Pershing, Meade and 4th/5th Ave Bikeway Meetings

Pershing, Meade and 4th/5th Ave Bikeway Meetings

It’s a busy week for the SANDAG Bikeways this week, with two community planning group presentations and a public open house.  The big one is the public hearing for the Pershing Bikeway, which will be held Wednesday at 6:15 PM (doors open 5:30) at the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park:


I can’t seem to find the renderings for the project on the SANDAG page, but it will address the incredibly dangerous section of Pershing near I-5, where bicyclists must navigate drivers accelerating onto two high-speed freeway onramps.  This terrifying navigation isn’t always successful: there were 13 bicyclists injured (two severely) from 2004-14 on Pershing.  A separated bikeway and reduction of auto lanes from four to two will greatly increase safety:


Opponents of the project say that no bicyclists deserve safe facilities, because some of them run stop signs; meanwhile, fatalities caused by inattentive drivers are at an all-time high, yet we keep building roads.  Last Saturday we saw an SUV (likely speeding in the wet conditions) up on the guardrail on Pershing, just inches from flying into the canyon below.  

Pershing Bikeway opponents also claim the changes will cause huge traffic delays, but a traffic study performed for the project shows no significant effect.  “We don’t believe it” is the predictable response from some residents on NextDoor.  The traffic study, which only considers automobile level of service, was required by the City of San Diego for compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.  This is because the City still hasn’t adopted a state directive from 2014 to evaluate a project’s impact on *all* modes of transit, not just drivers.  If the City is serious about its Climate Action Plan, why is it still only measuring auto delays while ignoring how bike lanes reduce vehicle miles travelled and carbon emissions?

– SANDAG will be giving an update on the Meade Avenue Bikeway Tuesday at the Normal Heights Community Planning Group (4649 Hawley, 6 PM).  The update is in response to opponents who have been demanding changes that would result in no parking loss.  Currently, the project will remove a small number of spaces around intersections set to receive traffic-calming circles and crosswalks.  

I often bike this route and the intersection visibility is terrible – drivers have to pull into the street to see what’s coming, because there’s only a small red-curb section on two of the four Meade intersection corners.  It also lacks crosswalks.  Drivers speed well over the posted limit, and I had one driver come within a foot of me as they passed.   Given the above, and the City’s adoption of NACTO recommendations specifying 20-foot no-parking buffers around intersections, there is no way to make Meade safer for all users without some on-street parking loss.  Even without the 20-foot buffer, installing just a crosswalk would still result in one parking space loss on one side of the street (the other side is already red-curbed). 

Opponents claim they simply have no on-street parking to “give” – as if they own the public street space for their personal car storage – and some have suggested their property lines extend halfway into the public street.  Meanwhile, bike lane advocates, who hoped for protected bike lanes on El Cajon Boulevard, but ended up with unprotected lanes on Meade (to preserve street parking on both streets), can only wonder how much more their safety will be compromised while attempting to get a single safe bike route through the neighborhood.

– At the same time as the Meade update, SANDAG will be doing another at Uptown Planners (Tuesday, 6 PM at Joyce Beers center) regarding the 4th/5th Avenue Bikeways.  Attendees will also be able to provide input on aesthetic elements of the project.  

If you can attend any of these meetings to voice your support, please do.  Be aware that speaking out for a single safe bike lane in your community may get you labelled as an “extremist biking lobbyist“, but treat it as a badge of honor.  Opponents will be present at all three, so it’s important that SANDAG and City officials hear both sides.  

Downtown’s housing boom

Downtown’s housing boom

The fountains are on at Horton Plaza Park downtown

KPBS published an article this week on efforts to overcome opposition to density and new housing in San Diego.  As housing prices continue to skyrocket, frustration with self-interested residents is boiling over: 

NIMBYs — a pejorative term that stands for “not in my backyard” and is meant to describe opponents to new development — are fighting to keep the system as it is.

“We are facing folks who are very anti-density,” (Borre Winckel) said. “And density has become kind of a four-letter word, for reasons that are completely insincere. People are talking a great deal about wanting more housing, but not near them.”

Winckel pointed to a (rejected) plan by Habitat for Humanity to build 22 affordable housing units for veterans on an empty lot owned by the city of Poway. A number of residents mobilized against the plan, saying while they support affordable housing for veterans, the project was too expensive, would increase traffic and would not fit in with the neighborhood.

“It’s disgusting,” he said. “NIMBYs are the greatest threat to densification. They don’t want it, but they don’t want it for any articulated reason other than self-interest. And I’m not buying that.”

This is hardly unique to San Diego, so a positive sign in Santa Monica recently was voter rejection of a particularly severe anti-density measure.  Prior to the election, Vox pointed out the hypocrisy of residents who advocate for low carbon policies while preventing housing in their urban communities, thereby promoting sprawl and excessive carbon emissions:

In many growing urban areas, residents (mostly older, wealthier, whiter residents) are working hard to slow and block densification. They are doing so even as they celebrate their own eco-friendliness with back yard chicken coops, rooftop solar panels, and f’ing canvas tote bags.

The cognitive dissonance is reaching absurd levels.

“Progressives” who contribute to inequality and climate change by excluding others is a familiar concept to those of us who attend community planning group meetings in Uptown and North Park.  Fortunately things are looking up downtown, where more than 1600 proposed housing units were approved this month at Civic San Diego.  The $200 million Park and Market project on city-owned land (where proceeds will go toward affordable housing) from Carrier Johnson was one of those approved:


The recently-approved units are on top of more than 4400 units being built downtown, including the 330 units at the mixed-use 19-story Alexan development just east of the downtown library: 


Check out San Diego UrbDeZine’s development map for all the ongoing and new projects.  New hotels are also going up downtown – here’s a recent shot of the Pendry Hotel on 5th Ave, looking close to completion:


Speaking of downtown hotels, we finally saw the new pedestrian access to the harbor that the Marriott Marquis added earlier this year: 



While the passageway isn’t much to look at – it could use some more public art, for example – it certainly makes getting to the bay front more convenient from downtown.

– The one project that didn’t make it through Civic San Diego this month is the Jonathan Segal housing development planned for Union and Cedar streets.  It seems not everyone who lives downtown is into the whole urban living thing, preferring a suburban, cars-first approach.  Residents complained about the project’s lack of off-street parking, despite the fact this would significantly reduce rental prices:

This approach… was condemned by two neighbors, Denise Nelesen and Michael Smith. They said Little Italy residents and businesses face chronic parking and traffic problems. “The notion of creating this type of development with no offstreet parking is ludicrous,” Smith said. Director Phil Rath said state and local zoning allows for such a no-parking plan, but director Robert Robinson said it was “unfair” to the community.

As cities across the country remove minimum parking requirements to make housing more affordable, San Diego caters to residents like Nelesen (apparently the wife of County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis?) and Smith, who demand developers build and charge for parking in all development, regardless of whether residents or patrons need it.  Nelesen appears to work nearby at the County Administration Building, so couldn’t she avoid the parking and traffic problems she complains of (and are inherent to every healthy downtown) by simply walking the few blocks to work? And if these Little Italy residents want more parking and less traffic, why choose to live in a downtown neighborhood in the first place? 

In North Park, the senior housing complex on Iowa Street is complete, and San Diego Housing Federation has moved their office there:   


If you’re thinking of making a charitable contribution before the end of the year, SDHF seems like a great option.  Their executive director, Stephen Russell, has advocated for affordable housing before hostile audiences in North Park and Uptown.  

– CicloSDias was held in North Park a few weeks ago and thankfully the rain held off until the event ended.  Here’s some pictures from a very fun day:







– The LA Times reviewed the Louis Khan exhibit at San Diego Museum of Art; I’m hoping to get over there sometime during this long holiday weekend.

Fair at 44, an international food and crafts market on El Cajon Boulevard near the YMCA, started up recently and runs on Wednesdays at lunch and dinner.  We enjoyed some tasty Jamaican jerk chicken and Cambodian beef on a stick.