Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream had their soft opening today at 3077 University in North Park. Located just west of Urbn Pizza and part-owned by a good friend of ours, they’re serving 32 delicious flavors of Hawaiian Tropical Dreams ice cream just in time for summer:
Between today and their appearance at the North Park festival a few weeks back, my favorite ice cream samples have been Salted Caramel, Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Oreo. Jay’s Mint Chocolate Chip featured full-size chocolate morsels, not those chopped-up bits. I have to stick with sorbet for the most part and they’ve got 4 flavors, all of which are tasty.
The interior has some cool touches, like the rack of ice cream serving spoons:
…and the sundae glass chandelier:
I also like the gathering table made of a thick slab of eucalyptus from a local tree that fell over. And there’s a street-facing counter where you can watch University and North Park grow more vibrant by the day.
- Looks like Polite Provisions/Soda & Swine is drawing a crowd: seafood shack Beerfish is moving in next door on Adams, according to Eater. I like the big outdoor patio with picnic tables and pitchers of craft beer, all from the Sessions Public owner. Portland’s got patios like this all over town, so with our weather, why aren’t there more neighborhood spots like Station Tavern that offer communal outdoor seating?… Two new ice cream spots are close to opening, just in time for summer – Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream in North Park on or around June 7th, and Moosie’s in Kensington… Common Theory Public House and its 60 taps is open on Convoy, but you have to look hard to find those Asian entrees on the menu.
- 2013 was the summer of bicycling in New York City, as the Citibike bike share debuted and riding took off across a new network of protected/dedicated bike lanes. Could 2014 be the same for San Diego? With the DecoBike launch set for next month (look for an updated station map on June 2nd; over/under on # of rejected Uptown stations: 10) and the city’s new downtown Bike Loop in place, it’s off to a good start. Part of that bike loop includes new dedicated bike lanes on 4th/5th in Bankers Hill, shown below. Those bike lanes only extend up to Laurel, since higher traffic volumes north of there likely made it tougher to remove an auto lane. As you can see in this video I took at rush hour last Friday, removing a lane has no impact on traffic flow. Eventually these lanes will extend all the way to Hillcrest (and hopefully be protected) once the SANDAG Uptown Bike Corridor is implemented.
While these are big, positive developments to biking in San Diego, it’s worth noting the significant opposition to them. The chair of Uptown Planners doubted the city’s traffic counts showing excess capacity, and residents spoke against them because of increased emergency response times. In the article above, a retired psychologist doesn’t even bother with these strange excuses and cuts right to the real reason: bicyclists are a “minority” unfairly taking lanes from drivers who “own” all the lanes (glad she wasn’t my therapist). Yet even after the conversion, 7 lanes are still dedicated solely to auto travel and parking in each direction, when 4th/5th/6th are considered. Hopefully future discussions on bike lanes can focus on the utterly false conviction that some drivers can exclude bicyclists from safely using roads – public infrastructure we all pay taxes to maintain.
When even Forbes magazine recognizes the advances bike transit is making, something must be up:
More Americans are choosing to bicycle for everyday transportation. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of bicycle commuters grew 40 percent nationwide, and was even greater — 77 percent — in the some cities, according to the report. Yet “government funding of safe bicycling projects is not keeping up. Though biking and walking account for 12 percent of all trips in the U.S., these transportation modes receive only 1.6 percent of federal transportation spending.”
- I read that AAA is offering bicycle roadside assistance in the northeast, so I asked them if they’ll be adding it in southern California. Here’s their response:
Dear Mr. Jamason,
Thank you for contacting AAA.
We do not have immediate plans to offer bicycle service in our market. We will be monitoring the program and services offered by AAA Southern New England and others and evaluate the potential for bicycle roadside assistance for our market in the future. We regularly review our member benefits and continually evolve our benefits to meet our members needs and wants.
For further assistance please reply to this email and thank you for your membership loyalty.
AAA Online Customer Support Team
Automobile Club of Southern California
It’s a good sign that an organization that’s been hostile to bicycling is beginning to provide these services, even if they’re not available here yet.
Elsewhere, Lemon Grove Avenue recently received green bike lanes and is starting on their Connect Main Street pedestrian/bike plan. And on a related note, Civic San Diego and the Downtown Partnership held a workshop this week on the mobility plan for downtown, and they’re actively promoting alternative transit modes and place-making. It’s a stark contrast to Uptown, where a 1970′s mindset prevails (from Walt Chambers’ summary of the recent Uptown Streetcar Feasibility Study meeting):
It was an exciting “blast from the past” last night at the Uptown Planners meeting on the Urban Design Element of the Community Plan Update (CPU).
