Re-Imagine Urban San Diego - Great Streets San Diego

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Nov 9, 2013 ... the risks required to become a world class city like New York ... Re-Imagine: Pedestrian Priority Policy ... Re-Imagine: Re-Build Our Businesses.

y l l a RE-IMAGINE URBAN SAN DIEGO Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

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Really Imagine Urban, San Diego


San Diego doesn’t suffer from a lack of imagination or a failure of imagination as much as it suffers from a timidity of imagination. We are a practical lot, endlessly weighing concerns over small ideas, and reluctant to take the risks required to become a world class city like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Paris, and Tokyo. San Diego is not yet thinking as if it is competing with world class cities. We are still preoccupied with convention centers, football stadiums, and traffic congestion. In that way, we are competing with Dallas, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis. Can we attract more conventions? Can we get the Superbowl? How many lanes can we add to the freeway? New York, San Francisco, and Paris aren’t great cities because they have big convention centers or free flowing traffic. They are great cities because they have a sublime quality of urban life. In this publication we dare to imagine a San Diego with a high quality of urban life. We build on the ideas that came before, but take off from there. The ideas are 100% sincere, and 100% possible. Let’s REALLY Imagine San Diego.

Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

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CONTENTS Re-Imagine: Urban San Diego • The Damage Has Already Been Done • A Bigger Picture

Re-Imagine: Pedestrian Priority Policy • A Change of Perspective

Re-Imagine: Re-Made to Move • • • • •

Sustainable Transportation Hierarchy No More Streets 8 Point Policy Transit for the 21st Century Parking - Schmarking.

Re-Imagine: Re-Make Our Places • • • •

Land Use Great Streets Urban Design - Place making Architectural Design

Re-Imagine: Re-Build Our Businesses • Economic Gardening or Hunting?

Re-Image: Re-Invest in Education • Investing in the future

Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

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The Damage Has Already Been Done It’s fun to think, dream and come up with big new ideas. It’s fun to talk about them, argue about them, and then dream some more. But the truth is, if we don’t dream big, think differently, and start changing now, the San Diego we love will no longer exist. We have to stop what we have been doing. Take a look at where we are today. San Diego is over $1Billion behind in infrastructure maintenance. Climate Change is not something that is going to happen, it is something that is already happening, and will continue to happen. If you are reading this, you may very well live to see Mission Beach under water. It is our development patterns, our transportation policies, and our priorities that got us into this mess. The damage has already been done. It is our generation’s duty to dream big, think differently, and act urgently. Doing the same thing is no longer an option. The dream needs to be big, and it needs to start happening now.

“Every morning, Every evening Ain't we got fun? Not much money, oh, but honey Ain't we got fun?”

Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

Lyrics from the satirical song “Ain’t We Got Fun” from the 1920’s-30’s.

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urban san diego

A Bigger Picture Urban San Diego is much more than Downtown San Diego. This Plan looks beyond the artificial borders of the Community Plans, and instead focuses on the heart of San Diego and the shared common characteristics of its urban neighborhoods.


I-15 I-5

Mostly built in the first half of the 20th century, Urban San Diego shares a continuous and contiguous street grid, similar development patterns, a common history, and an urban lifestyle filled with services, restaurants, amenities and multi-cultural communities. Bordered by Interstate 5 on the west, I-8 on the north, I-15 to the east, and the Bay on the south, Urban San Diego is approximately 5.25 x 5.25 miles (27.5 sq. miles) at its widest points. This makes Urban San Diego similar in size to San Francisco, Manhattan, and downtown Los Angeles. Currently each community develops its own - and sometimes disparate- Community Plan. Yet Uptown cannot be considered separately and independently from Downtown or North Park anymore than a nose can be considered separately from its face.

Bordered by Interstate 5 on the west, I-8 on the north, I-15 to the east, and the Bay on the south, Urban San Diego is approximately 5.25 x 5.25 miles.

Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

In order for each community to succeed, they must work as one. That is not to say that each community must give up its individual identity and become the same. But on issues such as Transportation, Land Use, Urban Design, and Density, they must work in cooperation as one. This is San Diego’s heart. This is Urban San Diego.

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pedestrian priority policy

The Urban San Diego neighborhoods realize that cities exist to create opportunities for social interaction between people. The better a city is at creating social interaction, the greater the city, the more innovative the city, the more productive the city, and the more vibrant the city So it is no mystery that People are at the starting point and the center of Re-Imagine Urban San Diego. Urban San Diego adopts the following policies: • Implement a Pedestrian Priority Policy to be applied the four major General Plan categories: Land Use, Mobility, Urban Design, and Economic Prosperity. • Adopt urban design and architectural guidelines that encourage people to walk, sit, and stay in the public realm. • Adopt the Green Hierarchy of Transportation Modes. • Review and revise zoning maps to bring them into compliance with walkability to employment, retail, services, schools, parks, entertainment, etc. • All other considerations being equal, when resources are scarce, street space is constrained, or competing classification designations create conflict, prioritize investment and design accommodation with pedestrians as the priority.

