We stopped by the BLVD Food Market on El Cajon Blvd Friday night, where several food vendors and a live band were set up in the parking lot of the Heart and Trotter strip mall at Utah.  This isn’t your typical strip mall – on this night, several of the businesses were open late, including a mattress store with art for sale.  One of the highlights among the booths was Jordan Hannibal’s 5150 Nut Butter (I’m now hooked on their cookies and cream flavor).  Unfortunately it looks like Heart and Trotter still has a ways to go before opening their space.  And since their booth already was out of food two hours into the event, we walked up 30th to Chris’ Ono Grinds, where we enjoyed their tasty Kahlua pork and barbeque chicken dishes.  They have Fall Brewing on tap so we headed up the street to that new brewery next and were surprised to see the place was nearly full:


Who knew there was still demand for even more breweries in San Diego?  It was the same story down 30th where the new Rip Current brewing (and its food joint in the back, Sublime) was also packed.  In fact, nearly every business along this northern stretch of 30th was busy – Streetcar, Ritual, Nomad Donuts, Toronado.  Compared to a few years ago, North Park is definitely stretching out.

– Also in North Park, the building formerly housing Undisputed Gym has been sold at 3038 University.  Given its size, it could be an ideal spot for an organic market or similar, but some have brought up the lack of parking at the site.  Yet when we travel to other large cities, plenty of people shop at markets without the need for parking out front – perhaps they just shop more often.  I know that’s a foreign concept to most of San Diego right now, but does that mean it can never change, even as North Park continues to become more city-like?

– In South Park, the anti-TargetExpress group, Care About South Park, have finally revealed themselves (they demand “transparency” from Target yet hadn’t previously identified their members), and one of the group’s spokespersons is Mark Arabo.  While CASP purports to be a community group, Arabo is the head of the Neighborhood Market Association, which understandably does not want a Target to compete with.  Yet CASP purports to speak for the community, not grocers.  Arabo is also known for leading the fight against the plastic bag ban, despite 20 million tons of plastic going into our oceans every year.

CASP’s other spokesperson, Sabrina DiMinico, is critical of corporations despite being an employee at Petco.  Ms. DiMinico provided this gem to Uptown News:

“I shop at Target,” DiMinico said. “But we don’t want a Target in South Park.”

While DiMinico criticizes the traffic that a tiny Target would bring to South Park, she has no problem contributing to the congestion and pollution in other, lesser neighborhoods that host giant Targets.  Wouldn’t the residents of Mission Valley prefer that South Park residents shop at their own Target?  In fact, a TargetExpress in South Park that uses the existing Gala Foods building (I’d be opposed to a giant Target with a huge parking lot) will enable locals to walk, bike, take the bus, or take a shorter car trip to get household items unavailable elsewhere in the neighborhood.

Any successful store is going to increase traffic in South Park compared to the failing Gala Foods.  Instead, DiMinico would rather produce more greenhouse gases and road wear by forcing her neighbors to drive to Mission Valley.

– Speaking of GHG’s, a recent headline in the Reader about proposed development near transit in Grantville caught my attention:

Plan for Grantville population boom – Count on more noise, traffic, greenhouse gas emissions

The article is about the environmental impact report for the planned 8725 dwelling units over the next several decades in Grantville.  Given the huge need for housing in San Diego, it makes sense to put it near the trolley where some vehicle trips will be replaced by trolley rides.  Since those units are going to get built somewhere in our region regardless, wouldn’t this project produce less greenhouse gas emissions than pushing that growth to say, Murrieta and its resulting 60-mile commutes?  Pushing growth to the exurbs is exactly what’s been happening as NIMBY publications like the Reader promote no-growth policies.  Voice of San Diego also has a good writeup on the planned development in Grantville, where traffic and parking concerns are once again more important to many than our city’s housing affordability crisis.

– Community planning groups draw up the community plans that guide how we’ll live in and get around our neighborhoods, and the plans are currently being updated for the next few decades.  One example is the College Area Planning Group, whose existing community plan calls for widening College Ave from four to six auto lanes.  CAPG is fighting a proposed bike lane on College Avenue (more on that below) because they feel it will prevent the above widening, despite there being no funding for the hundreds of millions of dollars in demolition and reconstruction costs that would be required for the SDSU campus as a result.

Having attended several community planning group meetings, our neighborhoods’ futures are largely being determined by established residents with older mindsets, primarily concerned with keeping any new housing out of their community.  Meanwhile the region’s housing shortage, affordability crisis and hourglass economy worsens.  These residents largely oppose any infrastructure devoted to alternative modes of transit, despite younger Americans increasingly using these modes, their own future need for them, or the city’s Climate Action Plan that increases bike and public transit mode share.