Leo Wilson, Chair of the Uptown Community Planning Group cited Former (disgraced) Mayor Dick Murphy when claiming that lack of parking in Hillcrest was causing blight in that neighborhood.
Wilson also reiterated his belief in Level of Service (LOS) as a good Environmental and Development tool.
Although LOS has now been widely discredited – and recently removed from CEQA Requirements by State law, Wilson still wants to base the next 30 years of the Community Plan on 1970′s planning that has now been outlawed by the State.
In the 21st Century, we know that many communities became non-places and subsequently blighted when they became pock-marked by parking lots. Excess free/cheap parking also induces traffic. Eventually, too much parking solves its own problem because nobody wants to go to a “non-place” designed for cars … which frees up a lot of parking.
Likewise, LOS as used in an urban environment, actually creates more congestion and traffic, and does more harm to the environment, and restricts smart development. That is why it was removed from CEQA requirements.
Welcome to the 21st Century, Uptown Planning Group
While Uptown Planners may say they support walkable neighborhoods (BTW, to age well: walk more), the governor’s office has declared Level of Service to be anti-pedestrian. You can’t have it both ways, and it’s clear that driver convenience is still the top priority for our suburbs-in-the-city planning set.
Meanwhile, in Balboa Park, there’s a new director at SDAI, which hopefully means some better art for sale at their semi-annual C-Note events, which have grown increasingly lackluster. Also, this letter writer thinks we should bow down to our wealthy, elderly Balboa Park philanthropist overlords and build that damn Jacobs bridge and parking garage! Never mind that attendance is up (not down as the author states) while Cabrillo Bridge has been closed to cars; that there’s 14 handicap spaces in the “closed” Alcazar Garden lot (it’s open); that a service road leads directly to the Globe; or that we gained an awesome new public plaza by removing the parking lot in Plaza de Panama. While the author states public transportation to the Park is “pitifully behind the times”, he then says we should funnel more cars into the heart of the park – instead of, say, making public transit better. Spoken like a true established San Diegan.
- Ironside from the Craft and Commerce folks is open in Little Italy:
…and they’ve done it again on the interior. Here’s a photo of the bar:
…and another of the art deco-touch of black tile and gold trim on the interior columns:
Like their other locations, Ironside has plenty of attention to detail and quirky design features. The individual bathrooms feature a shared sink basin built into the wall, so you might bump hands with your next-door neighbor if you’re washing at the same time. Seafood is the focus of the menu, and while we didn’t sample any oysters, the octopus and fish appetizers and entrees were solid, if not as spectacular as the cocktails. There are 7 different sections to choose from on the drink menu - I had a champagne-based drink from the “Uplifiting” section and the “3 Dots and a Dash” rum concoction that was served in a kitschy Shamu mug.
- Circa is open in the former Farmhouse spot on Adams in University Heights. It carries on Farmhouse’s neighborhood feel and cozy ambiance while switching out the French menu for a concise American one. Our meatloaf and chicken & dumplings entrees more than made up for the slow-ish service, and it was fun to dine on the front patio and listen to the record player spinning old jazz… also on Adams, Java Joe’s made its debut during Adams Ave Unplugged:
…when the street was filled with pedestrians, bicyclists and slow cars all co-existing peacefully, at least from what we saw.
- The owners of Blind Lady Ale House and TigerTiger have been selected to take over the Sculpture Garden space in Balboa Park with a yet-to-be-named restaurant/bar. This news is awesome in so many ways, especially because the park is finally acknowledging it’s not just tourists and elderly philanthropists that visit. Actually, there’s a broad range of residents, many of them young, who frequent our regional resource only to find the expensive Prado restaurant (usually booked with a wedding) and comatose Sculpture Garden Cafe as their sole dining options. Kudos to the Park for acknowledging our city’s craft beer craze, late as they may be. And can the restaurant spill out onto the new car-free Plaza de Panama, like cafes do throughout Europe, or is there the usual San Diego alcohol ordinance that prohibits this?
- More beer: Modern Times’ North Park Flavordome tasting room is the first commercial space to soft-open in the new North Parker building. Like their brewery near the Sports Arena, there’s a lot of WTF design details, from crazy lamps and lampshades on the ceiling to a floppy-disk wall portrait of Gremlins 2′s Gizmo rocking the Rambo headband? (doesn’t look like Yoda to me). And how did they get the bathroom wallpaper on each vent frame line? The outdoor seating is a bonus but could use some shade from our strangely scorching spring weather. The beer is delicious as always, with some special selections on tap; I had the “Funky Lomaland”.
- The Waterfront Park opened last weekend at the County Administration Center and it was fantastic to see so many people enjoying this great new civic space.
