owner Cecelia Moreno, Bread and Cie owner Charlie Kaufman, Chris Shaw and Ace Hardware owner Bruce Reeves, who have all put their claim to public street space over the safety of residents and visitors.  Meanwhile a new SANDAG report shows University Ave has the highest number of pedestrian and bike collisions in Uptown:

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The Bike Wars Are Over, and the Bikes Won“?  Not in Hillcrest, unfortunately.

– Finishing up: traffic calming is coming to the Sixth Ave south of Laurel courtesy of the City, with buffered bike lanes, a road diet, new crosswalks and rectangular rapid flashing beacons (UPDATE: here’s the City presentation [h/t Adrian] and screen shots from it below:

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And here are the results of the I-8 corridor study: lots of interesting proposals, but making this part of Mission Valley safer for non-drivers is going to be a big (unfunded) infrastructure challenge after decades of auto-centric planning.  Also, some useful Mission Valley planning maps (h/t Tyler) as this area readies for transit-oriented development.


Chuck Alek Biergarten

Chuck Alek Biergarten


Ramona’s Chuck Alek Brewers beer garden opened recently behind Tostadas on University in North Park, bringing the first outdoor tasting “room” to the neighborhood. The garden is a mix of picnic tables, plants, and a walk-up beer window (about ten on tap, minus a couple that were tapped out) that overlooks the space:


Menus from Tostadas are on hand for ordering food  and the garden is fairly kid-friendly.  A few more trees or umbrellas would be appreciated, especially with hot summer sun not too far off.  In the beer department, their IPA was not quite as hoppy as what I’m used to in San Diego, but the porter was more true to form.  Eater has more details on this welcome new outdoor space.


On Adams Ave, French restaurant Et Voila has opened in the former Fiesta Market, where the building looks so much better with a fresh coat of paint and all those signs removed from its facade:



Again, Eater has a good writeup on their menu and some pretty interior shots.  With Tajima going in next door, Blackmarket Bakery set to open south of Polite Provisions, and Beerfish just west of Soda and Swine, the intersection of Adams and 30th is really turning into a dining hub.

– Gordon Carrier from Carrier Johnson presented the proposed Strauss on 5th project in Hillcrest between Walnut and Brookes.  It’s a 72 foot, 6-story apartment building with 141 (24 of them affordable), and many studios and one bedrooms.  Currently the lot is two parking lots and a small apartment building:

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My pictures from the slide show are pretty sad, but since there’s no renderings online yet…

I’ve updated the post with renderings from Carrier Johnson (thanks Vicki!):
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The prominent cap on the building raised some ire, and I’m not totally sold on the “window” in the middle of the building, but the project provides badly-needed new market rate and affordable housing in Uptown.

It was interesting to watch the reactions of Uptown Planners Mat Wahlstrom and Leo Wilson to the project.  They both stated recently that all new development in Uptown is unaffordable, and therefore we shouldn’t allow any.  Yet this project includes affordable units and studios.  Thus Wahlstrom pivoted and criticized the loss of 20 parking spaces – even though the project includes far more parking than required by the city, with three levels of underground parking.  If Wahlstrom is truly concerned about affordable housing, wouldn’t he be arguing for the elimination of parking minimums that contribute upwards of $200/month to the cost of an apartment?  Either the affordable housing argument is just a smokescreen for plain ‘ol NIMBYism, or housing for cars is just more important than housing for people.

For a more sensible approach, check out this new CirculateSD report on how parking minimums are barriers to smart growth. Or read this recent planning exercise where parking minimums made sensible residential development impossible.  If San Diego politicians were serious about addressing the housing crisis rather than just talking about it, they’d have done away with our parking minimums years ago, as many other cities have.  But then they probably wouldn’t get re-elected, given the demographic turnout for local elections.

– The Mid-Coast Trolley extension to UTC may still be five years away, but that hasn’t stopped Costa Verde Center from releasing an ambitious plan incorporating the terminus station that will front this retail center on Genesee.  Renderings in this big pdf show bike lockers, bikeways, pedestrian-friendly features and a rooftop park for patrons exiting the elevated station:

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 11.08.34 PM– Downtown, Bosa has traded in their conservative condo tower design for Aqua-lite on their 42 story project coming to 777 Front Street:


San Diego doesn’t have much in the way of daring or remarkable high-rise architecture.  Let’s hope this project starts to change that.