If you oppose this cars-first planning approach for our city, and instead think we should plan for the needs of all residents, Circulate San Diego is hosting a panel discussion on how to join a Community Planning Group on January 28th at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

– Circulate SD also put on a fun event with the help of RideScout in Pacific Beach recently at the Java Earth Cafe, A Night of Short Stories: From Point A to Point PB.  With the trolley coming to near Pacific Beach, the event was meant to highlight the project and get people thinking about their experiences on public transit.  Five speakers told riveting and/or funny transit tales, and we especially enjoyed the story of a hung-over American tourist vomiting his way through Paris.

– I met with Robert Schultz, Vice President of Real Estate at SDSU recently regarding the proposed College Ave bike lanes that are part of the South Campus Plaza mixed-use project there:

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 3.13.53 PM


The project will house 600 students and include ground floor retail.  Bike lanes that were added to the project at the request of the City of San Diego to mitigate the impacts of the new development by employing a Complete Streets approach (the project also widens sidewalks for the significant pedestrian traffic there).  I was surprised to hear that the city may kill the same lanes they suggested, because they have performed an auto level of service analysis that shows increased congestion.  Bob explained that while there have been suggested changes to using LOS at the state level, it’s still fully in charge here in San Diego (this was also confirmed at a later meeting I had to UCSD).  Further, a traffic engineer with the city asked SDSU to perform a 95th percentile traffic queue length study.  The city’s Climate Action Plan, which seeks to increase bike mode share to 18% in communities like the SDSU area, was never brought up.

It sounds like different people within the city have different missions, and the result is that Complete Streets policies are nearly impossible to implement.  (An aside: an email was forward to me from a Portland State faculty member who was looking for examples of mid-rise developments near San Diego college campuses that connect the campus to the community.  Amazingly, there don’t appear to by any near our three major universities).  I understand that state policies take a while to filter down to municipalities, but it would be beneficial to have a more unified approach from the City instead of the contradictions that prevent Complete Streets.

While the College Ave bike lanes face challenges from within the city (and offer a fascinating case study on how hard it is to implement Complete Streets in San Diego), let’s not forget the vehement opposition from local residents, who may seek legal action to prevent them.  Their vision of a six-lane College Ave, which is in stark contrast to the alternative transit modes being used by younger San Diegans (the trolley reduced annual parking permits by 6000 at SDSU, and they’re trending downward yearly),  means that bike lanes and widened sidewalks simply aren’t an option for College Ave, ever.  And this is in a neighborhood that lacks any real safe bike facilities at all for a large student population.  If you support bike lanes on College, please email council member Marti Emerald at martiemerald@sandiego.gov.

Residents also oppose the size of the student housing building, yet they also complain about neighborhood houses being turned into mini-dorms as a result of insufficient student housing on campus.  Insufficient parking is another sore spot, yet College area residents benefit from the city’s cheap residential parking permit program ($13/year; no significant increase in decades) that city taxpayers subsidize to the tune of a few hundred thousand dollars every year.

– I also met with Robert Clossin, Director of Physical and Community Planning at UCSD recently.  UCSD and the UC system have a “robust” sustainability policy in place, so I was confused when UCSD supported the proposed I-5 widening that will increase greenhouse gas emissions.  This widening is part of the SANDAG 2050 transportation plan that has been thrown out in court twice now, for exceeding state greenhouse gas goals.  So Robert and Catherine Presmyk in the same office met with me to clear things up.

Here are the transit projects coming to UCSD:


Robert explained that UCSD only supports the direct access ramp from the new carpool lanes onto campus, and cited the buses they will bring onto campus.  Unfortunately this distinction was not made in any of the article I read indicating UCSD’s support for the freeway expansion.  Also, I’m unable to find any mention of planned bus routes for the new lanes.  Assuming the lanes will be like those on I-15 where solo drivers can pay to use them, the lanes will simply enable faster access to campus for wealthy North County residents, while not providing a robust public transit alternative to taking the Coaster and waiting for a shuttle to campus.

Speaking of the Sorrento Valley Coaster station, one benefit of the Genesee Avenue widening project shown above is that it will include a new bike path to the Coaster station from campus.  On the negative side, despite the Genesee bridge being expanded, there was only room for a painted bike lane, not a buffered or protected one.  This is also the case for the new Gilman bridge over campus.

One bright spot are the trolley stations coming to campus; the west campus station will include bike lockers, a public gathering space, some potential retail, and a new walkway connecting to the Price Center.  Another positive is the plan to replace some of the Mesa housing at the southeast corner of campus with new multi-story buildings, including micro-units for graduate students.  This would also have the potential to connect with the businesses across Regents Road there.

Overall however, UCSD remains largely isolated from its surroundings, especially the businesses and residences on the south side of La Jolla Village Drive.  While there is a pedestrian bridge, LJVD is practically freeway-like and dangerous by design to pedestrians and people on bikes.  UCSD has taken positive steps to create village-like settings on campus; it would be great to see them connect with villages off-campus too, as other colleges are doing around the country.

4 Responses to complete contradiction streets


R Van Vleck

January 19th, 2015 at 10:09 pm

Paul, thanks for your advocacy around the College Ave bike lanes. It’s sad that San Diego doesn’t have a single neighborhood that feels like a college area, especially “College Area.” I suspect that many talented students have selected other universities to attend as a result of this. SDSU’s South Campus Plaza project, and the Complete Streets elements it will fund, is an opportunity to create safer streets in an area that desperately needs its.


Sabrina DiMinico

January 22nd, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Hi Paul, just want to clear up a few things since 99% of what you “reported” in your blog is inaccurate. I have been open about my identity as a founder of Care About South Park since we issued our first press release on November 11th requesting transparency from Todd Gloria about the South Park TargetExpress project. Mark Arabo is not a spokesperson for Care About South Park. He is the President and CEO of the Neighborhood Market Association. We are aligned in our opposition to a TargetExpress coming into South Park but we are independent organizations. Care About South Park is speaking out on behalf of the many people in the community who oppose the TargetExpress due to the negative impact it will have on our neighborhood and Mark is speaking out on behalf of his members, whose independent businesses in and around South Park will be negatively impacted by a corporate chain.
Not that it’s at all relevant, but you have not identified my current employer accurately. I won’t bother to correct you, because as a homeowner in South Park, I’m entitled to want to protect the neighborhood in which I live regardless of where I work. The one thing you did copy and paste correctly was the “gem” about me shopping at Target but not wanting one in my neighborhood. Let me explain the logic behind that. Mission Valley and Sports Arena are both well-established commercial areas that are densely populated with corporate chains. When purchasing a home in San Diego, I specifically chose not to buy in these areas because I personally don’t want to live in a dense commercial zone. And that’s not a slight against people who do. We all have preferences and choices. And if the residents of Mission Valley or Sports Arena wanted to oppose yet another chain opening in their neighborhood, I would support them and certainly wouldn’t expect them to give up their fight so I could personally shop at said chain. Again, everyone has a right to protect the neighborhood in which they live. The TargetExpress will only be 18,000 sq feet whereas the average full sized Target is over 100,000 sq feet. South Park residents will still have to drive to Mission Valley and Sports Arena to get things that the TargetExpress won’t carry. I, and many of my neighbors, on the other hand will never shop at another Target store again if TargetExpress comes into South Park.

What our neighborhood wants and needs is a grocery store and there was and is one who is interested that would be a perfect for us. However, we have been lied to by Mr. Hirmez, who stood up in front of members of the community at the Greater Golden Hill Planning Committee meeting on October 8th and told us that he wanted to retire and Target was his only option because no other grocery stores wanted the space or could afford the improvements needed to the building. So if you want to add some new and interesting information to your blog, perhaps you should research that story and report back with some facts that have actually been corroborated beyond a simple Google search.



January 29th, 2015 at 2:45 pm

thanks for the intelligent counterpoint on Target. I have friends in the neighborhood that are really against the Target, but I think your points are quite valid too. I hope that if the Target comes it works out well for the neighborhood. I lhavent shopped at Target since the whole campaign finance brouhaha, but i know it is an important shopping destination for a lot of new families.


paul jamason

January 29th, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Hi Heather thanks for your comment. I wasn’t thrilled about the campaign finance story either, or the attempted treatment of their Canadian employees. Target is far from my ideal store for this location, but I’d rather all of South Park (and nearby residents) have the right to decide whether it’s successful, instead of a minority of residents blocking it.

Also, I think we get into dangerous territory when we dictate whom a property owner can lease to, even though the tenant is following the rules for the site (which Target appears to be doing).