Add some art and sculptures and this could be our version of San Diego’s Millennium Park. More pictures on flickr.
- The status of the Civic Innovation Lab is up in the air, but I really enjoyed two recent talks they hosted on transit-oriented development in Arlington, VA (a dying inner-ring suburb brought back to life by the Metro) and a tactical urbanism presentation by Mike Lydon. For the latter, they created a temporary space for people to enjoy in the Linda Vista library parking lot, using benches and trees. These projects are great because they’re relatively quick to accomplish, and show opportunities where we can return auto-devoted space to people. Look for one in Hillcrest this summer; I’d also love to see one behind the North Park Theater since the planned pocket park there has stalled after the state redevelopment program died. Meanwhile a pocket park is being constructed downtown at 13th and J.
- Too late in the post now to get deep into bike lanes and bike share, but it’s been disappointing to hear opposition to the DecoBike program in Uptown (“we’re going to remove 2 parking spaces for a bike share no one’s going to use?) and La Jolla (“not one inch of public sidewalk and not one parking space!). And a recent meeting in North Park regarding the proposed SANDAG bike lane on Landis brought out the “my free on-street parking is more important than pedestrian and bicyclist safety” crowd – even though there will be no parking loss.
The biggest contradiction in North Park came from the gentleman who worried about his children’s health (reverse-angled parking fumes going into their bedrooms) and safety (they won’t know how to cross a roundabout), yet railed against slowing auto traffic on Landis because of the “congestion” it would bring. So kids, remember – roundabouts are hazardous to your health, but speeding traffic on your street is good! He also wanted SANDAG to prove that the sharrows on 30th have increased bike ridership. He need only look to this study in L.A. where ridership increased 132% after they were installed.
Denver’s Union Station overhaul attracts 1 billion in private funding, and their transit-oriented development fund builds affordable housing near light rail stations around the city. Washington D.C.’s NoMa TOD project turns around a blighted neighborhood, while southeast D.C. continues its revitalization with the Nationals ballpark and smart growth at The Yards nearby:
Drawn by affordable housing near jobs and seeking alternative transit options, several of these places are among the top cities millennials are moving to. According to a new survey from the Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America, younger Americans want “low-cost transit and multiple options for getting around the city“:
More than half of respondents said they would consider moving to another city if it had better access to public transportation. And 66% listed high quality transportation as a top factor in deciding where to live.
Why is it important to attract (or in San Diego’s case, retain) younger Americans? Because the modern industries that drive our economy need a diverse pool of qualified workers. This is particularly true here, where our hourglass economy and lack of middle-class housing has negatively impacted the region. A recent study indicated San Diego was the 8th most unaffordable metro out of 381 analyzed. Millennials are leaving San Diego at the third-highest rate in the nation for cities like Austin, seeking affordable housing and transportation choices beyond driving. Meanwhile, our city is projected to add 1.3 million people by 2050, largely due to birth rates. There’s no stopping this growth, even if you erected a wall around the city.
So, with a $1.7 billion investment in the Mid-Coast Trolley Extension, set to run from Old Town to UCSD/UTC in 2018, it made sense that the city would implement transit-oriented development around stations planned for Bay Park and Clairemont Mesa – not to mention that federal funding for the line could go to another city more willing to do so. Situated at the edge of these communities, along a pollution-spewing freeway, this is hardly a prime area in the heart of an existing community. The trolley line’s cost would be much higher if it ran right through Clairemont, due to land acquisition costs. Instead, Morena Boulevard’s current mix of retail and warehouses offers a potential opportunity to create the city’s next Little Italy.
Proposed building heights ranged up to 60 feet to meet the higher (20-30) dwelling units per acre recommended for transit oriented development, which in some areas exceeded the Clairemont Mesa 30-foot Height Limit Overlay Zone. In many cases, buffers between existing residential areas and the proposed development area exist, and buildings were to be “stepped back”, away from current housing.
So that’s the case for transit-oriented development, let’s see what the above area’s residents think. From the Morena Boulevard station proposal:
(Morena Boulevard Station workship) attendees were adamant that the existing 30’ height limit (in the Clairemont planning area) be enforced. Of particular concern to this group were blockage of views and the introduction of too much development in an already established neighborhood
Uh-oh. Surely there are some Clairemont Mesa folks who recognize the value of smart growth and sharing the region’s new population; after all, from 2000-2012, the neighborhood only added a couple hundred housing units over and above the 20,000 that existed prior to that. They do realize they’re located in the center of a city, not in some distant exurb, right? Here’s a Bay Park resident who’s twitter profile says he’s “open-minded”:
Well that’s… not so open-minded. People in Clairemont Mesa can’t really think we should shut the door behind us because we got here first. I mean, what if someone did that before we arrived? Surely they’ll offer their own alternative… maybe propose a reduction in some building heights, but at least make a token effort to work together for the city’s economic future. This Voice of San Diego commenter seems to address this:
It is not the responsibility of the residents to offer an alternative. You want to take a regional problem and dump it on them. And offer them nothing. And yes, it IS a good thing (we) got in (before we closed the door on others). I sure hope you’re planning your life as well as (we) did.
