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
An invitation was emailed last week for a ground breaking ceremony to be held on Wednesday Oct. 8, at 10:00 AM for a new Pendry Hotel to replace the parking lot of 5th & J. The invitation was ground breaking in more than one way. This parking lot was the site of one of the most egregious abuses of eminent domain under the California Community Redevelopment Act, and became one of the poster-children of the property rights – anti-eminent domain movement. Many believe it also played a role in Governor Brown’s repeal of the redevelopment law. [Read more…] about Parking lot no more at Fifth & J in the Gaslamp Quarter?
A city makes many investments, such as infrastructure improvements, life and safety services, and in their employees. To fund such, cities rely upon new development and construction to fuel its economic generation engine with new jobs, housing, shops, parks, fees, and tax revenues.We have all experienced the difficulties with building new developments in Southern California. It is either too difficult to build something great or too easy to build something terrible. Most city planning departments have to overcome a past of allowing for deplorable new buildings that challenged the character of beloved older communities. [Read more…] about The Value of Planning in the Age of Economics.
For the last half century, cities have attempted to repair the damage to their urban cores from migration to suburbs and exurbs. Redevelopment has evolved into smart growth, transit oriented development, and complete streets. In the last 15 years or so, the urban renewal efforts have had a receptive audience as people, tired of the car oriented lifestyle of the suburbs, are returning to urban cores and older urban neighborhoods. However, while cities get the big picture, too often in my 25 years as a land use attorney, I have seen the same mistakes repeated. [Read more…] about 6 Common Mistakes Made By Cities and Towns in Urban Renewal.
The City of La Mesa has cut down all the shade trees along its commercial mainstreet. This occurred as construction began on the La Mesa Downtown Streetscape “enhancement” project. Some of these trees were tattered, unhealthy, or buckling the sidewalks. However, the city removed nearly all the trees, problematic or not. Rather than replacing these trees with environmentally and pedestrian friendly shade trees (e.g. native varieties like Western Sycamores, Live Oak, or Black Oak), the replacements tree choice is being guided primarily by maintenance concerns, leaving a limited selection of relatively small non-native and non-shade trees. Additionally, the Streetscape Masterplan shows an abundance of the grossly overused fan palm, sparing only La Mesa Boulevard between Acacia and 4th, and a few other blocks. [Read more…] about Who Hijacked La Mesa’s Trees?
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
Last night was the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s (SDAF) first “Context” event, which featured a discussion between Darlene Shiley, Dr. Irwin Jacobs, and Robert Wellington Quigley about the process that brought the new Central Library to fruition, and its implication for future civic projects in San Diego. [Read more…] about SDAF First ‘Context’ Event, with Jacobs, Shiley, and Quigley, Enjoyable and Enlightening
The long vacant ground floor of the TR Produce Building (888 J Street) may finally receive an occupant under a proposal before Civic San Diego. However, because the prospective tenant is primarily an office use rather than a retail use, it will require a conditional use permit (CUP) subject to certain findings being made. The prospective tenant, Underground Elephant, “focusses on providing enterprise marketing software solutions to companies. . .” The company has 85 – 90 employees and is currently located in 600 B Street. To mitigate its non-conforming use, Underground Elephant proposes a “Coffee bar” at the front of business, which will be open to the public. [Read more…] about TR Produce Creative Space Proposal Another Example of City Council’s Folly in Approving Demolition of Other Creative Space.
The Urban Discovery School, currently located in the Banker’s Hill neighborhood just north of downtown San Diego, is proposing a move to a new location in downtown’s East Village. The project involves some welcome adaptive reuse and will allow the school to grow to 450 students. The school’s is nearing the end of its term at its current location. The new site is owned by the San Diego Community College District. Urban Discovery School has negotiated a 99 year lease which will go to the College District Board for approval on April 17, 2014. The site is the block bounded by 13th & 14th Avenues and E & F Streets, near the planned Village Green park. The Civic San Diego staff report summarizes the project as follows:
A revised Pinnacle project for 11th & Broadway is in design review at Civic San Diego. The main difference seems to be that the developer now proposes to relocate (by 50′) the historically designated Hamilton Apartments rather than demolish them as had been previously approved by the Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC) in 2012. An act of enlightenment and altruism, or an act pragmatism (i.e. to avoid litigation or utilize tax credits)? The Civic San Diego staff report doesn’t say. In any case, preserving historical resources and adaptively reusing existing structures can only be a good thing for downtown’s diversities of architecture, people, and uses. The staff report to the Civic San Diego Real Estate Committee summarizes the project: [Read more…] about Revised 11th & Broadway Pinnacle Project in Design Review – San Diego