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Little Italy Food Hall

Little Italy Food Hall

The Piazza della Famiglia project in Little Italy opens next month, and by summer it will take a cue from Liberty Station’s hugely successful Public Market concept by including a food hall. The hall will include two Public Market vendors, Wicked Maine Lobster and Roast Meat & Sandwich Shop. A food hall makes sense given the large number of sit-down restaurants already in Little Italy, and you’ll be able to bring your meal into the open-air public piazza:

While public squares are commonplace throughout European cities, this is the first of its kind for San Diego, where we’ve long dedicated most of our public space to moving and storing vehicles. Given the piazza’s likely success (Little Italy is doing pretty well), could this spur other urban communities in San Diego to rethink how they allocate space in their commercial districts?

Here in Kensington, where the Heart of Kensington residential group killed a public space in front of the Kensington Commons project, we’ll just settle for a new restaurant in the long-vacant Kensington Vine space.  Tanuki Japanese will be a “coffee bar by day and a sake bar and eatery by night”, according to Eater. This is just around the corner from our block. With the opening of Kensington Brewing and Pappalecco in the past year, it’s great to have more walk-to options in the neighborhood.

Tickets are nearly sold out for next Saturday’s Modern Times Carnival of Caffeination on Broadway Pier. Proceeds go to BikeSD. There’s a pretty amazing lineup of brewers, roasters and food trucks:

Earlier that day I’m hoping to join the celebration for the long-awaited opening of the Centerline bus rapid transit lanes and stations at Teralta Park over SR-15 in Mid-City:

Speaking of freeways, if Caltrans has an annual funding/maintenance gap of $6 billion, why are they spending $8 billion on an environmentally-damaging, sprawl-inducing freeway in the Mojave Desert?

BikeSD recently endorsed Omar Passons for County Board of Supervisors (thanks to all the candidates who responded) because we know he’ll stand up for the rights of bicyclists even when it’s politically difficult to do so. I joined Omar, urban planner Howard Blackson and a group of bicyclists recently for a ride around downtown where we experienced the challenge of riding in a busy area still bereft of safe bike infrastructure. One highlight was hearing architect Mike Stepner’s efforts in creating the notion of the “Gaslamp Quarter“:

Another reason I support Omar is his support for more housing… which means I can segue into yet another batch of housing bullet points:

  • Opposing housing for your kids to preserve your free street parking isn’t “progressive”, no matter what OB Rag says.  I’m excited about the YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County group because it could make many local Democrats consider where they stand on the housing crisis.  The group has its launch party this Friday.
  • David Alvarez, who will be at the launch party, has several suggestions for the San Diego City Council on how to build more housing, including allowing conversion of vacant ground floor commercial space to housing, and “waiving parking requirement for small apartments, condos, live/work units and studios near transit”.
  • Our City San Diego covers San Diego’s growing affordable housing coalition and how reducing parking requirements gives developers more land on which to build.
  • Todd Gloria introduced a state assembly bill to encourage construction of affordable, smaller units close to transit that would reduce parking requirements.
  • Nearly every city in the state failed to reach state-mandated housing goals and will now be required to streamline projects that include affordable housing.
  • Inner suburbs that declare themselves “built out” and oppose housing (i.e., Bay Park) are a major cause of housing crises in cities across the U.S.

    The reality is that most of the housing stock and most of the land area of America’s metros is made up of relatively low-density suburban homes. And a great deal of it is essentially choked off from any future growth, locked in by outmoded and exclusionary land-use regulations. The end result is that most growth today takes place through sprawl.

  • A public workshop on the Riverwalk project in Mission Valley detailed how the 4300-unit project’s new trolley station will be the center of the development’s retail area.  Constructive input from neighbors included “we don’t want your residents parking on our streets” and declaring that Mission Valley would turn into a Mumbai slum.
The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

Sunset lights up the western edge of downtown

I mentioned Tajima’s new spot on Adams near 30th in a recent post, and we dropped in there last month:


Ramen is the focus at this location, and Jay’s order didn’t disappoint.  They also do small dishes; I’ve been on a poke binge recently (we really enjoyed the bowls at Poke One N Half in North Park) and their spicy tuna rice bowl hit the spot without inducing a food coma for the rest of the evening.  The interior is definitely unpretentious – there was still construction dust in the exposed beams next to our table – and the combination of inexpensive prices, simple but delicious food, and craft beer made us wish we had a Tajima even closer to us.  Hey, the Ken Video/VidaJuice space is up for rent again…

Mr. Moto Pizza is close to opening in the former Stuff n Thangs on 30th in North Park:


People appear to love the NY-style pizza at their Pacific Beach location… We walked by Moto after brunch on the sunny patio at Dunedin down the street.  It was our first time back there since we had dinner shortly after they opened last summer, and I’m still amazed at the makeover they did on the former Eddie’s space.  I’m also really impressed by the interior courtyard at the North Park Post Office Lofts (the pictures at that link are better than any of mine) and the design of the already-popular Tribute Pizza there.  The Foundation For Form architects responsible for NPPOL are also finishing up Earnest on 30th just south of El Cajon Boulevard:

We hadn’t been to their You Are Here mixed-use project in Golden Hill since it was finishing up construction four years ago.  It also features a unique courtyard:    

…and a Dark Horse outpost that was celebrating their first anniversary in the space.

Back in North Park, construction at the 35-unit residential project Habitat at 31st is coming along (rendering from Uptown News):

In its rendering, the side of Habitat facing 31st (shown above) reminds me of the North Parker’s design, minus the street-level commercial spaces.

The historic Newman building on University, formerly home to Claire de Lune, is sporting a fresh paint job for incoming Latin restaurant Tamarindo:

Over in Little Italy, site prep work continues for the 129-unit mixed use project AV8 on Kettner, which will incorporate the former building’s facade:

Mish Mash opened last year in the Mercado in Barrio Logan, next door to Iron Fist’s tasting room:

Mish Mash’s specialty is burgers, but their menu also includes interesting items like vegan tempeh tacos and pork belly bites.  They’ve got a variety of beers on tap if Iron Fist’s aren’t up your alley.  And you can top it all off with with homemade ice cream or Mexican shaved ice raspados at Tocumbo across the parking lot.  

We followed that up with a visit to Northgate Gonzalez market across the way.  I’m embarrassed to admit it was my first visit, so I’d never purchased items from their awesome ceviche and salsa counter.

What is going on at Antique Row Cafe… or “The Row Cafe“, as it’s apparently called now:

Jonathan Segal’s 54-unit Park and Polk project has started construction:

Can’t write a housing post without kvetching about our unaffordability crisis:

  • Wired noted that the middle class can’t afford to live in cities anymore: 

    (The) problem stems largely from strict zoning laws that restrict building new housing, and the not-in-my-backyard mindsets of homeowners who oppose affordable housing initiatives.

  • Governing observed how solutions to housing shortages are blocked by “homeowner groups who dislike the impacts of new development and have a vested interest in discouraging it to keep their own home values high”.  They interviewed local YIMBY and Uptown Planner Maya Rosas, who pointed out that much of this board is dominated by residents opposed to new housing.  If we can’t pull the plug on obstructionist community planning groups, I’m hopeful that the City will continue to ignore them – as they did with the Uptown Community Plan Update.  
  • When people donate to Soho San Diego’s mission of historic preservation, do they realize their money is instead going toward lawsuits forcing the City to downzone transit-oriented urban neighborhoods? Overturning the Uptown Community Plan Update, which retains overall housing density from the 1988 Plan (and actually downzones many Uptown residential areas), will worsen our housing problem – period.  Please, when you consider which organizations deserve your charitable donations, choose groups that increase, not decrease, equity. SOHO San Diego and Mission Hills Heritage represent the self-interests (free street parking, traffic and property value profits) of wealthy Uptown residents who seek to exclude others from their communities.
  • With the Chargers gone, the vast empty parking lot of Qualcomm stadium seems like a great opportunity to help address our housing crisis.  
  • The LA Times had an interesting piece on penalizing communities that refuse to build new housing.
  • UC San Diego is adding 1470 new beds for graduate students (nice!) and a 1200 space parking garage (because “Sustainability is in our DNA“).  At $25K/space, that’s around $20 million toward parking for a generation that’s writing off car ownership.  Since more than half of UCSD students will continue to live in expensive off-campus housing even after the above project is completed, why not use that money to build more housing at the site instead?