Today, San Diego is failing to accommodate our growth demands. Due to NIMBY (people who oppose any new building with a “Not In My Backyard” attitude) pressure and fear, only downtown towers and greenfield sprawl sites are far enough away from them to secure any development permits. And these aren’t our best places to allow for enough attainable or affordable housing. Big, heavy downtown towers are very expensive. But so are sprawling subdivision roads, fire stations, community centers, parks, and new housing construction costs. Those subdivisions are far away from jobs, necessitate a car for every daily need. Suburbia encumbers agriculture lands and are at great wildfire risk. But, that’s mostly what we have available to us to build the housing we need to accommodate for the next 1.3 million people by 2050 (SANDAG).Continue Reading It’s Time to Take the Keys Away from Granddad
Due to today’s housing crisis, it seems west coast cities are taking on Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) opposition that has stymied new projects and developments via polarizing and protracted public processes. These ‘no-growth’ individuals group together out of an innate fear of change to stop planned development intended to benefit their larger community. In my hometown of San Diego, these polarizing projects range from bicycle lanes, stadiums, house rentals, and to building more homes to address our housing crisis. Their innate ‘fear of change’ response to anything new creates an ethical challenge for every major city trying to build housing or transit.Continue Reading How to Program Social Equity into Planning Sustainable Communities
“Caltrans does not restrict the right of free speech with handheld banners, but attaching flags or banners is not allowed,” a Caltrans-Spokesman told the San Jose Mercury News. He added, “We are concerned that people waving handheld banners could cause driver distraction — putting their safety or that of the motoring public at risk.”
Today, we have prioritized the ‘motoring public’ over all other aspects of public life.Continue Reading Overpassing the value of public space
By Howard Blackson and Don Leichtling
– North Park is one of San Diego’s finest communities. It has many distinctive neighborhoods, with most containing block after block of beautiful bungalows of all varieties. It contains award winning schools, and every quarter-mile or so, neighborhood centers that contain great restaurants, small shops, brew pubs, and corner markets. Hipsters, elderly, and families with kids love living in North Park because it is already both walkable and diverse.Continue Reading North Park Community Plan Update – We Can Do Better by Working Together
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:Continue Reading Its not Smart Growth… It’s Called Avoiding a Housing Crisis
The Salk Institute is an other-worldly place as I had seen it on posters and calendars for many years before I experienced it first hand. At certain times of the day, nearer sunset, the space can take your breath away. The concrete and granite buildings and plaza are much more transcendental than harsh.Continue Reading Beyond Lou Kahn
When asked about what I do for a living by new friends and neighbors, I usually start with “urban designer,” then drift towards “city planner,” and usually end with, “sort of like architecture…” Or, during one those late Sunday evening angst moments while contemplating just what in the heck am I doing on this earth, I like to tell myself that I’m a maker of great places. Then Sunday’s infinite theoretical possibilities and dreams butt up against Monday’s unforgiving reality*, and I’m back to selling traditional neighborhood developments, form-based codes, consecutive-day charrettes, and mixed-use, walkable, urbanism to anyone willing to listen, which I enjoy immensely.Continue Reading I’m a PlaceMaker. . .
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.Continue Reading The Value of Planning in the Age of Economics.
In an era of austerity when our bridges are falling, levees failing, and streets crumbling, cities are coming to the harsh realization of the difficulty and economic importance of simply maintaining our existing infrastructure. The conflicts we are experiencing today are due to states and cities not being able to afford razing and completely building new bridges, storm drains and thoroughfares to replace failing infrastructure, and yet our regulatory and construction standards have not adjusted to this new reality. We are painfully relearning the value of “efficiently built infrastructure” and its effects on our quality-of-life, as well as its effects on our prosperity or failure of older places.Continue Reading One Block at a Time…