Going for a run on a Saturday morning in San Diego is a great joy. This is an undeniably outdoor town and seeing people out enjoying the sunshine and each other while I lumber by brings a smile to my face. The past couple of Saturday mornings I’ve taken a few photos during my runs through Balboa Park and wanted to post them here.
I hope you enjoy your Saturday mornings as well, and sharing and enjoying the beautiful place in which we live.
If you live in, own a business in, or own property in Uptown you are eligible to vote tonight at 6 PM for the board of Uptown Planners. Show up at 3900 Vermont St., San Diego, CA 92103 to make your voice heard and have a say in the future of Uptown! Please consider supporting the slate of candidates noted below.
Tonight, Tuesday March 1, the community planning group for the neighborhoods of Uptown, Uptown Planners, will hold a board election. Groups like Uptown Planners, give input to the city about development, park space, and other important issues. Per the city website “Community planning groups (CPG) provide citizens with an opportunity for involvement in advising the City Council, the Planning Commission, and other decision-makers on development projects, general or community plan amendments, rezonings and public facilities. The recommendations of the planning groups are integral components of the planning process, and are highly regarded by the City Council and by staff.”
For an idea of the topics that Uptown Planners you can view the agenda for the meeting tonight following the election.
Being a part of a planning group is a significant commitment of time and dedication to a community. It is also a very important part of how things get built in San Diego. This applies to buildings, sidewalks, bike lanes, housing, dog parks, and much more.
Please see the below graphic for a slate of candidates that has stepped up and organized to run for Uptown Planners. I support this group of candidates and hope you will too. Paul Jamason at SD Urban has a thorough write up of the major issues at stake and why it is important to support these candidates.
“Let’s move beyond the priorities of traffic, parking and home value appreciation, to the more important challenges of climate change and housing affordability. We can do this by supporting Uptown Planners candidates who will work to implement San Diego’s Climate Action Plan and transit-oriented development in our neighborhoods.”
Following is a message from Bike San Diego that has endorsed two of the above slate of candidates for this election.
Tomorrow is the Uptown Planners Board Election – Tuesday, March 1st, 2016 – 6:00-7:00 p.m.
BikeSD is pleased to announce our endorsements of Ms. Maya Rosas and Mr. Joshua Clark, for the Uptown Planners Board election this coming Tuesday, March 1st. It’s time to get out the vote! Uptown Planners is a key community planning group in the City of San Diego’s urban core and includes the neighborhoods of Bankers Hill/Park West, Hillcrest, Mission Hills, University Heights, Five Points/Middletown, and the Medical Complex. As the official planning advisory board to the City, it’s key that forward-thinking members with an eye toward fostering smart urban growth focused on active transportation, be elected to the Board. Maya and Josh are running on a slate of candidates who fit the bill. BikeSD recommends that you arrive early enough on Tuesday, March 1st (tomorrow), to meet Maya and Josh, as well as hear their recommendations for the remaining slate of candidates. A voter may vote for up to seven candidates!
Last year, our endorsement helped elect Michael Brennan and Kyle Heiskala to the Uptown Planners board, and their influence on the board cannot be understated. It was through Heiskala’s patience and willingness to educate his fellow board members that Uptown Planners voted to support protected bike lanes along all of University Avenue at their 2015 December meeting, something that could happen through city efforts regardless of SANDAG’s own project. This development was a huge departure from Uptown Planners of the past and it is only because of Heiskala and Brennan than this change was possible. So this being election year, don’t discount your voice. Opposition to safe streets and in favor of maintaining the status quo is still strong – so come out next Tuesday and VOTE!
Details of the election are below:
What: Uptown Planners Board Election
When: Tuesday, March 1st, 2016 – 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Where: Joyce Beers Center, 3900 Vermont St., San Diego, CA 92103 (between Aladdin Restaurant & Panera Bread)
**To vote, an individual must present identification proving either residency, property ownership, or business ownership in Uptown. (See map of Uptown boundaries here.) Identification may include a driver’s license, utility bill, tax bill, business license, or rent receipt – any document that has the voter’s name and street address. Photocopies of documents are acceptable.**
Don’t live or own property in Uptown? If you have friends or family who live there (Bankers Hill/Park West, Hillcrest, Mission Hills, University Heights, Five Points/Middletown, and the Medical Complex), give them a call and tell them to come out.
2016 begins with San Diego looking at some pretty major changes. Downtown San Diego is experiencing a building boom and has community groups pushing for it be a walkable, bikeable city center. Awesome. The San Diego City Council recently unanimously voted to adopt a Climate Action Plan to ensure our city is a leader in moving to renewable energy and reducing emissions. The plan includes a goal to make biking 6% of commuter mode share by 2020 and 18% by 2035 (in select “Transit Priority Areas”). Currently the city is around 1% bicycle mode share. Aim high – great. Last week SANDAG held a meeting for public input regarding a bicycle / pedestrian bridge above Florida Street to connect Hillcrest and North Park. This week SANDAG holds a meeting for public comment regarding Pershing Drive and creating a high quality bike route from North Park to Downtown. Good stuff.
The tough bit about all these goals and plans – and there are many more great projects being proposed – is in making them a reality and backing up words and PowerPoints with actions and improvements on the ground. Roadway and infrastructure projects changes happen over years, if not decades. It is not a fast nor easy process and without consistent oversight and public pressure many, if not most, changes and projects will be scrapped a few years after being proprosed or passed. To see long-term, meaningful progress in making San Diego a world-leader for bicycling is why I support Bike San Diego.
I have found no organization in San Diego that more strongly and consistently is pushing for real, positive change on our roadways than Bike San Diego. If you want representation at public meetings, in meetings with elected officials and community groups, and ongoing leadership on the public stage I think you’ll find the same.
2015 was a tough year for biking in San Diego. The SANDAG Regional Bikeway Projects, announced in September 2013 with $200 million of funding, have yet to paint a single foot of bike lane more than 2 years later. The first project under this program, in Uptown, had the most critical portion – an East-West connection from Mission Hills to North Park – gutted despite many hours of meetings, and input from the communities to be improved. I attended many of the meetings for this project, and for a paired project in North Park, and have since wondered why I spent so much time, stress, and effort to see a unanimous vote against bike lanes by the Uptown Planners group. It has left me pondering if my time would be better spent elsewhere – if the “public outreach meetings” seem intentionally designed to give cover to the pre-ordained outcome as being community supported perhaps attendance is even counter-productive. Across the bay Coronado was widely panned for ludicrous commentary regarding bike lanes (video below).
My solace comes from the growing bicycling community in San Diego, and the support and leadership shown by Bike San Diego. We may have lost University Avenue (for now) but we showed up, spoke up, and connected. At the next set of meetings we’ll be bigger, louder, and more insistent on the outcome of public meetings truly reflecting the content of those meetings. When 70% of meeting testimony is strongly in support of a project the outcome should not be unanimous in the other direction. Such disrepect for the public can stand temporarily but over time will not.
Biking is critical to the future of San Diego, if we desire to be a city succeeding in the future. Look at world-class cities like London, Paris, New York City, Vancouver, Copenhagen, and others – they are embracing biking and walking and reaping immense economic rewards. The backwaters are not those that walk and bike – they are those that are tripling down on freeways and levelling neighborhoods to pave even more. Would San Francisco be more successful if four freeways were rammed through it or was the city right to demolish the freeway that long blighted the famed waterfront on the bay?
San Diego has no excuse to not be a world-leader in biking. We have the best weather in the United States. We stand to benefit economically, socially, and in health from increased levels of biking (and decreased levels of driving). We are a major city and should stop pretending we’re a congolmeration of suburbs with a mall as a city center. We need to get serious about real change on the ground. Bike San Diego will be there every step of the way but can not do it without support.
I was very happy to be included in an invitation to view and explore a new acquisition by the San Diego River Park Foundation just outside of Julian, California on Saturday, December 5. Below are a number of photos of the 374 acres that the Foundation is in the process of buying from the current owners. This acreage surrounds Temescal Creek, a coldwater creek that is part of the San Diego River watershed. This acquisition will ensure the land is preserved for future generations and remains a wildlife corridor preserve for mountain lions, deer, turkey, hawks, and many other animals. Executive Director Rob Hutsel noted that the vision is for this space to be open to the public and to host youth for overnight trips to explore and participate in science-focused lessons in nature.