Putting Pedestrians First creates a more sustainable development pattern, a stronger economy, requires less infrastructure, and produces a higher quality of life. Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

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A Change of Perspective Land Use Mobility Urban Design Economic ! Prosperity

Economic Prosperity Cities that create social interactions between people are typically more productive, more innovative, have higher wages, and more prosperity. The mixture of density, a varied of uses, people using the public realm, and an educated populace are the key elements required for economic prosperity. Land Use that is diversified with a wide variety of uses located in every neighborhood helps to create a less fragile economy. The economy is less susceptible during down turns and more robust during good times.

Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

Urban San Diego adopts a Pedestrian Priority Policy for all Urban Planning decisions not just transportation, but for Land Use, the design of buildings and the public realm, and how we create economic success.

Land Use Element

Mobility Element Cars have been the default priority in all transportation planning since the mid 20th century. Urban San Diego adopts the Green Hierarchy of Transportation and puts the pedestrian as first priority. Our streets have been designed to maximize the efficient flow of vehicular traffic. They are not designed to nurture life, or to capture value. Pedestrians as first priority will help create streets that capture economic, social, and cultural value.

Imagine a Land Use Policy that prioritized pedestrians -- Land Use that necessitated that people be able to walk to work, to retail, to restaurants, to school, to parks, and to services. Such a policy turns zoning on its head. It also increases the opportunities for social exchanges and social interaction. It creates more vibrant, economically sustainable, and safer neighborhoods by having a wide variety of uses at all times of the day.

Urban Design Element Putting pedestrians first in urban design means creating a built environment that is designed for people moving at 3 mph, not 30 mph. It means architectural design guidelines that address human interest, engage people, and encourages them to walk, sit, and stay in the public realm. It means design based on how people use and perceive the built environment. !

Cities are People

It also necessitate a more dense environment since people need to be closer to the places they use. This helps to create more environmentally sustainable development. Land Use like this is economically more diverse, and therefore less fragile. It is less susceptible turning economic down turns and more robust during good economic times.

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re-made to move • No new Streets: Accommodate growth in demand for transportation using the existing street network without increasing capacity. • Implement a Transportation Policy that prioritizes pedestrians, and which adopts the Sustainable Transportation Hierarchy model. • Adopt and implement the 8 point transportation policy outlined on the following pages. • Connect Urban San Diego with a REAL transit system worth of a great city that includes subways, streetcars, trolleys, bus rapid transit and local bus service. • Uncouple parking from development by eliminating mandatory minimum parking requirements, and allow market driven parking capped by maximum parking requirements. • Reduce parking demand, better manage existing parking and reduce parking where possible to inhibit parking induced traffic.

Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

The No. 1 Priority in transportation is to address Climate Change and improve Quality of Life by reducing VMTs, reducing demand for parking, and prioritizing City streets for people. Page 8

Growing Transportation There is one thing that is certain: There will be more people living in the Urban San Diego area in the future. There is a another certainty: The street grid is already well defined, and the properties fronting the streets are built-out. Short of bulldozing blocks of homes and businesses, our streets will remain the size they are now for decades to come. Therefore, San Diego is faced with a Quandary: How to plan for transportation growth in a fixed world. If we do nothing, or even the same thing, San Diego faces a declining quality of life and congestion. Urban San Diego will adopt the following policies to deal with future transportation growth.

Transportation Policy for the 21st Century Policy #1: Accommodate growth in demand for transportation using the existing road network, without increasing road capacity. Policy #2: Accommodate growth in demand for transportation by improving alternatives to the car: walking, bicycling and transit. Policy #3: Adopt a complete street design approach for key pedestrian, bicycle, and transportation network of streets Policy #4: All other considerations being equal, when resources are scarce, street space is constrained, or competing classification designations create conflict, use a “green hierarchy of modes” to prioritize investment and design accommodation. The “hierarchy of modes” is in this order: walking, bicycling, transit, freight, car-share/ taxi/commercial transport, and private automobiles. Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

Policy #5: The car will continue to be a major form of transport particularly for areas not well served by transit. Measures to manage traffic and parking demand, such as carpooling, parking limits, and electronic road charges, will be supported. Policy #6: The importance of maintaining good truck access is recognized by maintaining the existing truck route network. Improved access to commercial areas will be pursued where it can be achieved without unreasonable impacts on local neighborhoods. Policy #7: Traffic calming measures will be supported to slow the speed of traffic and prevent the impacts of vehicles moving through neighborhoods. Policy #8: Planning, Land Use, and development policies for The City will support local retailing, personal, business, and community services so that residents can find more of the services and jobs they need closer to home. Page 9

Urban San Diego Transit Plan 2050

Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

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They Paved Paradise If plentiful free parking created great neighborhoods, and great businesses, people would be lined up to go to their local mall or McDonalds. Instead, the opposite is true. People seek out great neighborhoods, restaurants, and businesses because of the quality of life they offer- not the quantity of parking. Urban San Diego knows that plentiful free parking can actually induce car traffic. That is not the goal. The goal is to reduce the demand for parking and better manage the parking that exists. Reducing demand can be done by reducing VMT’s, and providing a built environment where walking, bicycling, and transit are preferred methods of transportation. Likewise, returning parking to the free market can right size the amount of parking needed and stop the government subsidy of free, mandated parking. Parking can be better managed by using demand pricing, location sensors for cell phone parking apps, and other techniques. Finally, encouraging developers to use innovative parking solutions, such as automated parking garages, can help reduce the impact parking has on the built environment and urban fabric.

