Parking was not among the conditions Jane Jacobs said are required to create exuberant diversity in a city’s streets and districts. She did say: “There must be a sufficiently dense concentration of people…” And: “The district must serve more than one primary function; preferably more than two. These must insure the presence of people who go outdoors on different schedules and are in the place for different purposes, but who are able to use many facilities in common.” [Read more…] about Why Parking Still Matters in America’s Downtowns
Over the years, I have encountered many of the challenges surrounding the rising urbanization of some major US cities. This experience has provided me with the understanding that a few common factors are essential in the evolution of these increasingly dense city centers. In my view, the best strategy for success in these areas is based upon 1) identifying the place, 2) establishing an independent financial base, 3) using these funds to promote the place through an entrepreneurial channel – a district management corporation in the form of a public benefit non-profit organization (501(c)(3)). [Read more…] about Placemaking: the next phase of true district management
After months of discussion and several revisions, the Downtown Mobility Plan goes to the San Diego City Council on June 21st. The plan aims to transform the street grid to an integrated urban network for all including motorists, transit riders, cyclists and pedestrians. Downtown’s workforce and residential populations are projected to more than double within twenty years and numerous buildings are currently under construction. [Read more…] about Downtown San Diego Mobility Plan – to Council June 21st
At first glance, the recent East Village Convadium proposal has many appealing qualities: it is an attractive, modern complex with many interesting features. However, the Charger’s owners hope to capitalize on the recent trend in California and use the ballot initiative process to “expedite” California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review, and for good reason. The flash and hype of the ballot initiative covers many significant, unanswered questions about potential cost overruns and environmental impacts that may cost San Diego taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. [Read more…] about A Football Stadium in East Village? Not so Fast
Downtown San Diego’s Horton Plaza Park expansion opened last week . . . more or less. Construction is not quite complete. San Diego’s downtown (at least post-WWII downtown) has thus far lacked a vibrant town square like San Francisco’s Union Square or similar successful plazas in other major cities. This major expansion of the small historic plaza is intended to fill the bill. The design team for Horton Plaza Park included Walker Macy | Landscape Architecture, the same firm that designed Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland. Features include cafe-style tables and chairs, amphitheater-style steps / bleachers, and pillars / obelisks that double as lighting for events. There’s a Starbucks, Sloan’s Ice Cream, Arts Tix Kiosk, and a yet to be named vendor all built into the park. [Read more…] about Is San Diego’s Horton Plaza Park Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square 2.0?
A sweeping ballot initiative is being circulated in San Diego. It’s called The Citizens’ Plan for the Responsible Management of Major Tourism and Entertainment Resources, or simply the “Citizens Plan” ballot initiative. The initiative is a joint effort by public interest attorney Cory Briggs and real estate developer John Moores. There have been a number of opinions issued in the media lately about whether the initiative is legal and if it is, whether it requires 2/3 voter passage or merely a majority. However, these opinions did little to explain the legal issues. This article will seek to provide greater insight into the first issue – or at least one aspect of it. A later article will examine the voter percentage required for passage.
They’re calling it the “Citizens’ Plan” initiative. Like all such initiatives, the name is misleading. Said citizens are an alliance of a billionaire and a few advocates for a limited selection of public interests. Not included are the citizens who are most impacted nor the economic interests of the City’s working populace. Citizen Kane Plan might be a more appropriate name for the way it attempts to manipulate public opinion into believing it is a grassroots plan. [Read more…] about A beach, burb, and billionaire “Citizens’ Plan” for San Diego’s urban neighborhoods
I read an op-ed in the San Diego Union Tribune that made me want to stand on top of a downtown high rise and scream . . . YES!!! The opinion piece was entitled “A higher and better use for downtown,” and was written by Wayne Raffesberger and co-authored by Rob Quigley, Jack Carpenter, Pete Garcia and David Malmuth – individuals who have exceptional knowledge of downtown San Diego’s East Village neighborhood and a promising vision for its future.* I was compelled to write a lengthy comment to the piece and perhaps I should have just stopped there (in any case, I have regurgitated some of it in writing this piece). But this topic has been an issue that has been sticking in my craw for several years. [Read more…] about San Diego’s East Village: substituting an academic and high-wage vision for an entertainment and tourism vision
Thirty years into my passion for urbanism, I’m just finishing my first read, I’m embarrassed to admit, of Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities. The book has strongly resonated with me as it has done legions others. I’m amazed at how relevant a book written 55 years ago is about U.S. cities today. Perhaps my lateness in reading this milestone of understanding of how cities work was a missed opportunity or resulted in a knowledge deficit for me. [Read more…] about The unofficial glossary of Jacobs’ Death and Life of Great American Cities
“Downtown is for people” wrote legendary urban planner Jane Jacobs in 1958, in response to building-centric redevelopment that was a byproduct of politics and economics seeking to rebuild cities across America. During her lifetime, she advocated for citizens to decide what end results they wanted, pioneering concepts like “social capital,” and advocating for planners to steer the rebuilding machinery to serve the community.
Yet, even today, downtown San Diego is being built as a collection of projects, with an approval process that consistently favors developers. [Read more…] about California lawmakers seek local oversight of downtown planning