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the last bookstore

7 Jan

A ferris wheel has been proposed for the San Diego bayfront, near the Midway museum. While it’s not exactly the most innovative idea – several cities now have these giant ferris wheels – it does at least get people thinking about our valuable public space on the waterfront, and the best way to use (or not use) it.

The San Diego proposal reminded me of my recent experience on the Las Vegas wheel, which is located behind the new Linq casino (which replaces the Quad, which replaced Imperial Palace) and was named “Best New Attraction of 2014” there. At 550 feet, the High Roller is taller than any building in San Diego, thanks to downtown’s FAA-imposed height limit. Four of the pods feature open bars, which will answer the question “How much can I drink in half an hour?”. One of the things I liked most about the Vegas wheel wasn’t the ride itself, but rather the pedestrian-only walk leading up to it, where people were lingering and enjoying a rare public outdoor space:


In contrast to the promenade, the Linq’s owners chose to extend a giant middle finger to pedestrians on the bustling Strip by fronting it with a giant blank wall:

Long blank walls are death to areas that function on pedestrian traffic. For anyone walking by, but not going through the Linqperial Palace, this creates a unfriendly dead zone on the strip. Now the idea may exactly be to direct the traffic inside the casino. But poisoning the strip is a crappy way of doing it.

The Linq’s wall is a sharp contrast to other casinos that are revamping their frontage from dead space and driveways to restaurants, markets and “vibrant patio cultures“. The Cosmopolitan features a bar that looks out directly onto the Strip. These casinos realize the value in the heavy pedestrian traffic outside and are trying to draw them in, rather than repel them like the Linq does. Even the new basketball stadium proposed for the Strip features a large pedestrian area:

Victory Plaza, a 300,000-square-foot streetscape lined with retail and restaurants, is being billed as a Times Square-like experience with Las Vegas sensibilities. Planned to be the social heart of the urban-scaled project, it includes pedestrian walkways, event spaces, rooftop dining, and public balconies overlooking the street below.

– A weekend trip to L.A. was a fun way to finish off the holiday break. Baco Mercat is part of the burgeoning restaurant scene downtown, and their baco flatbread sandwiches are pretty amazing. I’m a big octopus fan and their dish, with chorizo, a walnut vinaigrette, cranberries and olives, was the best I’ve had. A trip to dim sum spot Elite in Monterey Park yielded flavors superior to those we’ve had in San Diego (or L.A.’s Chinatown, for that matter).

Our hotel in L.A. Live was near a whole lot of downtown construction, including the billion-dollar Fig Central project which features three 40+ story towers and 450,000 square feet of retail. To the north, the Metropolis mixed-use project will be the largest mixed-use site on the West Coast, and include the tallest residential tower (58 stories) in the city. Curbed has a map of the vast changes coming to the L.A. skyline.

Here are some pictures from the L.A. trip in no particular order… it was our first visit to the postmodernist Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels:



Next door, the tower of the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts beckons:


The unfinished, honeycombed Broad Museum next door to Gehry’s Walt Disney Hall has been revealed:


As we walked around the city, we were amazed at just how fast drivers go – 50, 60 mph on downtown streets.  But when you build 7-lane one-way streets like this block of Figueroa, what do you expect?


The Last Bookstore downtown was a trip, with some off-kilter art and several galleries located upstairs:





I’m grateful to have a cultural resource like L.A. so close.  Hopefully this year we’ll get up there more often.



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Balboa Park received new energy-efficient lighting last month, including varying colors projected on the park’s buildings:



We snapped this picture after taking in the 20th Century Icons exhibit at the Museum of Art yesterday. The exhibit, which ends January 27th, features artists from Picasso to Warhol; works from Miro and Rothko were personal favorites.  While you’re at the park, the San Diego History Center has an informative new film, “Balboa Park: The Jewel of San Diego” that we saw on an earlier visit.  Also don’t forget that the California Tower opens to the public on New Years Day – the first three days are already sold out.

– Coachella’s a fun music festival, but its location often means the fest’s electronic artists pass over San Diego due to the event’s no-compete radius clause.  But now Coachella’s promoter, Goldenvoice, is helping to put on the CRSSD electronic music festival at the new Waterfront Park in March.  The festival’s proximity to the Santa Fe Depot Amtrak station makes for easy public transit access, and it’s encouraging to see the new park being used for a music event.  Let’s hope this site won’t meet the same fate as the Embarcadero Marina Park South, where bass-heavy nighttime concerts have been banned due to noise complaints from Coronado residents.  Here’s the lineup (I’m partial to Chromeo, Flight Facilities, Classixx, and Tensnake):



– The new City Heights YMCA has had its opening date pushed back (again), this time from 1/3 to 1/24… The folks at Urban Angels asked me to mention their non-profit organization, which provides meals to the homeless downtown, and even helps them transition to jobs and permanent housing:

Urban Angels is committed to providing daily breakfast and dinner to residents of Connections Housing, and also feeds homeless San Diegans at the Salvation Army each Wednesday. This is admirable, but it’s not what makes them so cool. In addition to providing meals, Urban Angels has launched a Social Enterprise program where they actually employ Connections Housing residents part time to help prep the meals, teaching them job skills and helping to build their work history. The ultimate goal is to find program participants a full time job, once they’re ready. The program only launched in April 2014, and already 4 out of 5 of the participants have been able to transition out of Connections Housing and into a more permanent living situation. 


– In Normal Heights, Sparky’s auto repair sits just east of Blind Lady Ale House on Adams, and we noticed a For Lease sign up on the garage today.  Seems like an ideal older structure to convert to a restaurant/bar… We finally dropped into The Rabbit Hole nearby for lunch today and the service is definitely a notch up from Heights Tavern.  The menu is also a bit more diverse, although we went the bar cuisine route with their filling Maui onion rings, Meat Love burger and fish & chips.  There’s a solid selection of mostly local craft beers on tap too… We also scratched The Patio in Mission Hills off our list a few weeks back.  The garden wall was as impressive as we’d heard (not my picture of it unfortunately), and even had a few poinsettias thrown in for the holidays.  My memory of the evening is now as fuzzy as my garden wall photo, but I do remember the scallops were pretty amazing.



Fish Public here in Kensington closes tomorrow; we enjoyed our meals there, but maybe now we’ll get the Cucina Urbana we hoped for when owner Tracy Borkum closed Kensington Grill… Still waiting on the Stehly Farms Market to open here too; January supposedly, but we haven’t seen much activity at the site… The building that houses the forthcoming Pappalecco on Adams here got a new awning and a new art gallery, Gallery 4204… Kensington Video is set to close in February and I’m curious what might replace it; in the meantime, check out their time-warp website for kicks… With all the craft beer options south of I-8, I don’t get up to the Miramar breweries too often.  So when friends in north county proposed a trip to AleSmith and the new Ballast Point brewery/bar/restaurant there, I jumped on the Rapid 235 bus up to Miramar Transit Station and took Uber from there.  This Ballast Point is gigantic, with indoor and outdoor bars (I do prefer the Little Italy location’s bar to the Miramar one shown below), a massive dining room, and ample outdoor seating. We especially enjoyed their limited-release Toasted Coconut Victory at Sea Porter. 

While it was a Saturday evening, the place was absolutely packed with young people.  It was another reminder of just how big craft beer has become throughout San Diego.




– Leo Wilson, chair of the Uptown Planners community planning group, has filed a lawsuit to remove the buffered bike lanes that the city painted on 4th and 5th Avenues in Bankers Hill after a recent street repaving.  His attorney for the lawsuit is Jim Mellos, another Uptown Planner.  Wilson objects to the elimination of an auto travel lane, saying that the city’s original bike plan only called for narrowing of existing auto lanes, and therefore the bike lanes are not exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act.   Yes, Wilson is (ab)using a law designed to help the environment to kill an environmentally-friendly project – because his unfounded concerns over traffic are more important.

Wilson never mentions that the city’s entire bike master plan has had an environmental impact review performed, as required by CEQA. Or that state law AB417 “provides environmental (CEQA) exemption for all elements of a bike plan that don’t involve construction – meaning bike lanes are no longer subject to environmental review.” Or that the master plan allows for significant modifications, including changes in bike lane classification – which can require removal of auto travel lanes.   And the lane reduction idea for 4th/5th is not a new concept as Wilson insists; it was recommended in a 2005 city report to address dangerous auto speeds in the neighborhood.  

Auto Level of Service can no longer be used to kill transit projects in California. But let’s play Wilson’s game anyway. In his lawsuit, he cites daily traffic counts (12000/day) as justification that congestion and/or diversion to other streets will occur – yet never actually demonstrates that peak hour traffic volume will exceed the lanes’ carrying capacity. That’s because it won’t: using the 10% peak hour rule of thumb, and even multiplying by 2 for a one way street, peak hour volume on 5th is 2400 cars/hour at most. Yet urban street capacity is 1600 cars/hour, or 3200 cars/hour for two one-way lanes; a visit to 5th at rush hour yesterday showed no traffic congestion.