Put Up A Parking Lot Outlining the off-street, surface parking lots in Hillcrest shows how parking has ripped holes in the urban fabric. Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

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re-make our places An Urban San Diego for People. • Implement a Land Use policy that prioritizes pedestrians. A pedestrian first Land Use policy necessitates that residents be able to walk to employment, services, retail, entertainment and parks. • Re-make the streets so that they prioritize pedestrians, and adhere to the sustainable transportation hierarchy model. • Return all one-way streets in the downtown neighborhood to two-way streets, with bicycle lanes or cycletracks. Evaluate one-way streets in other neighborhoods for similar treatment. • Implement a Plazas and Parks program that identifies opportunities and creates pedestrian oriented spaces in the public realm.

The No. 1 Priority of Urban San Diego is to maximize serendipitous social interaction by creating a built, urban environment and public realm that encourages people to walk, sit, and stay.

Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

• Institute architectural design guidelines that prioritizes pedestrians and active street level design.

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One-way into Two-way The one-way streets in downtown have been designed to move vehicles through downtown as quickly and efficiently as possible. As long as this is the goal, they will never nurture street life or become vibrant places that capture economic, social and cultural value. Streets can either move traffic efficiently, or be places that nurture life. They cannot do both at the same time, and when they try, they don’t do either well. Urban San Diego recommends, for immediate action, restoring two way traffic on the streets downtown. This will also free up an extra travel lane which can be converted into a bike lane or cycle-track. Two-way traffic will have a traffic calming effect, provide more connectivity, and reduce the traffic moving through the area. Then streets can be more pedestrian friendly, landscaped, and begin to capture true value.

New York City’s Public Plaza Program identifies opportunities for pubic space and tries them out on a temporary basis. If they work they are made permanent. Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

Public Plaza /Parks Program

Re-making Urban San Diego’s Public Realm It’s difficult to design a space that will not attract people. What is remarkable, is how often this has been done -William H Whyte

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There’s No Place Like HOME ... There’s No Place Like HOME ... Type to enter text

There’s No Place Like HOME ...

re-build our ! businesses • Adopt a policy of “Economic Gardening” instead of “Economic Hunting”. No more hunting - trying to bag the “big” business that will spur economic development. Instead, nurture and develop businesses that already exist. • Encourage existing San Diego businesses to move to Urban San Diego neighborhoods in order to be within walking distance of their employees. • Work with The City to develop a “micro” loan program to establish small businesses - everything from yogurt shops to software development.

“Well, I - I think that ... if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?” -Dorothy Gale, in the Wizard of Oz Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

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in education

Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!


Not a single policy put forth in this plan works without a well educated populace. Re-investing in education in Urban San Diego must be the corner stone of all future development. Density without education does not provide innovation or productivity. There cannot be a wide variety of land use and mixed uses if there is not an educated business class. Education is Urban San Diego’s history - from the Normal School to the New School. It is also the future. • Work with San Diego teachers to create a high quality school system in Urban San Diego. • Explore funding options. • Work with San Diego Unified School District to place a higher priority to schools in high density areas.

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I am Walter Chambers, perhaps better known for my urban design blog, Great Streets San Diego, and lesser known for my design firm, 3mph. I am responsible for the content of this publication, although I confess that none of the ideas are original. I must give credit for the ideas (or blame - however you see it) to the usual suspects: Jane Jacobs, William H Whyte, Jan Gehl, Edward Glasser, Charles Marohn, Richard Florida, Nassim Taleb, etc. I realize that a little knowledge in the wrong hands can be dangerous, and I apologize to the above if I have misused or abused their good works in any way. They truly are my heroes.

[email protected] Twitter: @GreatStreetsSD Facebook:

Re-Imagine Urban San Diego!

Re-Imagine Urban San Diego was written as a labor of love - a kind of personal manifesto, but also written out of anger, frustration, impatience, and intolerance. These emotions can be great motivators. For that motivation I owe thanks to various government and non-government agencies and organizations, various politicians and various community groups (that shall go unnamed) for their timidity of imagination that pushed me forward and kept me writing. A very special thanks goes to the Downtown San Diego Partnership for their “Imagine Downtown”. It provided endless hours of motivation. (Improving parking should never, ever be the top priority of any transportation plan.) This Plan is also a dare and a challenge for San Diego to start thinking big. Daniel Burham famously said, “Make no little Plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.” To that I would add ... make big plans, but at a people sized scale. People must always come first in any plan.

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