Each September I organize a weekend bicycle ride, Ride For The River Park, from Ocean Beach to Julian and back to promote and support the idea of a continuous path for the entirety of the San Diego River. 2016 will be the 5th year for the event and if you’d like to join we’d love to have you. My goal is to see this path be a reality by the 10th year of the event – by September of 2021. The idea and the work is not mine, it is that of the River Park Foundation, I simply want to support and spur on the work they are doing. At the event on Saturday, a mile marker post was debuted showing the start / end of the San Diego River Trail. What a beautiful sight to see.
In the same vein of supporting the vision of a full River Trail, 2015 is the first year for which I am donating 1% of my Airbnb income to charitable causes. For this year that money is going to the San Diego River Park Foundation. I got the idea from the 1% For the Planet movement, in which “Members donate at least 1% of sales to nonprofit partners we’ve vetted for participation in the 1% for the Planet network.” I’m just a single person so after further research it doesn’t seem the 1% For the Planet program is a good fit for my giving.
Instead, I’m working with Airbnb for a roll-out to San Diego of their Charity Donation Tool which currently allows hosts in Portland to opt-in to donate a portion of their revenue to a local charity. I’m hopeful that this will soon be an option for hosts in San Diego to automatically and regularly support great local charities like the River Park Foundation. If you’re a host in San Diego and would like to help make this a reality please contact me. In the meantime, I hope you’ll consider a voluntarily donation to the charity of your choice from your Airbnb (or VRBO or other platform) earnings.
The acreage surrounding Temescal Creek features many mature oaks, ravines, and all sorts of native plants thriving. A beautiful, peaceful place to enjoy and savor the natural splendor of San Diego and a reminder that without support it will not endure. It takes the efforts of many to protect and preserve our natural bounty.
Plaza de Panama is the central plaza in San Diego’s Balboa Park and a great place for meeting friends, reading, and enjoying children running around. Until recently it was an ugly parking lot. Converting parking spaces to park space was a great improvement to this area but we can do more.
In the center of the plaza there is a gorgeous fountain (currently running intermittently due to drought concerns in California). The small earth area surrounding the fountain has been replanted many, many times over the past year. The plantings have primarily been small flowers – not drought tolerant, not native. The planting area also precludes visitors from sitting near or on the fountain which would be a natural setting to relax, especially if the fountain was tree shaded. I propose to improve the fountain area and Plaza de Panama in general by adding trees to surround the fountain to provide shade for people sitting and a focal point for the plaza.
Surrounding the fountain eight beautiful trees would shade those enjoying the plaza and echo the colors of San Diego and Spain – red and yellow. This shows civic pride and affirms the Spanish heritage of the park and many of the building structures which were built in Spanish-Renaissance style and feature Spanish names.
At each of the cardinal directions, Autralian Flame Trees would be planted. These trees would grow up to 60 feet tall but have a root structure that is well suited for street curbs or other small spaces. Flame trees also require little to moderate water once established and love full sun and heat which is present at Plaza de Paname.
Between the cardinal point Flame trees Tipu trees will provide the yellow prominent in both flags. Tipu trees grow 25-40 feet tall so would be a lower level canopy beneath the taller Flame trees. Tipu trees also have a root structure that would be appropriate for a small space planting as is the case here.
How does this vision become reality?
Feedback from landscape architects regarding size, type, coloration, cost, and other considerations
Approval from Balboa Park / City of San Diego Parks & Recreation to donate trees and labor to Balboa Park for beautification of Plaza de Panama
Funding for purchases and volunteers for planting from community. Total cost is estimated at $5,000. I selected 36 inch box trees, which would likely be the largest planting size advisable. Flame trees would be $500 each and Tipu trees run $425 each at that size. This estimate includes some money for mulch, soil, and nutrients but does not include labor which is hoped to be provided by volunteers. If labor is hired the cost would likely rise to around $10,000.
Select date for delivery of trees and planting.
Install trees, water, enjoy shade which will increase with each year to come
Thoughts on this idea? Let me know in the comments or via email. Cheers!
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors recently cut the ribbon to officially open a new $36,000,000 parking garage at Cedar and Kettner in Little Italy. The garage has 640 spaces, built at a cost of $56,250 per space. The garage will primarily be used for free parking for county employees and will also be available for paid public parking use on nights and weekends.
Here’s a laudatory video from the ribbon-cutting:
Supervisor Diane Jacobs noted “this truly is the best looking parking garage in the entire region and the most needed parking garage”. The “stalls are a little wider than you’ll find in most commercial parking structures”.
The Little Italy neighborhood is home to many of San Diego’s most highly regarded restaurants including Bracero, Buon Appetito, Monello, Ironside, Davanti Enoteca, Juniper and Ivy, and many others. Most of the restaurants have little, or zero, private parking provided. The area has also seen tremendous growth in the number of residential units in recent years. The result has been a thriving neighborhood that is among the most vibrant places in the entire county. A large part of the enjoyment of Little Italy stems from the many people and attractive buildings present – I doubt India Street would be improved by the addition of a massive parking garage. In recent years the need for parking of unused vehicles has been further reduced due to the explosive growth of taxi-hailing apps like Lyft and Uber.
In total, between the two projects $54.5M was spent on moving parking spaces and $18.5M was spent on the actual park that people enjoy. This is excluding the $5.2M of difference from the original estimate to the actual construction costs and the $6M of design and administration costs. Those cost breakdowns yield a result of 75% of funds used to move spots for empty cars and 25% of funds used to build a park. For purposes of this article let’s assume the admin and cost over-run figures split on the same lines. The vast majority of the funds used for these joint projects was for moving parking spaces, not for building a park.
This project was sold as a project to build a great park – it would seem fitting if most of the funds were actually used to build a great park. Instead we spent 75% of the funds to relocate parking spaces, not creating new spaces but moving existing parking spaces. 251 spaces moved approximately 15 feet, they were undergrounded in the same location as the previous surface level lots.
To boot, the county demolished an historic building in Little Italy to make room for the large new parking garage. The Star Builders Supply Company building was built in 1911 and added to the county list of historic buildings in 1991. County supervisors unanimously voted to demolish the building. It’s now gone but you can enjoy the below video of the beautiful piece of San Diego history that has now been erased like so many others.
From the total 891 parking spots that were moved, 71.8% were moved about 1-2 blocks east from their previous location. 28.2% were moved about 15 feet underground. To accomplish this feat, county taxpayers spent $54.5 million dollars. As enjoyable as the the new park is and a huge improvement to the ugly surface parking lots perhaps it would have been better to save that money or spend it on a better use. To move so many parked cars such a small distance seems a pyrrhic victory. A small consolation might be that the total number of parking spots went from 1,200 in the surface lots to 891 in the new underground and multi-level parking garages, a net reduction of 25.75%. We could have spent even more money if we moved all of them! A legitimate question would be if the previous 1,200 spots or the new 891 spots are actually needed or not. But as so often happens when it comes to accommodating automobiles, too much is never enough and no cost is too high. More lanes on I-5 for $6 billion? Of course! More parking lots in Balboa Park? Of course! Analysis of the actual demand and cost comes far behind the populist appeal of free goodies for motor vehicles. The environmental impacts of our car culture is even further down the priority list than our dollars.
Enjoy the Waterfront Park (aka Parking Lot Relocation Park); it’s a great place. Building beautiful things is something a great city does. I’m proud that San Diego built it. In total, though, this project was a massive use of taxpayer dollars to move parking spots a small distance – not to build a great public park. They are distinct items and taxpayers did not need to spend tens of millions to provide a tax-free employment perk that most employees, government-employed or not, do not enjoy. We also did not need to use prime real estate to do so. Taxpayers must demand better stewardship of public funds and assets.
This summer I was fortunate to take a bicycle trip across part of Europe, from Budapest to southern Bavaria (just south of Munich). It was the first time I had taken a trip primarily by bicycle and it was great. Unknown to me before our trip, Europe has created a number of cross-continent bicycle routes, named the EuroVelo routes.
We used EuroVelo Route 6, which goes from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea – most of the route is bicycle only with some portions sharing the road through small villages. We were only on a small portion of this route since our journey was much shorter than the route. Here’s an overview of the whole network, it’s amazing.
The amount of people we encountered while riding was awesome. Groups large and small, single riders, day trippers, and those camping along the way. All enjoying the beautiful Danube River and a peaceful, quiet ride through the countryside and towns both big and small.
One town we stopped in for a night was Tulln, Austria. It was a charming town in central Austria with a well-kept town square. It’s a very old town, first noted in 859, but is making proactive changes to thrive in 21st century and put people first. The center city recently moved to a 20 kph speed limit for their city center. That’s 12.4 mph.
This small town, with cobbled streets and narrow roadways went out of it’s way to actively change in a way that makes people feel safe, valued, and welcome. The EuroVelo system has been created the same way – many people actively choosing to make Europe a place that increasingly values people and is a great place to live. In Tulln, and many of the other places we visited you were far more likely to see people walking, biking, or sitting and enjoying some sun than you were to see cars rushing to and fro. In America it is the opposite nearly everywhere – elementary schools, downtowns, suburbs, office parks. It is this way because we have chosen to build a place that incents and endorses cars above people and community.
The same applies to any community in the world – what it is and what it will become are choices constantly being made. Our roadways, our buildings, our speed limits are all man-made creations. The status quo exists because we continue to choose and support it. Cities like Tulln that are many centuries old have existed through great and terrible periods yet continue to thrive in the 21st century. Economies change, and so do trends – valuing people and creating great places to live and celebrate life are timeless practices.
What happens when you reduce speeds and limit vehicles? You get more people, more money, and a livelier place to live and visit. To Tulln – Prosit!
Note: I’m adding some old posts from other sites here over time. This post is from April 24, 2015. Enjoy!
Cowles Mountain is a classic San Diego hike. It’s the highest point in the city limits at 1,594 feet, and is popular every day (and many nights) of the year. Near to San Diego State University and a number of neighborhoods as well as within close distance to much of the city it’s a great, moderate difficulty hike. The hiking trails are surrounded by native scrub and there is little shade so it’s typically a hot and somewhat dusty climb with views from the Pacific Ocean to Mexico and into the East County reaches of San Diego County.
Today was a much different story. Heavy cloud cover and fog along with a light drizzle accompanied our upward hike before clearing once we reached the top. From the summit there was no view to be had, just a ghostly white backdrop. We had a couple of visitors from Seattle with us, so perhaps for them it wasn’t so atypical but for the San Diegans on the trip it was a unique experience.
Have a great weekend and cross your fingers for more mist – and rain!
Road rage is defined as “violent anger caused by the stress and frustration involved in driving a motor vehicle in difficult conditions”. The term has some nice alliteration but a more fitting term would be “car rage”. Perhaps we use road rage because we don’t want to acknowledge the damage and deaths that our passionate and loving embrace of the automobile causes. Tens of thousands of deaths every year, yet rarely a headline in the paper. The deaths are in the paper, just in the small print area inside with some short explanations that will impugn the non-auto parties at every turn. Lots of mentions of crosswalks, lighting conditions, and visibility of clothing but few notes about Big Gulps, radio fiddling, use of phones, makeup application, driving history, or attention paid to road.
If you walk, or ride the bus, or ride a bicycle you don’t experience the same elevation of pulse, stress level, and anger as experienced when driving – especially at high speeds. It seems mostly confined to the experience of driving in an automobile. So perhaps we should retire “road rage” and start using “car rage”. It won’t do much for the victims but it will at least change the conversation a bit and recognize that the most aggressive parties on our roads (which includes in front of our homes, schools, and businesses) are those using motor vehicles.
There is also a definition for “bike rage” and helpfully included in the examples section are all the different attack methods of cyclists. For some reason, in the road rage entry (below) there not similarly prominent categories regarding attacks by car drivers.
Here’s the road rage entry with some bland categories. The mentions of violence included regard shootings: guns = dangerous, cars = Hello Kitty. It’s almost like we don’t take the responsibility and risk of driving a massive vehicle at high speeds seriously.
Drive safe, drive slow, drive less. Avoid car rage.
Excited to announce that I’m working with Ryan Woldt of Socalsessions.com on a project we’ve dubbed “Bike Sexy”. Basically we think that riding a bike is sexy and we want to encourage people to be loud and proud about it. Being healthy, having fun, helping the planet, saving some money, connecting with your community – how much better does it get? #bikesexy
Our first Bike Sexy product is a sweet black t-shirt with silver reflective ink. The material is light combed cotton that is super soft. You can order online here or hit one of us up personally.
Props also to Ryan for last week’s debut of Night Rider, a film produced with Cool Guys Productions giving a view of the joy of biking in San Diego at night. I’m looking forward to many more video projects highlighting the cultural importance (and fun!) of biking here. Check out the short film below with great music from local band Dead Feather Moon.
Bonus thank you to Ryan for putting together the first Undie Bike Ride in San Diego which took place in Pacific Back on September 17th. Thanks to everyone that came out and hope you had a great time!