Wilson says construction on 5th street will result in auto travel lane reductions to one lane, yet some of this construction has already begun and removes the bike lane, not an auto travel lane. Frankly, if we used temporary future construction projects to stop public street improvements, none would ever occur.  He’s concerned over traffic diversions to 6th and cites the high number of accidents there as proof of traffic flow issues.  Yet these accidents are due to excess lane capacity that encourages high traffic speeds – not high traffic volume.  In fact, 6th is an ideal street to implement a 4- to 3-lane (plus center turn lane) road diet, since its daily traffic counts are less than 20000 autos (the federal rule of thumb for implementing road diets).  This would reduce speeds and make 6th a much more pedestrian-friendly gateway to Balboa Park.  But Wilson opposed road diet efforts for 6th, citing fast auto flow as a higher priority than pedestrian safety:

Although most of WalkSanDiego’s endeavors gain praise, the organization is not without some controversy. For example, Leo Wilson, chair of Uptown Planners and a Sixth Avenue resident, called the proposal to trim Sixth Avenue to two lanes “unrealistic.”

“It’s difficult for us as community leaders but we have to balance on one hand that we want pedestrian improvements but on the other hand people are going to use automobiles,” he said. “We strongly oppose [the lane reduction] in Bankers Hill. That is a major arterial; thousands of people drive it. I consider that a traffic clogging measure, not a traffic calming measure.”

Wilson said he agrees with WalkSanDiego’s mission but that its ideas can “go to extremes” at times.

“When they talk about huge lane reductions, the discussion goes from increasing pedestrian amenities to utopianism,” he said. “I think those of us in the community planning process need a balance.”

Wilson also rails against the lane diet and crosswalks on 6th here:

He points across Grape Street toward a row of modern townhouses where, he says, one current Uptown Partnership board member, one former board member, and a senior project planner for the partnership reside. Wilson explains his final complaint regarding the parking organization. “Here’s where some members of Uptown Partnership’s board of directors live, and here’s where they want to put in flashing crosswalks, install roundabouts, and reduce the number of lanes of traffic from four lanes to two. They live within 500 feet of the improvements. I’d say there’s some conflict of interest.

Despite his claims of caring about pedestrian infrastructure and traffic calming in his lawsuit, it’s clear what Leo Wilson’s priorities are:

1) Fast, unencumbered flow of auto traffic – except in “residential” western Bankers Hill (I guess all those condos on 6th are empty).

2) Abundant parking.  Wilson opposed a safe bike lane that removed parking in Five Points and the SANDAG bike lane that removed parking from University.  Meanwhile all of his traffic flow concerns for 4th/5th could be addressed simply by removing one lane of parking from each street instead of a travel lane. Unsurprisingly, he never recommends this. Mr. Wilson also opposes any closures of the Cabrillo Bridge into Balboa Park because his on-street parking concerns trump the public’s enjoyment of the park.

Wilson’s lawsuit expresses concern for the “public safety” of drivers on 6th Avenue. What about the safety of people on bikes? I had an SUV come within inches of me while riding on 6th Ave a few years back. He also says “don’t assume we’re opposed to removing (an auto) lane on 5th Avenue“.  If that were the case, why is his Metro CDC organization pushing for a 2-way contraflow bike lane on 4th Avenue, instead of removing an auto lane on 4th and 5th? This proposal, an alternative to SANDAG’s proposed Class 1 bike lanes on 4th and 5th, has been rejected by the organization; it would require traffic signals to be installed at every intersection.

My opinion is that this is yet another Leo power trip. He and a group of mostly older San Diegans want to decide mobility in Uptown for all, including younger generations, using ideas for transit that are stuck in the past. Younger Americans are increasingly choosing alternative modes of transit, including biking. Yet Wilson’s crew continues to cling to auto-first notions like the 1960’s Level of Service concept, while ignoring the alternative transit mode share goals of the city’s Climate Action Plan. And here’s another example of the egos involved: when DecoBike presented their station plans for Uptown, Wilson told the presenter that the station in front of the Atlas building on 5th was a problem, because there were several lawyers that lived there.

Wilson’s lawsuit says his group represents the Bankers Hill community, yet he is disliked by many there, and has never attended a Bankers Hill Residents Group (BHRG) meeting. He even skipped the city’s presentation of the 4th/5th bike lanes to BHRG.  He also claimed to represent Bankers Hill in his support of the Balboa Park Jacobs Bypass Bridge, when many residents opposed the plan that would have permanently damaged the park.

