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SayNo! Quality of Life Survey

SayNo! Quality of Life Survey

Andrew Bowen from KPBS posted a link on twitter recently to the SoNo Neighborhood Alliance Quality of Life Survey that closes on 1/31 and will be presented to city officials.  Several people who responded noted the leading nature of the questions in the survey – here are a few of the tweets:

The questions are indeed a bit biased.  But that’s not surprising, considering the group opposes new housing, bike lanes and businesses that don’t meet their criteria – despite promising to “to work together” with all residents.  So I thought it would be fun to take some of the survey questions and describe SoNo’s (SayNo’s) likely underlying meaning.  Enjoy!


Please indicate the extent that the following issues cause problems in your South Park North Park (SoNo) neighborhood 
(Not a Problem/Somewhat of a Problem/A Very Big Problem/Not Sure):

1a. Lack of City adherence to Code Compliance and Zoning for residential and commercial properties (No Airbnb in our neighborhood!)

1b. Lack of bike lanes on roadways (Remember when we called safe bike lanes ‘social engineering’? [video])

1c. Increased Housing density (i.e., “Densification”) (We got ours… our children will just have to live somewhere else.)

1d. Preservation of Historic Character (If calling something historic can prevent new housing, then it’s historic.)

1e. Lack of efficient public transportation (We’d never actually ride public transit, but we sure will use it as an excuse to prevent development.)

1f. Lack of affordable housing/rental units (See (1c), (1d), and (1e).  Also, not building any housing somehow creates more affordable housing.)

1g. Non-permitted Marijuana Businesses (75% of our neighborhood voted to legalize marijuana, but residents should drive to an industrial park in Kearny Mesa to buy it.)

1h. Lack of parking on streets (My garage is for storage, not for parking my car – the City should pay for that.  And this is *way* more important than (1f).)

1j. Too many places that serve alcohol (bars, restaurants, night clubs) (North Park was better when we had to drive to Hillcrest because there was nowhere to eat or drink.)

1k. Too few publicly accessible “Green Spaces” (i.e., Parks, Community Gardens) (Even though our neighborhoods are literally right next to the largest urban cultural park in the country.)

1l. Too much vehicle traffic (SD County has 3 million residents, and we live 5 minutes from downtown, but there should be no rush hour congestion… just like every other thriving city.)

1m. Too little representation from Residents, when decisions are made that affect your neighborhood (Only retired ‘R’esidents who can make 6PM Community Planning meetings will decide our neighborhoods’ future.)


Please indicate whether or not you support the following 
(Support/Do Not Support/Don’t Know):

2a. Dispersing affordable housing throughout the city of San Diego (Keeping the poors out of North Park is ‘progressive’.)

2c. A law to hold irresponsible liquor store, bar and restaurant owners accountable for alcohol-related crimes linked to their business practices. (We got a little excited there)

2d. Increasing bicycle lane access on roadways (Roads are for cars!)

2e. More enforcement of zoning restrictions and code compliance for residential and commercial properties (Seriously – did you not get what we were saying in (1a)?)

2f. Densification (Increased Housing Density) (Density belongs downtown!)

2g. Preserving green space (Parks, Community Gardens) (We can’t name a park or community garden that was removed, but we’re really throwing everything against the wall here.)

2h. Stricter penalties for owners/operators of unpermitted marijuana businesses (You will drive far for your disgusting habit hippies – and you will like it.)

2i. A law that requires a residential permit to park in residential areas (Residential parking permits will remain just $14/year, far below the true cost, and continue to be subsidized by other City taxpayers.)

2j. Increased access to public transportation (We demand a trolley that we can later oppose because of construction impacts.)

2k. Building infrastructure before density (i.e., facilities, mass transit alternatives, green space) (We are against the very thing – density – required for the ‘mass’ part of ‘mass transit alternatives’.)

2l. An ordinance that requires the preservation of Historic Structures (A parking lot is a historic structure, right?  Yes, it is. [link])

2m. An ordinance that requires equal representation (Parity) between Residents/Community Members and Businesses on Neighborhood Planning Committees and Councils (But we strongly oppose an ordinance that requires equal representation for young residents and renters. See (1m).)

Downtown’s housing boom

Downtown’s housing boom

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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:

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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: 

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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:

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

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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:   

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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:

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– 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. 

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