I recently returned from Asia, where I noticed, as always, numerous people wearing face masks on the street. In Mainland China, I have always assumed this was because of the rampant air pollution in major cities. But I also observed masks in other cities such as Hong Kong and Taipei, where industrial and automotive pollution appears, at least to the unscientific observer, to be much less. And we Californians are also used to seeing some of our Asian neighbors wearing masks in American cities. I have wondered, is this a holdover from life in Beijing or Shenzhen or other cities in Mainland China, where the color of air can be as dull as a grey goose? (And I’m not thinking of vodka.) Or is it something else?Continue Reading Why we had Urban Renewal
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.Continue Reading In Defense of Uncertainty
Ever since the removal of the double-decker Embarcadero Freeway after the Loma Prieta earthquake and its replacement with a graceful boulevard, high quality development has been replacing empty piers and parking lots along San Francisco’s northern waterfront.
Think the Ferry Building, Pier 1, Piers 1½, 3 and 5 (Coqueta, La Mar Cebicheria, Hard Water), the Exploratorium, and the new Cruise Terminal to mention a few. Fisherman’s Wharf has a going Community Benefits District, a brilliant streetscape plan, and some quality new buildings housing such uses as the flagship Boudin bakery/restaurant and a new Madame Tussauds.
For years, it has all fallen apart when one hits Van Ness. But a brilliant new plan for the non-profit Fort Mason Center is about to change all that.Continue Reading Completing San Francisco’s Northern Waterfront
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.
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.Continue Reading Beware of Wall Street Schemes on Redevelopment
The street I live on is only two blocks long, lined with Victorian houses. It’s in about the geographic center of San Francisco, There are street trees and front yards (unusual for San Francisco) and in the spring it smells of Jasmine. The neighbors are a mix of old-timers and gentry, gay and not, with lots of kids. Across the street, three households have joined their backyards so the kids have more play space.Continue Reading The Street I Live On
As Yogi Berra used to say, “it is déjà vu all over again,” or better yet, “when you come to the fork in the road, take it.” In its history, Los Angeles has come to the fork in the road and made some very poor choices.Continue Reading Swung on and Missed
San Diego – A new condominium project in Little Italy is undergoing design review at Civic San Diego (formerly CCDC). The project site is 1919 Pacific Highway, sandwiched between the trolley/railroad tracks and Pacific Hwy near West Grape Street, diagonally north across from the County Administration Center, and adjacent to the Marriott Residence Inn.Continue Reading New 7 Story Condo Project for Little Italy Proposed
San Diego – A new development proposal for the Northeast corner of 8th Ave. and “B” St, just East of Symphony Towers, is in design review at Civic San Diego (formerly CCDC). The site is currently partially occupied by a Brake Depot and the rest of block is surface parking. The site is already partially excavated. It comes before the Pre-Design Subcommittee of the Centre City Advisory Committee (CCAC) on Oct. 3, 2012,Continue Reading Blue Sky for Hole at 8th & B?
San Diego – The new U.S. Federal Courthouse at 301 W. Broadway is nearing completion. The building was designed by Michael Palladino, a principal designer of Richard Meier & Partners, and rises 16 stories (320 feet). The building replaced the historically designated Hotel San Diego, which was built by sugar magnate John D. Spreckles, an important figure in San Diego’s history in 1914. Continue Reading U.S. Federal Courthouse Nearing Completion