Browsed by
Tag: little italy

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.
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.