Santa Monica Redux

Santa Monica Redux


Somehow it’s been nearly four years since we visited Santa Monica and raved about the bike-related stuff going on there.  A meeting at UCLA provided a good reason to stick around for the weekend and see what was new on the Westside.  We rented bikes in Venice Beach and pedaled the dedicated beach bike path up to Santa Monica to Tongva Park across from City Hall.  It was still under construction during our last visit, but the finished park, featuring the oblong observation decks shown above and below, is an incredible improvement over the former parking lot at the site.  The LA Times interviewed the landscape architect who designed the park (and the High Line in Manhattan).


Tongva Park is a peaceful oasis from the bustling streets outside, with winding paths, water features trickling in the background and water-wise landscaping throughout.   The google images for the park are way better than anything I took.

City Hall is located just east of the park and the arrangement reminded me of Waterfront Park at the County Administration Building here.  The traffic calming they’ve done on the street dividing the two in Santa Monica sure would be appreciated on both Harbor and Pacific Highway however.





Just to the north is Colorado Boulevard, where the Expo Line Extension terminus station at 4th Ave will open next month when the Extension makes its debut (check out this video of the route).  The station looks about complete but the street’s pedestrian esplanade was still under construction – the curved pavers make it look like it’s undulating, but it’s just an optical illusion.  Not pictured here are the two new large residential projects going in.  Their building heights are far above the 30′ limit that Bay Park residents have imposed on any development near the forthcoming Mid-Coast trolley stations.




The station is just a block away from the southern end of Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade, which was busy as usual:


While we didn’t do the entire 26 miles of the beach bike path, it sure is nice to have pedestrian traffic separated from the bike lane.  Too bad Coronado won’t allow a beach bike path, and the Pacific/Mission Beach boardwalk isn’t wide enough to permit dedicated uses.


That’s not the only place where LA’s common sense trumps San Diego’s entrenched entitlement.  We made our way home Sunday and stopped into Hermosa Beach, where 24-hour parking and residential parking permits stand in stark contrast to Pacific Beach resident and business demands to keep all parking free despite overwhelming demand.  Here’s a car-free view of Hermosa Beach:


Next we visited the Anaheim Packing District, a former citrus processing facility built in 1919 that’s been converted into a food hall.  LAist has a ton of photos from the opening in 2014.






We still haven’t been to Liberty Station’s Public Market but the Anaheim version’s wide range of food and drink options was quite a surprise given the location.  Maybe there is hope for the OC.





Kindred opened a few months ago in the former Alchemy spot in South Park, after they opened up this walled-off space to the street. With crazy design input from owner Kory Stetina, filtered through Paul Basile (who created the various Consortium Holdings interiors – they’re on board here too), the restaurant and bar don’t quite look like your typical San Diego establishment:





That last framed picture is on display in the mens room. But enough about the design – how’s Kindred’s all-vegan menu? If our brunch items are any indication, it’s one of the best in town. The price point is lower than Cafe Gratitude in Little Italy (and you don’t have to say “I am Grateful” or whatever the name of your dish is) and the flavors are bold. I haven’t had many vegan breakfasts in San Diego so there’s not a whole lot to compare to… maybe Naked Cafe many years ago, or the buckwheat pancakes at Swami’s in North Park. But this plate of pancakes (“Carmelized Banana, Bourbon Butterscotch, Whipped Coconut Cream, Walnuts, Syrup”) was amazingly delicious – this plate was soon empty:


Banana bread french toast looked really good:


Jay’s tofu scramble (“Spicy Horseradish Hash Browns, Romesco, Chioggia Beets, Avocado, Sourdough Toast, Chile Lime Butter”) was also surprisingly tasty:


We sampled a few appetizers too, including the fried potato bread (“Soy Cream, Blackberry Jam, Mango, Mint, Fresno Chili”):


Given all my dietary issues I can’t remember the last time I was able to order items like these without paying for it later.
The cocktail list looked really interesting, but I hadn’t had my coffee fix yet, so the Modern Times iced coffee on tap was the perfect accompaniment to breakfast. We’re hoping to get back to Kindred soon to see if their dinners match the high bar they’ve set at brunch.


Art of the Open Air

Art of the Open Air

The San Diego Museum of Art installed several sculptures in Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama last month for their “Art of the Open Air” exhibit, and I finally got over there recently to check them out. Here’s a few of the pieces:




Slowly but surely this is turning into a great civic space, and it started with Mayor Filner ignoring the howls over removing any parking. And despite it being a very busy Sunday in the park, the parking lots across Park Boulevard had hundreds of spaces available, with tram service picking up visitors. Why not charge for parking in the prime lots inside Balboa Park and use the revenue to increase tram service frequency to the remote lots? Or use the money toward repairing the hundreds of millions of dollars of decaying infrastructure in the Park? It’s odd that we accept demand-based pricing throughout the private sector (e.g., Uber) but insist that all public resources be free when tax revenues are insufficient.

Pappalecco opened just down the street from us here in Kensington, and it’s great to see the eastern end of Adams Ave in Kensington finally getting some foot traffic after all these quiet years. We’ve mostly had gelato and coffee so far but the cafe/restaurant is clearly a hit, with pizzas selling out on opening day. And with Cucina Sorella opening soon in the former Fish Public space, sleepy Kensington may finally be waking up.



    Transit items:

  • As transit agencies in other cities implement mobile payment systems, making it easier to ride, San Diego still doesn’t have stored value on the Compass Card (i.e., putting $20 on the card to use as needed). Bus riders still need exact change – $2.25 – to ride. Circulate SD posted a form you can fill out asking MTS to implement this long-overdue feature.
  • California finally removes a long-standing obstacle to transit-oriented development: the auto “Level of Service” requirement in CEQA:

    Now, instead of evaluating a project by traffic congestion, cities will instead ask whether that project will make people drive more — a truly negative environmental impact. This change will remove one of the biggest barriers to infill and transit-oriented development. It will finally reflect the fact that these projects are better for the environment, because they enable people to take shorter trips and go by foot, bike, bus and rail.

  • San Diego has one of the shortest average commute times in the U.S. So why is every development near public transit attacked by those complaining about traffic congestion?
  • The city is opening up its data to the public. Want to know which parking meters in the city are most heavily used, yet still have the same pricing as those used the least? Request these data be prioritized for release at the link above.
  • SANDAG has an open house for the Landis Bikeway in North Park next Wednesday at 6 PM. And stay tuned for a SANDAG Bikeways presentation for the bike community later this month. Previous presentations have included a whole lot of talk about street parking, and not much about the bike lanes themselves.
  • The SR-15 bikeway had its groundbreaking last week. Caltrans will present the project to the Kensington-Talmadge Planning Group at 7:30 PM Wednesday. Here’s a rendering of the path:Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 8.58.05 PM
    Housing items:

  • As I mentioned in my last post, San Diego was recently named the second-most expensive housing metro in the nation:MW-EH068_home_s_20160303112951_ZHLocal urban planner Howard Blackson gives his ideas on how to address San Diego’s housing crisis.
  • A workshop last Saturday at the New School of Architecture in East Village brainstormed ideas on the future of the neighborhood’s southern area – namely, the blocks east of Petco Park that the Chargers have their eye on for a new stadium. Each table at the workshop came up with their own ideas, including a UC San Diego campus in the easternmost part of the neighborhood, with a green-space connector to the library. Architect Rob Quigley named the convention center and hotel bay front wall as the “biggest planning blunder in San Diego”, and offered his own sketch for south East Village: an oblong, fish-shaped green space surrounded by buildings with curving facades to complement the park.
  • Some spare time before a recent dentist appointment in Bankers Hill (thanks to my MTS route 11 bus) enabled some quick pics of ongoing development there, including Vue on Fifth:

    … and Fourth Avenue Lofts: