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?


Carnival of Caffeination at Modern Times

Carnival of Caffeination at Modern Times

Modern Times has announced their newest annual festival, Carnival of Caffeination, which will be held at their new event space on Kurtz St. behind the Sports Arena:

A meticulously selected cadre of incredibly bad-ass brewers and roasters will occupy our new warehouse & event space, The Fortress of Raditude, for a day of pure, liquid magnificence.

On hand will be a jaw-dropping arsenal of dark, coffee-centric, and barrel-aged beers alongside a king’s ransom of dazzling coffee-creations from some of the most boss-level roasters in the universe

Scroll down on that link to see the list of breweries and roasters.  Modern Times has been putting out some amazing variations on their Black House coffee stout, including a new Nitro with coconut and cocoa:

I’ve been to two of Modern Times’ festivals now and they are a ton of fun.  Profits from the event go to BikeSD (again!), so mark your calendar for February 11th .

– Since the first SANDAG Bikeways presentation way back in September 2012, I’ve attended several of the 90+ outreach events for these Regional Bike Plan Early Action Program projects, and a few Downtown Mobility Plan meetings. But last month’s Pershing Bikeway and Meade Avenue Bikeways meetings were the first time I’ve witnessed an overwhelming majority of speakers supporting safe bike lanes.

First, thanks to everyone who came out in support of these projects. After years of setbacks and delays, the broad support felt like a turning point. The Meade Bikeway meeting at Normal Heights Community Planning Group was particularly surprising – there were no negative comments against the project. And opponents’ arguments against the Pershing Bikeway were either easily dispatched (SANDAG’s traffic study disproved concerns over traffic delays) or downright silly, like this resident’s claim that traffic calming is “social engineering“:

This gem came from a SoNo Neighborhood Alliance representative, who vowed to block future bike safety projects in the community. I’m not sure how converting a freeway-like road to make it safer for all users is “social engineering”, while decades of building roads exclusively for drivers isn’t? Given SoNo’s opposition to anything that improves equity – including new housing in North Park – they are actively defying their own mission statement of “building consensus” and “achieving compromise”. When every street in North Park is dedicated to moving and storing cars, opposing the only north/south bike lane in the community isn’t “compromise”.

– The positive developments on the projects above were tempered by the City’s foundering Complete Boulevard study on dangerous El Cajon Boulevard. Armed with a $175K grant from SANDAG to address the high rate of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and deaths on this corridor, the City set out to propose:

“multi-modal mobility infrastructure improvements within the El Cajon Boulevard corridor between Highland Avenue and 50th Street, and will produce a planning study that includes preliminary engineering drawings for the highest priority improvements. The mobility infrastructure improvements envisioned for the corridor are intended to help realize the transformative potential of the Rapid Bus service in Mid-City by creating a more walkable, bikeable, and transit-friendly street corridor”

…yet its study ended up only suggesting basic pedestrian improvements and a short buffered bike lane in one direction. And that’s it – even after going back to the drawing board (and the SANDAG funding trough) when advocates noted the study’s lack of any bike infrastructure.

How did this critical study on one of the city’s Vision Zero corridors go from “multi-modal mobility infrastructure” to just crosswalks and sidewalk bulb-outs? Despite a street parking usage rate of just 46%, and loads of off-street parking, the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association, Little Saigon Business District and City Heights Community Planning Group all refuse to accommodate a bike lane on El Cajon Boulevard at the expense of any parking. Community planning group board members attacked the bike lanes at their meeting last month:

“It’s for Hillcrest and SDSU, and we’re just a corridor,” said Kenton Finkbeiner. “It’s really not meeting the needs of our community.”

His colleague, Jim Varnadore agreed. “We’ve been somebody’s passageway for too long,” Varnadore said. “What we should be thinking about is safety that protects pedestrians, not what a few bicyclists want.”

Varnadore has a long history of opposing bike infrastructure and made snide comments about bicyclists at the prior City Heights planning group meeting I attended. Is Jim aware that it’s possible for safety improvements to benefit pedestrians *and* bicyclists?

I didn’t understand what Finkbeiner meant, so he clarified for me that bike lanes are for “white collar” outsiders only, and are “insulting”:

This reminded me of Uptown Planner Mat Wahlstrom’s comment that “only white people ride bikes”, but these misguided volunteers planning our communities couldn’t be any further from the truth: most bicyclists are lower-income immigrants. Is bicyclist Omar Avila, injured on El Cajon Boulevard by an SUV, a white collar outsider? And here’s a recent tweet about the full bike racks at the El Cajon Boulevard YMCA (which I can personally attest has a wide range of incomes and ethnicities among its membership):

Finkbeiner declares that all City Heights residents are car commuters because of high residential street parking demand, which is also just completely wrong; in reality,  “City Heights has one of the lowest rates of car ownership in San Diego, with only about a third of households owning a car.”  He then implies that no parking on El Cajon Boulevard can be allocated to a bike lane, because there is “no parking in residential areas” of City Heights. This ignores the City’s strict off-street parking requirements for most residences.  In fact, it has a set of guidelines regarding conversion of existing garages, since “garages were built to provide required off-street parking”.  

Here in ‘white-collar’ Kensington, we’ve had some residents convert their garages to personal businesses, who then park on the street and worsen residential street parking demand.  Yet the City’s residential zoning requirements state that operating a business out of your residence “shall not eliminate or reduce required off-street parking”.  Surely this isn’t happening in City Heights too, especially among the most vocal critics of bike lanes?

The most intriguing question is why would Finkbeiner, an environmental planner and San Diego Canyonlands volunteer, invent reasons to attack bicyclists who are helping the environment? I’m not the only one to notice a disturbing pattern of hatred toward bike advocates within my own gay community and its allies, often coming from high-profile members like Wahlstrom, Finkbeiner, Jonathan Hale, Tim Gahagan and Jim Winsor. Apparently some in our community who demand tolerance and equality view these principles as a one-way street… with no room for people on bikes.  

Another argument used against bike lanes on El Cajon Boulevard is that the nearby proposed SANDAG Bikeways make them ‘redundant’, despite bicyclists needing safe access to businesses on ECB. The author of the Reader article above, a (former?) opponent of the Meade Bikeway, states that the Meade route runs parallel to the study’s stretch of El Cajon from Highland to 50th. However, Meade Bikeway actually ends well west of these blocks:

Instead, it’s the Monroe Bikeway that runs parallel to the Complete Boulevard segment, and that Bikeway has been hung up between the City and Talmadge residents feuding over prior vehicle access issues. There is no guarantee that the Monroe Bikeway will be built, and if it is, it will likely be well after the Meade Bikeway’s 2019 completion date (again, these Bikeways got started in 2012). The same could also be said for the Orange-Howard Bikeway also cited by the Reader author, because it doesn’t have a planning/construction timetable yet either. The icing on the Bikeway cake is that the SANDAG Transportation Committee now requires its own final approval of all Bikeway projects (instead of just CEQA exemption) before passing them on to the full board, for yet another final approval.

Absent from any of these conversations is the staggering ($15 billion) cost to California from gas-powered vehicle impacts on climate and health, particularly in lower-income communities such as City Heights. Like the SoNo Neighborhood Alliance opposing measures that would increase equity in their neighborhoods, a group of residents and business owners in City Heights are doing the same on El Cajon Boulevard – while casting bicyclists as the villains. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.