Yikes… so maybe it’s really not just about building heights and views, or even putting all new growth solely downtown – not that we could realistically fit another 1.3 million people downtown anyway.
They’re actually advocating no-growth. But since much of our growth is going to come from within, do we somehow prevent other people from having children? Also, it puts us in line with zero-growth (and economically suffering) Detroit and Buffalo rather than forward-looking, economically diverse cities like Austin and Denver.
Many San Diegans simply don’t want anyone else added to the city (unless it’s their children, of course). They want the amenities a city has to offer, but they don’t want the potential inconveniences of a successful city – traffic congestion, fighting for parking spaces. Car dependent neighborhoods might seem great in low-density suburban settings, but the resulting traffic and parking tends to “suck” once you add things like “jobs” that large cities offer.
Since established San Diegans drive everywhere, they assume any new residents will too – even those who’ll live right next to a new rail line serving job centers downtown and at UCSD (and is part of the seventh-most used light rail system in the nation). Every new resident is just another person on the freeway on-ramp in their minds. Yet after decades of low-density sprawl that have filled the freeways to capacity, including voter-approved 4S Ranch, it’s the public transit development that must be stopped. Demolish blocks of mid-city for the SR-15 freeway? No problem! Build middle-class housing along a new trolley line? Never! They’re fighting alternative transit options and forcing their car dependency on younger Americans who can’t afford it – and likely don’t want it in the first place.
Last week, the above recommendations for higher building heights in the Morena Boulevard Station Area were killed by the City Planning Department, with nationally-recognized smart growth leader Bill Fulton writing the obituary to City of San Diego Smart Growth Committee chairperson Lorie Zapf (Zapf represents part of the Station Area). Zapf’s role on this Committee is laughable given this development, but her upcoming election opponent, Sarah Boot, caved to the NIMBYs too – as did temporary councilperson Ed Harris, who represents the southern part of the Station Area (Harris has a meeting about the project this Wednesday). Was there even any effort by our elected leaders to discuss larger regional growth issues with their constituents, or was it impossible over the screaming?
As long as younger San Diegans remain disengaged, and community planning group meetings look like the set of a Geritol commercial, our elected leaders are going to continue to cave to the loudest voices and folks who turn out for every election, not just the presidential ones. Meanwhile NIMBYs are putting on-street storage of private vehicles over safe bike lanes and preventing dedicated lanes for bus rapid transit:
The El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association surveyed local businesses and found 74 percent didn’t want to surrender a traffic lane. Stephen Russell, an architect, was executive director of the El Cajon BIA who later worked in Councilwoman Toni Atkins’ office when she represented the mid-city area. He said the project didn’t have the support it needed. “I think it was a shame that it got dumbed down, but it’s hard to hoist changes onto a community when you don’t have a constituency that’s participatory,” he said. “The people who are most loud simply don’t use the system, and don’t see it as relevant to their lifestyle. There are class issues in that. I heard businesses who didn’t want ‘bus people’ there.”
To justify their no growth approach, NIMBYs say they’re protecting the environment. In reality, they’re just protecting their car-dependent, resource-intensive, low-density lifestyle. Higher density development near public transit is far less resource-intensive than the unsustainable miles of roads and utilities required by our sprawled city – not to mention the additional issues of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The same can be applied to their “infrastructure before development!” arguments, which ring a bit hollow now.
The NIMBY epidemic isn’t limited to Clairemont Mesa. It’s a city-wide problem, with examples of residents fighting density increases in near-downtown (or transit-served) neighborhoods like Hillcrest, Mission Hills, Golden Hill, and Grantville. Then there’s the Allied Gardens residents opposing senior housing because it threatened their community pool parking (and because “we’re a unique community of single-family homes only”), and OB Rag deploring “horrendous parking and traffic” impacts from an 8-unit mixed-use project.
