I’m Orlando Barahona and this is the first account of my experiences as a homeless man in San Diego. One aim in writing this editorial is to raise a sharp awareness of a homelessness crisis I have experienced that cannot be ignored any longer: men, women and entire families are on the streets or in sub-par dwellings; the other is to dispel the myth that anyone who enters adverse situations cannot recover. [Read more…] about An Inside View of Homelessness in San Diego
Not long ago, the future was looking pretty dire for the Hotel Churchill in downtown San Diego (9th & C). It sat vacant and neglected, with its redevelopment uncertain. Along came the San Diego Housing Commission and Housing Development Partners of San Diego (HDP), which in addition to providing housing to some very vulnerable people, has also been one of the City’s leading saviors of historic properties. The historic Mason Hotel on Fifth Ave. and A St. in downtown San Diego was another property recently restored by the Housing Commission and HDP. [Read more…] about The new historic Hotel Churchill unveiled
California’s Bay Area housing disaster tells Southern Californians that our housing crisis will only get worse and doing nothing is both an irrational and irresponsible response. We are faced with deciding to have more neighbors or pay more taxes as we desperately need money to fix our city’s crumbling infrastructure. The conundrum is that we despise taxes and the mere mention of ‘density’ polarizes any discussion into either demands for no new growth or building tall towers.
I believe answers to meet San Diego’s housing demand are found in the following two-tier approach: [Read more…] about Its not Smart Growth… It’s Called Avoiding a Housing Crisis
With rising inequality, a looming climate change crisis, and persistent state of housing unaffordability being the defining issues in the growth of American cities in the twenty-first century, it is time for urban planners to take social policy seriously. Too often, social policy is relegated to a specialized role for advocacy planners, at other times ignored completely for being too political, and often times dismissed as “creeping socialism” that is inappropriate in land-use planning. This prompted planning legend Norman Krumholtz to call the profession “timid,” not as much to reflect on the work ethics of rank-and-file planners, but the leadership of those in power, who do not allow planning to pursue equity objectives. The most powerful piece on the planning chess-board is unavailable to most urban planners. [Read more…] about Urban planning without social equity is like playing chess without the queen.
“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
As the economy improves, California’s affordable housing crisis is worsening. The average rent in California ($1,240) is almost fifty percent higher than the national average. This is pricing out our state’s low-wage blue collar workers, who have flat incomes and rising commutes. It would take a service worker in San Jose 20 years to save up enough to buy a home. [Read more…] about How to fix California’s Housing Affordability Crisis
There is a building boom across California, but many communities have been historically left behind. Property tax increment has served as a planning and investment tool to provide public benefits such as affordable housing, good jobs and neighborhood amenities. However, with the end of redevelopment, cash-poor cities across California are exploring innovative strategies to fund public benefits. One such strategy is to partner with developers for community benefits in exchange for planning and development rights. [Read more…] about How Communities can Benefit from Private Development in California
Nobody likes uncertainty. Certainly not the developers of a billion dollar mixed-use project that encounters community opposition due to traffic impacts. Nor the public transportation agency that runs into fairy shrimp on the future route of a trolley line. Nor the city planners for multifamily housing around a transit station that face a revolt from their single-family neighbors. [Read more…] about In Defense of Uncertainty
With the demise of redevelopment in California, some cities are looking for creative ways to stay solvent. One idea is to leverage New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) to buy properties and become landlords. This acquisition fund concept was recently adopted by Civic San Diego (CivicSD), a nonprofit corporation that is a consultant to the city of San Diego on the wind-down of redevelopment. [Read more…] about Beware of Wall Street Schemes on Redevelopment
Things are looking up for the historic Hotel Churchill on “C” St. & 9th Ave. in downtown San Diego. [Read more…] about Things are looking up for the Hotel Churchill thanks to the San Diego Housing Commission