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Tag: mid-coast trolley

End Local Control

End Local Control

CA State Senate Bill 827, which would remove local control over housing near transit, is generating a lot of press:

  • Curbed has a good interview with the bill’s author, Scott Weiner, who addresses much of the flat-out-wrong arguments that SB 827 opponents like Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin are using 
  • Ethan Elkind points out how hypocritical the Sierra Club has become as this environmental organization opposes a bill that would reduce environmentally-harmful sprawl – just to keep the donations rolling in from wealthy urban NIMBY homeowners
  • 130 tech executives have signed a letter in support of SB 827.  But why stop with tech companies?  Nearly all the UC campuses are having difficulty attracting and retaining tech talent due to the extraordinary cost of housing.  My employer, UC San Diego, has a 15-month waiting list for ‘affordable’ off-campus staff housing at $1500/month for a one-bedroom.  While new on-campus staff housing is planned, it’s still several years off.  Shouldn’t the University of California be advocating for more housing in their communities, and bills like SB 827?
  • Meanwhile, the Raise the Balloon folks in Bay Park are rallying support against the bill, and housing near the $2.2 billion dollar Mid Coast Trolley in general.  These trolley stops are exactly where large-scale new housing is needed for UC San Diego and UTC employees:

  • Voice of San Diego printed a remarkable opinion piece from a suburban author opposing smart growth housing near transit while offering no alternatives.  It was flabbergasting to read a long-term San Diego resident proclaim that urban, multi-family housing made her feel “unwelcome”, and that it shouldn’t be built because of poorly-planned development in San Carlos and Mira Mesa (that her own family lived in).  Translation: “The cheap, car-dependent suburban sprawl that my parents and I benefited from should prevent housing near transit for my kids”.  She then went on to criticize the low quality of public transit in sprawl areas, and low transit ridership – while failing to acknowledge that the poor public transit quality likely caused the low ridership.  Seattle is a great example of robust transit growth when transit riders are given priority, but no suggestions on how to improve transit (funding) were provided.   

Speaking of transit:

  • MTS has a progressive new director, Georgette Gomez – a refreshing change from the unnecessary anti-bicyclist comments from former Republican director Harry Mathis
  • The first phase of the MTS Transit Optimization Plan has increased frequency on urban routes and brought Sunday #11 bus service back to my neighborhood!  I’ve been taking the 11 to the new Trader Joe’s at SDSU and it’s really convenient.
  • SANDAG will have a grand opening ceremony for a new segment of the Bayshore Bikeway on Saturday, February 17, 10:00 a.m. at 1400 Tidelands Avenue, in front of the Port District general services building.  At Bike SD we’re hoping to do a post-event ride to check out the IB Bikeway Village, now open for business.
  • The Union Tribune covered last week’s groundbreaking for the Rose Creek Bikeway
  • Drivers only pay half the cost of roads, and they’re falling apart as a result.  California’s new gas tax, which tried to address this, could now be overturned by drivers opposed to paying their fair share
  • San Diego’s Vision Zero seeks to greatly reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths, but this week brings another example of its Traffic Engineering Department giving zero shits about the cause.  When told of drivers ignoring a “Yield to Pedestrians” sign, endangering street-crossers, their answer was, “The yield sign tells drivers to stop“, and that traffic flow necessitated green lights directing drivers to plow into people in a crosswalk.  Well done!  Maybe we can go back to removing crosswalks in San Diego for pedestrian safety.
  • Lots of coverage of the Mid-Coast Trolley construction on Genesee Ave last week, so here’s lots of pictures of the construction further west on the UCSD campus (and a shot of the Gilman Dr. bridge): :
Chuck Alek Biergarten

Chuck Alek Biergarten


Ramona’s Chuck Alek Brewers beer garden opened recently behind Tostadas on University in North Park, bringing the first outdoor tasting “room” to the neighborhood. The garden is a mix of picnic tables, plants, and a walk-up beer window (about ten on tap, minus a couple that were tapped out) that overlooks the space:


Menus from Tostadas are on hand for ordering food  and the garden is fairly kid-friendly.  A few more trees or umbrellas would be appreciated, especially with hot summer sun not too far off.  In the beer department, their IPA was not quite as hoppy as what I’m used to in San Diego, but the porter was more true to form.  Eater has more details on this welcome new outdoor space.


On Adams Ave, French restaurant Et Voila has opened in the former Fiesta Market, where the building looks so much better with a fresh coat of paint and all those signs removed from its facade:



Again, Eater has a good writeup on their menu and some pretty interior shots.  With Tajima going in next door, Blackmarket Bakery set to open south of Polite Provisions, and Beerfish just west of Soda and Swine, the intersection of Adams and 30th is really turning into a dining hub.

– Gordon Carrier from Carrier Johnson presented the proposed Strauss on 5th project in Hillcrest between Walnut and Brookes.  It’s a 72 foot, 6-story apartment building with 141 (24 of them affordable), and many studios and one bedrooms.  Currently the lot is two parking lots and a small apartment building:

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My pictures from the slide show are pretty sad, but since there’s no renderings online yet…

I’ve updated the post with renderings from Carrier Johnson (thanks Vicki!):
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The prominent cap on the building raised some ire, and I’m not totally sold on the “window” in the middle of the building, but the project provides badly-needed new market rate and affordable housing in Uptown.

It was interesting to watch the reactions of Uptown Planners Mat Wahlstrom and Leo Wilson to the project.  They both stated recently that all new development in Uptown is unaffordable, and therefore we shouldn’t allow any.  Yet this project includes affordable units and studios.  Thus Wahlstrom pivoted and criticized the loss of 20 parking spaces – even though the project includes far more parking than required by the city, with three levels of underground parking.  If Wahlstrom is truly concerned about affordable housing, wouldn’t he be arguing for the elimination of parking minimums that contribute upwards of $200/month to the cost of an apartment?  Either the affordable housing argument is just a smokescreen for plain ‘ol NIMBYism, or housing for cars is just more important than housing for people.

For a more sensible approach, check out this new CirculateSD report on how parking minimums are barriers to smart growth. Or read this recent planning exercise where parking minimums made sensible residential development impossible.  If San Diego politicians were serious about addressing the housing crisis rather than just talking about it, they’d have done away with our parking minimums years ago, as many other cities have.  But then they probably wouldn’t get re-elected, given the demographic turnout for local elections.

– The Mid-Coast Trolley extension to UTC may still be five years away, but that hasn’t stopped Costa Verde Center from releasing an ambitious plan incorporating the terminus station that will front this retail center on Genesee.  Renderings in this big pdf show bike lockers, bikeways, pedestrian-friendly features and a rooftop park for patrons exiting the elevated station:

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 11.08.34 PM– Downtown, Bosa has traded in their conservative condo tower design for Aqua-lite on their 42 story project coming to 777 Front Street:


San Diego doesn’t have much in the way of daring or remarkable high-rise architecture.  Let’s hope this project starts to change that.