In Hillcrest, Uptown Planners recently elected a slate of anti-growth older white men to the board. Meanwhile, on that Mardi Gras night, an ethnically diverse crowd of young folks partied just outside, unaware that their chances of securing affordable housing in Hillcrest someday just became even more remote. Middle class housing is of little concern to “progressive” Uptown residents like the couple who run Hillquest.com and rail against reasonable height limits, density and bike lanes. They’ve got their own little piece of paradise overlooking a canyon in Bankers Hill, so why should they accommodate anyone or anything else that might inconvenience their car-dependent lifestyle? It’s the same progressive NIMBY hypocrisy of Berkeley’s Zelda Bronstein, who’s profiled in the new book “Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of Urbanism“. Author Benjamin Ross describes her fight against both transit-oriented development of a BART parking lot, and bike lanes.
Real progressives embrace change, and we owe it to our city and its future generations to think beyond ourselves. Let’s participate in community planning group meetings – you can sign up for email notices here. And check out Circulate SD, the merger of Move SD and Walk SD, who advocate for public transit, bike infrastructure, and walkable neighborhoods.
To end this long rant on a positive note, check out the transit-oriented development going on in Lemon Grove. The five story Citronica development (shown below) next to the trolley is an affordable-housing success, there’s a new senior facility nearby, and a new linear park and Main Street promenade is planned for the area. Hopefully projects like this can serve as a model for other communities to consider.
- CicloSDias 2 was a few weeks back, one day after the Bikes and Beers ride from my previous post. I’m biased toward North Park so I preferred the inaugural event there, but it was still great to see lots of people out on bikes along Garnet and Cass Streets:
With DecoBike launching soon, and with so many of its stations downtown (station map/list/graphics), how about putting the next CicloSDias there? Give participants free rides and watch those membership numbers take off.
Unfortunately, CicloSDias paled in comparison to the astounding number of bicyclists and participants at CicLAvia on Wilshire Boulevard the next weekend. I really enjoyed the emphasis on Wilshire’s architecture, which I’d never fully appreciated before while driving in heavy traffic:
We also enjoyed seeing the Wiltern, El Rey and other theaters along the route. For lunch and craft beer, we walked a block up Vermont to Beer Belly in Koreatown, where the parking lot was overflowing with bikes. After that we rode the rest of the route back to our hotel a block from Wilshire downtown.
The rest of the LA trip was also fun – on our way up we got to see the impressive bike infrastructure in Long Beach, and we also biked over to the Arts District in eastern downtown LA, home to the first Stumptown Roasters in southern California:
The Arts District is undergoing a big change, with upscale restaurants and a market having moved in (complete with a dozen EV charging stations in its lot). More pictures from the trip
Back in San Diego, the Port of SD had a good presentation last week on the future of our region’s bay front, and how it’s often disconnected from the neighborhoods that surround it. Some interesting ideas included an “Emerald Necklace” of parks ringing the waterfront, parks that run perpendicular to the bay front to draw neighborhood residents to the water, reducing physical barriers to the bay, and incorporating a grand, pedestrian-friendly boulevard. This is just the beginning of the planning process, and the Port has a survey you can take to provide your long-range vision input.
Across the street from B Street Pier where the forum was held, Lane Field is set to finally shed its parking lot status with the approval of two hotels on the north end of the lot, and a 150-foot green space setback:
And just east of Lane Field, MCASD is holding Public2 this weekend:
…a celebratory reopening of the renovated North Plaza and One America Plaza, directly across the street from MCASD’s downtown location.
This free two-day event will feature music and dance performances, exhibition tours, art-making activities, silent discos powered by Silent Storm, artist workshops and more to encourage the community to “take back” this public space as a communal locale for gathering and creating.
Over in Little Italy, Ironside from the Craft & Commerce folks is open on India street, and the interior pictures on Eater look really cool. The owners’ attention to design details really shows again here.
We watched the Padres at Petco Park Sunday and they’ve really stepped up their local craft beer selection – there’s a new Green Flash stand beyond the outfield, a new Mission Brewery stand inside, another Ballast Point bar, Draft, and a Stone bar we didn’t get to. And the Goose Island and Kona stands are nice additions too, although the latter was there last year, I think.
Afterward we had dinner at Lucky Liu’s across from World Market, from the Celadon folks; hopefully this will put a dent in the lack of quality Chinese places downtown. Why is Chinese cuisine so often reduced to Americanized slop served up in depressing buffets and MSG-laden lunch specials? Here, the pork buns were one of many highlights (as they were at the recently-shuttered French Concession in Hillcrest – same owner) and it was good to see plenty of vegetarian options on the menu. Once they get their liquor license they should be all set.
Two more sightings downtown: Union Tap (out of Encinitas) coming to the former Donovan’s Seafood spot on 5th, and Bottega Americano set for the Thomas Jefferson Building.
Coming up this weekend: