This time last year, I took a look at all the things happening in San Diego that suggested the city was accepting its role as a major metropolis and embracing urbanist thinking.
“Urbanism seems to have taken hold of San Diego in 2013,” I wrote.
That seems to have been absurd.
In the year since, some of the crumbs that led me to that conclusion have been dismantled or dismissed. New efforts aimed at making the city a more urban place, with denser development and increased use of public transportation didn’t fare well.
The biggest piece of evidence to suggest San Diego was getting serious about planning and development — the hiring of nationally renowned smart-growth champion Bill Fulton as the city’s planning director — was also the biggest counter-argument in 2014. He was welcomed with open arms in 2013.
He’s already gone. He was pushed out, left unsatisfied or took a can’t-pass-up job, depending on who you ask. He’s now running a university planning institute in Houston.
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When every home will have Solar Panels on its roof. Charging the electric car every night.
Transportation will be irrelevant to Greenhouse Gas Emission.
Solar panels and wind
turbines on the roof of a multi-family apartment building
can never be enough to meet the needs of the
multi-families below and will not be ENERGY COST EFFICIENT.
But Single-family houses will be net ENERGY PRODUCERS -- when multi-family cannot.
For Seth Hall, Catherine Green, etc. Why is supply of housing where people want to live a troubling diagnosis?
Is it troubling to modify rational community growth plane so housing of questionable interest is concentrated hoping to justify mass transit lines that have trivial use in energy/emissions and congestion reduction?
Some argue the best route to affordable housing is convenient reliable transportation, especially clean economical autos.
Io Mark Griffin,
"Give em what they want-----'
Yes, though many still want monster pickups and 500 HP sports sedans.
Fundamental is to preserve on-demand personal direct to real destination, while savong even more energy.
And such can be land saving publuc transportation even for non-drivers.
Some history building on CAPRSDOC’s excellent appraisal of smart growth.
Admiration perhaps for its constancy and political leader promotion of litany, including this and other VOSD comments, for community designs and “fixes”..
The simple theme; rejuvenate mass transit to overcome dominatautos’ unhealthful pollution as if in the 1960’s. As noted to absorb most growth. But that failed, and autos reduced emissions 60%. So in the name of sprawl reduction, smart rowth emphasis shifted to restrict already inadequate roads, and dense community lifestyle changes arranged to favor mass transit. The current Transportation Plan can be read easily to credit this, disputed trolley priority for facilities arrangement and all, for success, through 2035 for at least meeting GHG goals.
But even modest auto improvements make mass transit reduction of energy use and emissions trivial. Auto energy use will again be cut nearly in half starting in 2025. And preserving the personal on-demand direst to destination needed by the vast majority, these very efficient vehicles, using even less land, are a better match with more dense communities. As automation appears, this climate superior Public Personal Transportation will carry non-drivers, now principal users of mass transit.
Isn’t it smart for a technology-driven theme change and merge efforts to produce urban transportation the public clearly wants along with community designs that emphasize productivity and social flexibility?
This article really begs the question: Is what San Diego trying to do "good" urbanism - or even urbanism at all.
Perhaps good urbanism would be making the most of what we have now ... such as putting transit in already dense neighborhoods, instead of trying to create new dense neighborhoods around not yet built transit.
Or making already "urban" neighborhoods more walkable, with more pocket parks, safer/user friendly streets, and better infill development.
From Scott Shermans website............
" Major urban development began occurring in Mission Valley in 1958, mostly because of highway improvements. Today it is an urban center of San Diego, and is home to Qualcomm Stadium, Hotel Circle and several major shopping centers and malls."
Perhaps they should start there, figure out the problems with that "urban" experiment before they plunge headlong into Grantville.
I have a radical idea for SANDAG and SD Planning Department. Instead of trying to build dense housing around proposed transit stops, how about building transit stops where there is already dense housing? Curiously, the most dense neighborhoods in San Diego are lacking good transportation options. Radical idea or common sense? It seems that common sense IS radical these days.
Yes numbers are desirable in articles like this-----including yours. But please be careful about large sounding; even double digit claims.
point is mass transit travel share was, is, and will be trivial, even as
planned through 2050. Numbers to ponder:
Despite nearly 30 years and 1/3rd the total transportation budget, Its share has not reached 2%.
Planned spending 45% of the capotal budget to 2050, travel share is 2.5%; about 5% of rowth
Rest is primarily on-road vehicles accounting
for 95% of energy and emissions reductions.
The 1974 Era of Limits decreed mass transit would absorb furure growth. Instead it’s been 95% for onroad vehicles.
Mexican Border specialdemographics trolley carries more than 40% despite trolley route miles more than tripled
Total mass transit ridership same as 1957 despite about a 30% population increase.
It’s time to look forward to to new personal transportation the public obviously wants.
I'm not sure why you addressed your comment to me.
Give em what they want.............
One would think a set-up claim that "increased use of public transportation didn’t fare well" would be followed in the article by data comparing bus, trolley, and Coaster ridership data across the past few years.
Instead the only even-marginal journalism addressing that claim has to do with SANDAG plans and whether there will be taller buildings near a few trolley stops. Surely you could do more, and if not you should have done less by making no claim about public transit USE.
"It would do that by building lots of homes in dense clusters around transit stations."
The X-factor that makes urban transit successful is proximity to job centers. Unless the majority of the people who live in those "dense clusters" work someplace that is close to another transit station, they will probably get in their cars to go to work in a myriad of locations in the metropolitan area. Will that really significantly reduce GHG emission?
A more practical solution might be to seek ways to encourage more people to telecommute to work.
Another proven method to reduce congestion and pollution: coordinated traffic signals.
"A more practical solution might be to seek ways to encourage more people to telecommute to work."
The organization my wife works for tried this but eliminated it because they felt they had lost control over monitoring work load and felt too many were abusing it.
It was a shame as the added benefits, besides gained commute time, made home more easy to manage.
The commute time of the equation is huge especially when you have kids.
"That seems to have been absurd."
No more absurd than the idea that some "reporter" can act like an expert and offer opinions as facts. As David Cohen states, there is plenty of development, including infill, going on all around the city. But pointing out that would offer a counter view to the "reporter's" agenda and render yet another VoSD "story" as moot. Guess that kind of balance doesn't generate enough donations from the kool aid drinkers.
Though Smart Growth may have some new and innovative ideas about how to increase density in urban areas through infill development for example, the strategies developed to reduce GHG emissions really don't work. Also, Smart Growth focuses on environmental, social, and economic dimensions of planning but completely ignores the political (whether the public will comply) and financial (the costs associated) dimensions. Even the dimensions it does address, fall short. Studies show that if you create priority development areas, the price of housing goes up. If car lanes are removed to allow for more bike use, congestion goes up and so does pollution and GHG emissions. Environmentalists pushing for this planning ideology have a "It's our way or the highway" attitude (Excuse the pun) and with this attitude they forgo an important debate on whether or not Smart Growth/New Urbanism/City of Villages is entirely appropriate for San Diego. Read this report Dimensions of Sustainability published by the American Coalition of Sustainable Communities created for the 2012 League of Cities Convention Expo.
@CAPRSDOC "If car lanes are removed to allow for more bike use, congestion goes up and so does pollution and GHG emissions."
The report you linked to doesn't say that removing car lanes increases congestion, pollution, or GHG emissions. It only says that congestion increases pollution and GHG emissions.
In fact, as you remove lanes, pollution and GHG emissions will drop, because if you remove all the lanes, there will be no place for cars to drive and therefore no way for them to create any pollution or GHG emissions.
@Derek Hofmann @CAPRSDOC The inference is there. Assuming people do not wish to stop driving their cars...if car lanes are removed, traffic inevitably increases. When there is traffic, cars slow down and emissions go up.
"if you remove all the lanes, there will be no place for cars to drive and therefore no way for them to create any pollution or GHG emissions." Your comment here is exactly to my point. There is no political dimension taken into account here. What are your ideas for getting people out of their cars in San Diego?
@CAPRSDOC We show favoritism to drivers when we force business and property owners to provide more parking than the market wants and is willing to pay for. We do it again when we pay for the roads from sales taxes like the TransNet half cent sales tax instead of 100% through gas taxes and user fees. Ending this big-government favoritism for driving would probably result in less driving.
@Jafa Why would we want to make San Diego more like Los Angeles, Houston, or Phoenix?
@Jafa That's a good point. I think a better role model for San Diego (currently 4,003 people per square mile) would be Nice, France (12,000) or Barcelona, Spain (41,420).
Why try to be like someplace else? We have our own history, culture, unique environment. I agree with promoting good public transportation, biking and walking, but I don't agree that increasing the number of housing units per acre is going to make that happen. Ever notice how many of the folks who have moved into the new apartments and condos in the urban neighborhoods near downtown come with multiple extended cab trucks?
I don't dispute that, but when we (retired and) relocated here to a highrise condo adjacent to Balboa Park 10 years ago it took us less that one year to decide we needed only one car and to sell our other one.
I agree with @wadams92101. I think the "Bay Park experience" was ignited by people losing their views. It doesn't take much to start a wildfire and that is what happened when the City proposed raising the height limit. The media continues to stoke the fire by referring to this as a consensus against smart growth.
Residential units are being built again in Downtown and Uptown, including infill. The central core of the City is increasing in population density. That denotes increased urbanism.
" Nonetheless, 2014 showed anyone looking to make San Diego more like San Francisco, Portland or Denver that they have their work cut out for them."
Would certainly be an interesting poll to see if San Diegans Think "density" is a dirty word or not.
Mayor Faulconer has a new chance to lead on climate and urbanism, assuming he prefers a fresh start: he can advocate for and approve a truly transit-first Regional Transportation Plan using his prominent role at at SANDAG.