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
On October 11, 2015, Governor Brown vetoed Senate Bill 539, which would have removed Confederate names from government buildings in California. On the same date, Governor Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 30 prohibiting the use of the name “Redskins” for school sports teams and mascots. In vetoing the ban of confederate names on public buildings and places, Governor Brown noted “a national movement to remove the confederate [sic] flag from State Capitols [sic] in the South – a long overdue action.” However, he went on to state: [Read more…] about California tributes to the Confederacy – why Gov. Brown is wrong
On June 2, 2015, San Diego’s independent TV station KUSI set aside a segment of their weather report to editorialize about climate change. The message: climate change is minimal and natural – not man made. The message was delivered by Mark Mathis, KUSI’s weather reporter who has an A.S. degree in meteorology. Mr. Mathis based his argument primarily on the two following assumptions: [Read more…] about How TV weather reporters are aiding and abetting climate change
Jane Jacobs wasn’t bullish on urban parks. She preferred active sidewalks. In her classic urban planning (sociology?) book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, she noted that parks created “borders,” that often result in blighting or “slumming” along their edges. She attributed this circumstance to a lack of diversity of uses, a lack of density, and many other factors, and how they interrelated (her “organized complexity”). [Read more…] about Are cities building too many parks and plazas in their downtowns? The experts weigh in . . .
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
The justifications for the use of native plants in landscapes usually center on environmental reasons. The reasons run the gamut from water conservation to supporting local fauna. Rarely are aesthetic reasons given. Perhaps that circumstance is the result of the subjective nature of aesthetics. However, there are aesthetic reasons for choosing native plant landscapes that are fairly objective. The following are a few: [Read more…] about Four aesthetic reasons to landscape with native plants
I’ve been watching the nationwide anti-short term rental movement unfold in my home city of San Diego. Some neighborhoods are clearly more impacted than others, such as beach communities, yet the opposition to short term rentals surfaces even in communities where such rentals are relatively rare. I’ve attended a a few meetings in which local crusaders against airbnb and VRBO have told stories of noisy parties, speeding cars, parking problems, and strangers in their midst. One suspects that the last complaint fuels the antipathy more than the former. In fact, the complaint about strangers and transience is frequently paired with the noise and nuisance complaints, as though there was a sense by the complainants that something more concrete was needed to justify their complaints. [Read more…] about Proposed short term rental regulations: An example of zoning abuse.
Wheels are vastly different than legs. Give wheels smooth, wide, straight, and solid turf, and they can reach speeds not even legs attached to a cheetah can reach. This is particularly true when the turf is wide enough to support four wheels connected to a mechanical engine. On the other hand, legs can climb stairs, step over obstacles, negotiate narrow spaces, and take their cargo places wheels can’t go at any speed. Legs can travel a short and straight line where wheels require a lengthy zig-zag route. [Read more…] about The Missing Link to Unsprawling: Bipedal Shortcuts
Trade Joe’s stores are so popular that zoning laws are drafted to accommodate them while keeping out competitors, and communities swoon to receive them while staunchly opposing other businesses selling the same types of goods. [Read more…] about Zoning for Trader Joe’s – is there a better way?
Are the San Diego National Football League (NFL) Chargers causing the San Diego State University Aztecs football team to lose games and fans? If so, which is worse for San Diego, losing its NFL franchise to another city, or sub-optimal performance and attendance at Aztecs football games?
While these question at first appear both absurd and provocative, there have been several studies that can answer these questions – at least to some degree. Moreover, the studies go further. [Read more…] about Are the NFL Chargers causing the NCAA Aztecs to lose?