Holsem Coffee in North Park had their grand opening this week. We were planning on going but Thursday’s deluge took care of that (0.7 inches of rain in just 9 minutes at the airport?) . They’re serving up a variety of specialty coffee drinks and desserts, plus beer and wine will be on tap once the license comes through. They even make their own hazelnut milk. Here’s a picture from yesterday when it and the neighborhood were bustling with the North Park Festival of the Arts. The bright, clean interior design couldn’t be more different from Claire de Lune across the street:
– There’s been several positive changes on San Diego’s long-underwhelming North Embarcadero recently: Waterfront Park, the Embarcadero makeover, Lane Field Park, Broadway Pier (could have been better) and two new hotels under construction. Yet the dining options in the area are still a disappointment. Wyndham shuttered the subpar Elephant and Castle Bar, and we’re still waiting on Carnitas to open in the new Embarcadero space. But Anthony’s Fish Grotto has to be the biggest head-scratcher on the waterfront: a restaurant that hasn’t received an upgrade in 50 years, an outdated menu comprised mostly of fried fish, and a retro-but-not-in-a-good-way bar (solid happy hour specials though). Considering Anthony’s has a 52-year lease, it’s unsurprising there’s been no incentive to improve things. With the lease expiring in 2017, the Port is looking for ways to maximize revenue from the space, so look for big changes and up to 3 restaurants at the location.
– The Port’s getting smart about parking – using smart meters, dynamic pricing and modifying hours to maximize access to the waterfront and decrease circling for spaces, not to mention pollution. After a successful pilot program testing the above, they’re expanding it. One port commissioner even pointed out that the new rates will still be below those of nearby parking garages and noted the city of San Diego’s “free lunch” attitude with respect to parking (and garbage collection, and …). He hoped that the Port wouldn’t adopt the city’s attitude of fiscal irresponsibility. It’s funny how courageous officials can be when they don’t have to appease voters expecting them to deliver that free lunch.
– Welcome news arrived this week in Hillcrest: the Pernicano’s lot is close to being sold after being on the market for 8 months (and dormant for decades). The owner was apparently holding out for a buyer who would build a hotel on the site, but that’s going to be a challenge given Hillcrest’s 65′ height limit. At a Hillcrest Town Council forum last week, Todd Gloria said residents need to be flexible on the height limit to help bring a much-needed new hotel to the neighborhood – one that still has many storefront vacancies despite the robust economy and thriving communities nearby.
Another positive development in Hillcrest: the Uptown Parking District’s free trolley will see double duty starting Monday, with a lunch loop planned to bring Hillcrest Medical Center employees to the neighborhood:
You are cordially invited to join the Uptown Community Parking District in partnership with UC San Diego Health System, Hillcrest Business Association and Hillcrest businesses along with Councilmember Todd Gloria for our ribbon cutting and media event to launch the new Park Hillcrest Lunch Loop!
Learn how this pilot project will decrease the number of cars circling at lunch time and reduce parking impacts! Monday May 18 11:00—11:30 AM UC San Diego Medical Center 200 Arbor Drive San Diego, CA 92103. For more information contact [email protected]
– Next weekend is Memorial Day, but there’s two events on the following weekend to be aware of. The first is the Bike SD Bike Month Bash on Saturday May 30th at the Lafayette Hotel and a ride on El Cajon Boulevard (yes I mentioned it last time but now there’s this cool poster):
Proceeds go to the “Complete the Boulevard” advocacy campaign, which seeks to make El Cajon Blvd safe for all transit modes. Let’s not just make it safe, let’s transform it through art and place-making. ACT: The Blvd, held the day before the Bike Bash, will build on plans to do just that:
– Downtown, The Block is the name of the project on Broadway between 7th and 8th that will bring 41 and 21-story towers, 600 residential units and 20,000 square feet of retail space:
– You know how cool the historic bungalow courts are in our Uptown neighborhoods? The city took one step toward making these possible again, on lots zoned for multi-family housing with their new small lot ordinance. However, the ordinance does not reduce parking minimums, so I don’t see how the old parking-free bungalow courts would happen. Still, it’s a positive step toward providing more housing without creating the vertical “monstrosities” we hear so much griping about from the you-know-who’s. Yet there were still complaints about the parking impacts of the proposal, proof that nothing will satisfy our neighbors who have shut the housing door behind them.
Speaking of these folks, opposition has fired up once again to La Mesa’s Park Station project, despite a significant height reduction in line with downtown height limits… And in Otay Ranch, a group of older residents railed against building housing for younger residents near transit, because traffic.
– UCSD’s sustainability policies with respect to transit have been questionable recently, but they’re putting on a climate change forum anyway, discussing the city’s Climate Action Plan.
Oddly, the event’s organizers only provided parking instructions at first, with no information regarding public transit or other modes. A recent climate change symposium at Salk Institute did the same… Another organization that’s been disappointing on transit is SANDAG, and this KPBS article details how SANDAG’s transportation plan works against the city’s attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As long as SANDAG staff are led by a former Caltrans director, and much of the board is made up of suburban members, freeways are always going to take precedence over mass transit, greenhouse gas laws be damned… SANDAG has announced their North Park to downtown bikeway, and John Anderson of Bike SD suggests closing Florida Drive too… Fox 5 had a good report on efforts to bring Vision Zero to San Diego… If you use the MTS website, you probably know that the tiny map of stops at the top of each route page is nearly impossible to use on your phone. Want to help improve their site? Here’s a survey.
– Finally, my work site near Sharp Memorial is amidst a concrete jungle of parking garages, drivers running through crosswalks despite pedestrians in them, and daily rush hour gridlock. I know there’s no way to get around most patient parking at hospitals, but what efforts have Sharp and Rady Children’s made to reduce the number of employees who drive there? Nearly everyone in my department drives alone, for example. And why wouldn’t they – garage parking is free, bus service takes 45 minutes to Hillcrest (a 10 minute drive), and there’s no marked bike lanes. In fact, drivers are still allowed to park for free on the sides of Health Center Drive despite the dozen or so parking garages they could park in. Why not remove this parking and add a protected bike lane?
It doesn’t have to be this way. Seattle Children’s Hospital has reduced their auto mode share among employees to 38%, with a goal of 30%. The article provides some context: “Healthcare providers are undergoing a fundamental shift from focusing on contagious diseases to treating chronic conditions that are often related to unhealthy lifestyles, like diabetes and heart disease.” Sedentary, car-dependent lifestyles contribute to these chronic conditions. Thus, the hospital has a dozen initiatives to reduce employee auto mode share, from free transit passes, to dynamic parking pricing, to free bikes.
Why aren’t Sharp and Rady’s doing the same, given our city’s Climate Action Plan and the resulting health benefits to their employees? An email question to Rady’s about any alternative transit initiatives went unanswered.