Carnival of Caffeination at Modern Times

Carnival of Caffeination at Modern Times

Modern Times has announced their newest annual festival, Carnival of Caffeination, which will be held at their new event space on Kurtz St. behind the Sports Arena:

A meticulously selected cadre of incredibly bad-ass brewers and roasters will occupy our new warehouse & event space, The Fortress of Raditude, for a day of pure, liquid magnificence.

On hand will be a jaw-dropping arsenal of dark, coffee-centric, and barrel-aged beers alongside a king’s ransom of dazzling coffee-creations from some of the most boss-level roasters in the universe

Scroll down on that link to see the list of breweries and roasters.  Modern Times has been putting out some amazing variations on their Black House coffee stout, including a new Nitro with coconut and cocoa:

I’ve been to two of Modern Times’ festivals now and they are a ton of fun.  Profits from the event go to BikeSD (again!), so mark your calendar for February 11th .

– Since the first SANDAG Bikeways presentation way back in September 2012, I’ve attended several of the 90+ outreach events for these Regional Bike Plan Early Action Program projects, and a few Downtown Mobility Plan meetings. But last month’s Pershing Bikeway and Meade Avenue Bikeways meetings were the first time I’ve witnessed an overwhelming majority of speakers supporting safe bike lanes.

First, thanks to everyone who came out in support of these projects. After years of setbacks and delays, the broad support felt like a turning point. The Meade Bikeway meeting at Normal Heights Community Planning Group was particularly surprising – there were no negative comments against the project. And opponents’ arguments against the Pershing Bikeway were either easily dispatched (SANDAG’s traffic study disproved concerns over traffic delays) or downright silly, like this resident’s claim that traffic calming is “social engineering“:

This gem came from a SoNo Neighborhood Alliance representative, who vowed to block future bike safety projects in the community. I’m not sure how converting a freeway-like road to make it safer for all users is “social engineering”, while decades of building roads exclusively for drivers isn’t? Given SoNo’s opposition to anything that improves equity – including new housing in North Park – they are actively defying their own mission statement of “building consensus” and “achieving compromise”. When every street in North Park is dedicated to moving and storing cars, opposing the only north/south bike lane in the community isn’t “compromise”.

– The positive developments on the projects above were tempered by the City’s foundering Complete Boulevard study on dangerous El Cajon Boulevard. Armed with a $175K grant from SANDAG to address the high rate of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and deaths on this corridor, the City set out to propose:

“multi-modal mobility infrastructure improvements within the El Cajon Boulevard corridor between Highland Avenue and 50th Street, and will produce a planning study that includes preliminary engineering drawings for the highest priority improvements. The mobility infrastructure improvements envisioned for the corridor are intended to help realize the transformative potential of the Rapid Bus service in Mid-City by creating a more walkable, bikeable, and transit-friendly street corridor”

…yet its study ended up only suggesting basic pedestrian improvements and a short buffered bike lane in one direction. And that’s it – even after going back to the drawing board (and the SANDAG funding trough) when advocates noted the study’s lack of any bike infrastructure.

How did this critical study on one of the city’s Vision Zero corridors go from “multi-modal mobility infrastructure” to just crosswalks and sidewalk bulb-outs? Despite a street parking usage rate of just 46%, and loads of off-street parking, the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association, Little Saigon Business District and City Heights Community Planning Group all refuse to accommodate a bike lane on El Cajon Boulevard at the expense of any parking. Community planning group board members attacked the bike lanes at their meeting last month:

“It’s for Hillcrest and SDSU, and we’re just a corridor,” said Kenton Finkbeiner. “It’s really not meeting the needs of our community.”

His colleague, Jim Varnadore agreed. “We’ve been somebody’s passageway for too long,” Varnadore said. “What we should be thinking about is safety that protects pedestrians, not what a few bicyclists want.”

Varnadore has a long history of opposing bike infrastructure and made snide comments about bicyclists at the prior City Heights planning group meeting I attended. Is Jim aware that it’s possible for safety improvements to benefit pedestrians *and* bicyclists?

I didn’t understand what Finkbeiner meant, so he clarified for me that bike lanes are for “white collar” outsiders only, and are “insulting”:

This reminded me of Uptown Planner Mat Wahlstrom’s comment that “only white people ride bikes”, but these misguided volunteers planning our communities couldn’t be any further from the truth: most bicyclists are lower-income immigrants. Is bicyclist Omar Avila, injured on El Cajon Boulevard by an SUV, a white collar outsider? And here’s a recent tweet about the full bike racks at the El Cajon Boulevard YMCA (which I can personally attest has a wide range of incomes and ethnicities among its membership):

Finkbeiner declares that all City Heights residents are car commuters because of high residential street parking demand, which is also just completely wrong; in reality,  “City Heights has one of the lowest rates of car ownership in San Diego, with only about a third of households owning a car.”  He then implies that no parking on El Cajon Boulevard can be allocated to a bike lane, because there is “no parking in residential areas” of City Heights. This ignores the City’s strict off-street parking requirements for most residences.  In fact, it has a set of guidelines regarding conversion of existing garages, since “garages were built to provide required off-street parking”.  

Here in ‘white-collar’ Kensington, we’ve had some residents convert their garages to personal businesses, who then park on the street and worsen residential street parking demand.  Yet the City’s residential zoning requirements state that operating a business out of your residence “shall not eliminate or reduce required off-street parking”.  Surely this isn’t happening in City Heights too, especially among the most vocal critics of bike lanes?

The most intriguing question is why would Finkbeiner, an environmental planner and San Diego Canyonlands volunteer, invent reasons to attack bicyclists who are helping the environment? I’m not the only one to notice a disturbing pattern of hatred toward bike advocates within my own gay community and its allies, often coming from high-profile members like Wahlstrom, Finkbeiner, Jonathan Hale, Tim Gahagan and Jim Winsor. Apparently some in our community who demand tolerance and equality view these principles as a one-way street… with no room for people on bikes.  

Another argument used against bike lanes on El Cajon Boulevard is that the nearby proposed SANDAG Bikeways make them ‘redundant’, despite bicyclists needing safe access to businesses on ECB. The author of the Reader article above, a (former?) opponent of the Meade Bikeway, states that the Meade route runs parallel to the study’s stretch of El Cajon from Highland to 50th. However, Meade Bikeway actually ends well west of these blocks:

Instead, it’s the Monroe Bikeway that runs parallel to the Complete Boulevard segment, and that Bikeway has been hung up between the City and Talmadge residents feuding over prior vehicle access issues. There is no guarantee that the Monroe Bikeway will be built, and if it is, it will likely be well after the Meade Bikeway’s 2019 completion date (again, these Bikeways got started in 2012). The same could also be said for the Orange-Howard Bikeway also cited by the Reader author, because it doesn’t have a planning/construction timetable yet either. The icing on the Bikeway cake is that the SANDAG Transportation Committee now requires its own final approval of all Bikeway projects (instead of just CEQA exemption) before passing them on to the full board, for yet another final approval.

Absent from any of these conversations is the staggering ($15 billion) cost to California from gas-powered vehicle impacts on climate and health, particularly in lower-income communities such as City Heights. Like the SoNo Neighborhood Alliance opposing measures that would increase equity in their neighborhoods, a group of residents and business owners in City Heights are doing the same on El Cajon Boulevard – while casting bicyclists as the villains. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

UC San Diego coming to downtown

UC San Diego coming to downtown

UC San Diego will lease the building shown in the foreground

A couple posts back I listed several new mixed-use projects planned for downtown.  Last week’s news that UC San Diego will lease and improve the four-story building set for the Park & Market project was a pleasant surprise – of the 35 largest U.S. metros, San Diego is the only one “lacking a major public or private university campus location within, or adjacent to, the central business district boundary.”  While this isn’t an entire campus, having a significant UC presence downtown is a big positive for San Diego – enabling potential collaboration between the university and private companies nearby.  

The downtown outpost will connect to main campus via the UC San Diego Blue Line trolley.  As a UCSD employee in a department that’s evaluating offsite work options, the downtown location would be a short MTS Rapid Bus ride away, and much closer than main campus. 

There’s plenty of change happening on the main La Jolla campus too – trolley line construction has begun, which will require a move of 6th College from the Pepper Canyon area to the (current) giant surface parking lots north of Muir College:

Both the 6th College rendering above and the trolley/pedestrian connection to campus can be seen in this flyover simulation

– In Mission Hills, the business district there has posted a video of the Jonathan Segal mixed-use project The Fort, located at Hawk & Ft. Stockton.  It features an “8-story mixed-use building with 20-residential units (3 Very Low Income housing units) and 6-offices”:

Fort Stockton – The Fort – Teaser Video

Even though it’s located in front of the only tall building in Mission Hills – the senior housing tower put up by the feds back in the 1970’s (along with similar towers on Park Blvd. in North Park and downtown) – the 90-foot tall building sure seems like a stretch for a community where many residents were apoplectic over the five-story Mission One building.  Despite Mission Hills being located just minutes from downtown, in a metro of 3.3 million people creating 37,000 new jobs a year, the wealthy homeowners of neighborhood NIMBY organizations Save our Heritage and Mission Hills Heritage say traffic and street parking concerns trump safer streets and housing for others.    

When asked for examples of new construction built under MHH’s now-dead Interim Height Ordinance, MHH Director Barry Hager famously cited the Snooze AM building on 5th Avenue – which contains a total of zero residences.  MHH’s long-winded 25-page comment (p. 53) to the Uptown Community Plan Update was largely (and rightfully) ignored by the city council, because land costs in Uptown are simply too high to build housing at the lower height limits and downzoning MHH advocates.

Research shows the exclusionary zoning promoted by these residents reduces productivity and makes the poor poorer, while their “opportunity hoarding sharpens the divisions between ordinary and upper middle class Americans”:

Culturally, homeowners clamor to preserve what they regard as the “character” of their communities, by which they mean things like traffic, and the race and social status of their neighbors.

In addition, these residents worsen sprawl by pushing new housing far away from jobs.  When Mission Hills Heritage was called out on this by, of all people, the conservative Union Tribune editorial board back in 2008, their responses predictably dodged the question.  Eight years later, nothing has changed – except new visualization tools showing the sea level rise resulting from these policies:

Much of downtown San Diego, including the airport, will be underwater under a minimum global warming scenario

– Despite its Climate Action Plan and housing affordability crisis, San Diego still requires developers to include costly off-street parking downtown (unlike many other cities).  F11, a 7-story, 99-unit mixed-use project coming to F and Park is the latest example of an expensive subterranean dig, despite being located near a jobs center and multiple transit options – including the trolley and 2 new rapid bus lines:

F11 will feature “a multi-level subterranean parking garage with space for 103 vehicles, recreational amenities and 5,841 square feet of ground-floor retail space.”

– In Bankers Hill, The Park at Palm and 5th/6th has topped out.  It was scheduled for completion in early 2017, but that might be pushing it given its current state:

– At Adams and Bancroft in Normal Heights, Frank Auto Repair has been demolished for a 3-story, 11-unit mixed-used project:

Just west of there, across 805, Tajima has opened next door to Et Voila, and El Zarape has opened in the former Casa Adams location:

Yes they have the $1 fish tacos the Park Boulevard location is famous for.

– Stick a fork in Hillcrest, it’s done – S&M is the latest casualty in a declining neighborhood: 

…while the owner of recently-shuttered Salt and Cleaver notes Hillcrest’s slumping economy and the likely reason:

“Unfortunately, as of late we’ve observed what is hopefully just a temporary slump in the Hillcrest economy — perhaps it’s a lack of new developments.”