Uptown deserves a planning chair who considers the needs of all residents.  If you’ve had enough of Mr. Wilson’s arrogance and disregard for people on bikes, please sign his resignation petition.

2 Responses to city sued over bike lanes



January 3rd, 2015 at 10:16 am

It’s safe to say that if a travel lane had been taken to create diagonal parking on 5th, no one would be complaining.

Yet we know, that free/low-cost parking INCREASES traffic and congestion, increases VMT’s and hurts Level of Service. Would Leo Wilson sue over more parking? Of course not. I suggest a new word: “Car-Supremacist”.


paul jamason

January 4th, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Good point Walt. Way to point out Leo’s hypocrisy… and that’s an apt term to describe his actions.

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the cool kids

28 Dec

Catching up here after a busy month. After finally finishing our landscaping project, we made it downtown one late afternoon recently, where I’d never noticed how great the new library looks at dusk:


Across the street, Bean Bar is open and fulfilled my pour-over coffee fix. The owners are from Portland and were “inspired to open the kind of coffee bar they’ve been missing since leaving the Pacific Northwest”, says Eater:


A few blocks to the northeast of the library, Stella (Italian; picture below) and Halcyon (coffee/cocktails) are now open. The park that the two adjoined establishments look out on is really coming along too. With an ample outdoor patio this should be a great warm weather spot in the East Village.

The Barrio Logan sign had just been lit so we headed over there from Halcyon for a picture.  SANDAG’s Facebook page says “The 80-foot long arch features Mayan, Aztec, and Kumeyaay motifs and spans Cesar E. Chavez Parkway between Main and Newton. The project was built by SANDAG, the Port of San Diego, and Caltrans and included other street improvements to make this culturally rich area more pedestrian-friendly.”

In North Park, there have been several openings – Streetcar is serving up Intelligentsia coffee, pastries and fried chicken at 30th and Lincoln, katty-korner to where Crazee Burger is moving. Unfortunately they had just stopped serving the latter so we’ll have to try it next time.


Nomad Donuts and Fall Brewing have both opened on 30th, north of El Cajon.  And Saiko Sushi is open at 2884 University in the former Labor Ready space.

Just off El Cajon Boulevard, the city has approved Community Housing Works’ LGBT-friendly project at Texas and Howard:

As North Park booms, Hillcrest continues to struggle with multiple closures – most recently, Social Experiment. Eater asked, “Is the area no longer a dining destination?” On twitter, some suggested high rents and lack of pedestrian traffic as contributing factors. Others, such as Uptown Parking District president Tim Gahagan, feel there are simply too many restaurants in the neighborhood. Instead of a virtuous cycle of more people supporting more businesses supporting more people, many in Hillcrest oppose any new residential construction there, because their parking and traffic concerns are more important than our city’s housing crisis (only 20% of millennials can afford to live here). But in my opinion, Hillcrest is the ideal place to add more residences, given its proximity to transit and downtown.

When I suggested marketing Hillcrest’s walkability (as West Hollywood does), I was informed that:

From walking the streets of both neighborhoods, it seems the cool kids are already choosing North Park over Hillcrest. If I owned one of the remaining businesses in Hillcrest, I’d be marketing to everyone, not just gay people. And the anti-bicyclist rhetoric that many members of the business community engage in is just more divisiveness that doesn’t benefit the neighborhood. Especially when one considers the past intolerance neighborhoods like Hillcrest have overcome.

Calling a proposed safe bike lane a “War on Motorists” and “meant to discourage gay people from visiting” is silly, but that’s what we’re hearing. And when I remarked that Urban Mos new, street-facing surface parking lot will detract from the neighborhood’s walkability, I was told objecting to it was “homophobic” and would kill all of Hillcrest’s gay businesses. How does reactionary rhetoric like this attract new businesses or younger San Diegans to Hillcrest? Especially when North Park offers lower rents and less bike hate, one neighborhood away.

On a brighter note, there’s word that the successful Sunday Farmers Market in Hillcrest could expand to Wednesday nights. I’d love to see a summer night market concept (like Vancouver’s for example) featuring food trucks. Another positive recent development is a proposed parklet in front of Heat Bar and Kitchen on Park Blvd. This project was presented at a recent Hillcrest Uptown Parking District meeting and all in attendance (except president Tim Gahagan) voted to allocate parking district funding toward replacing a curb cut next to the parklet. With the 7-story Robinson and Park project going in across the street, this stretch of Park is really looking up.

