We hear a lot about “smart growth” in the press, in blogs, and at planning commissions these days. There are folks who support smart growth projects, and folks who don’t. But of course, no one ever couches their opposition to a smart growth project in terms of favoring “dumb growth,” although that’s what they may really be saying, if they thought about it. [Read more]
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
In Southern California we suffer greatly from suburbia myopia. This affliction prevents us from understanding what makes urban environments succeed. We all too often attempt to recreate what we value in our suburban neighborhoods without the understanding of what it takes establish and sustain these ideas, designs and initiatives in a dynamic urban setting. We have idealized visions of tranquil urban neighborhoods where we live, work and pursue artistic/academic endeavors that will transform the cultural wasteland post-industrialized American cities.Continue Reading Downtown San Diego Mobility Plan – Vision for the Future or A Well Intentioned Waste of Money?
With vibrant neighborhoods, gentle terrain, the Big Bay and year round sunshine, Downtown San Diego figures to be on every list of America’s great cycling communities. We have everything… except the bicyclists. Why? It’s not very safe. The street grid favors cars. That’s about to change.Continue Reading Downtown San Diego by Bike – changes coming
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. . .
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.Continue Reading 6 Common Mistakes Made By Cities and Towns in Urban Renewal.
On a short walk in my neighborhood this morning, I must have passed hundreds of poles: Light poles, utility poles, sign poles.
They do their jobs of holding up stuff but I noticed that they can do a lot more.
Here in just a few blocks, some upgrades:
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. Continue Reading Who Hijacked La Mesa’s Trees?
Trust in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as the “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective.” Sadly, on numerous occasions, the City of Santa Monica and some their residents have proven that they cannot be trusted. Continue Reading You Cannot Trust Santa Monica
During the summer of 2013, my husband and I took a very uncharacteristic vacation to a spa in Scottsdale, Arizona. I say “uncharacteristic” because a spa in the desert at the height of summer would not normally be at the top of our list of vacation destinations.Continue Reading A Wall, No Matter How Pretty, Is Still…a Wall