Sean Walcott from RideScout joined me at the above meeting. RideScout is sponsoring get-togethers around town to promote the various modes of transit that the their app features (in real-time), from public transit to bike share to ride sharing. Sean mentioned that even the Hillcrest Parking shuttle could be incorporated if they published their real time transit feed. RideScout’s next community event is “From Point A to Point P(B)” at the Java Earth Cafe in Pacific Beach on January 8th.

One item we didn’t get to on the meeting agenda was the Hillcrest and Bankers Hill Community Collaborative’s suggestions for SANDAG bike projects. The collaborative is composed of business owners concerned over the loss of parking as a result of accommodating people on bikes. I was disappointed that the Collaborative met recently without inviting any bike advocates, or members of the Mission Hills community – despite pushing for a bike route (the Hillcrest Jog) that runs directly through their neighborhood. The Mission Hills resident who did attend received a dressing-down from Crest Cafe owner Cecilia Moreno, presumably because Mission Hills Town Council has voted to close University at Washington to auto traffic. The closure is part of the SANDAG plan to reduce auto traffic on west University in its Uptown Bike Corridor.

The Collaborative is also concerned about loss of parking on 4th and 5th for the SANDAG protected bike lanes proposed there – some parking will be removed at curb cuts and intersections for sight lines (about 5 spaces per block, on average). The current city-painted buffered bike lanes there are already being challenged in court by Uptown Planners Chair Leo Wilson – more on that in another post. I’m encouraged that the Bankers Hill Design Group is looking at alternatives that will make up the lost parking while retaining the SANDAG bike lanes.

Quickies: DecoBike stations are installed in Uptown and Hillcrest, and the program should be online next month… Dero, who supplies the new bike racks you’re seeing around downtown, has made a $2500 donation to Bike SD… Hub and Spoke Cycleworks did the bike valet at last month’s Bike SD party and I wanted to give them a shout out for their mobile (pick up and delivery) bike maintenance and tune up services… LA is using new parking technology to maximize street parking turnover and usage – we’re still waiting on smart meter deployment in Uptown… WiFi is finally coming to San Diego buses – well, some of the rapid ones at least… The San Diego Caffeine Crawl returns to town on 1/23 and 24.

3 Responses to the cool kids


Douglas Scott

December 31st, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Please, note that the Bankers Hill Neighborhood Parking committee voted long ago to support the concept of the bike lanes through our neighborhood, Bankers Hill. We await the final Sandag plan to be able to assess if it meets the needs of our residents and visitors. Also, I believe the Bankers Hill Community Group’s urban design subcommittee (I believe I have the name right?) has opted out of the collaborative. It is my understanding that Hillcrest is the area that has the most concerns about the developments you mention. Bankers Hill does not share their concerns, hence the decision to opt out. Bankers Hill actively looked for additional Deco bike stations because, again, we were overlooked as a speedway between Centre City and Uptown (my perception, at least). We were able to add two more stations, now installed; one at 1927-29 Fourth Avenue, and one just east of the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Hawthorn Street. Finally, Mr. Leo Wilson does not speak for Bankers Hill. No-one that I have spoken with supports this bogus lawsuit.


paul jamason

December 31st, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Thanks for the information Douglas. I wasn’t aware the design subcommittee had opted out too.

I wondered why there were so few DecoBike stations in Bankers Hill. Seems like an ideal place to put them between downtown and Hillcrest. Thanks for the locations.

Good to know there’s little support for Leo’s lawsuit. It’s odd that it quotes community support for when there appears to be none.


Jim Dax

December 31st, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Hi Paul. Great post, thank you. As a 30 year gay metro resident (Hillcrest since 2007) I LOVE wakability and rate it most important in where to live. I love the increased diversity and the little kids in strollers…the more the merrier. As a realtor selling metro San Diego since 1984 I can tell you that Bike lanes and walkability are among the most important factors in where my clients choose to live. Happy New Year to ALL!

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piazza famiglia

23 Nov

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 Responses to piazza famiglia


Andrew M

November 24th, 2014 at 9:35 am

If I haven’t mentioned it before, thank you for your wonderful blog. I love reading it.


paul jamason

November 24th, 2014 at 10:23 am

Thanks Andrew!


Mike Y

November 25th, 2014 at 2:03 pm

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.


paul jamason

November 25th, 2014 at 2:34 pm

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.


Paul Peterson

December 10th, 2014 at 2:47 pm

“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.


paul jamason

December 10th, 2014 at 9:44 pm

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.

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