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Seaport Village, a Model for Enhancing Public Space

 

I spent Wednesday afternoon wandering around Seaport Village and North Marina Park, as a follow up to an earlier public input meeting regarding planning for the redevelopment and integration of Seaport Village with what will be the nearby restored Old Police Headquarters [1].

If you haven’t been down to Seaport Village for a while, I encourage you to do so. It’s a unique place along our downtown waterfront, with its human-scale architecture, its beautiful bayfront seawall walk, the nearby North Marina Park, and its charming interior walks and waterways, bridges, fountains and statues.

Yes, there may be a few too many touristy T-shirt shops, but no other place along our downtown bayfront is as inviting, with quaint little shops where you can stop, buy a cup of good coffee, shop for books, read, talk with new friends and just enjoy the world for a little while along our beautiful bay.

The day I was there, there were dozens of beautiful kites being flown over the North Marina Park next to the village, and the place was full of both locals and visitors enjoying a late lunch at the Pier Café or Busters Beach House and other restaurants. Families were just enjoying the afternoon sunning themselves on the park’s lawns next to the harbor. I’m not sure how so many people got off work in the middle of the week, but they picked a great spot to spend their day off.

While I don’t believe that our whole waterfront should be filled with retail shops, I do think that Seaport Village offers a great example of a place that is far more friendly to pedestrians than closed mega-hotel complexes and giant cruise ships, a place where people can gather with their friends and families to just enjoy our charming waterfront on a beautiful spring day.

Its buildings are carefully sited, not too big and not too small, with plenty of small patios and public spaces to stop, sit and spend some quality time with your friends and families. It provides a useful counterpoint to our sterile North Embarcadero, which today is filled with too many cars and empty cruise ship docks.

What we need along the North Embarcadero are more public parks and more human-scale places like Seaport Village that would help create a more people-friendly space, joining our downtown core with what remains of our downtown public tidelands waterfront. I encourage you to visit Seaport Village and take a look at what our North Embarcadero could become.

In addition to his other affiliations, Don Wood is a member of the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition, an alliance of local civic organizations dedicated to preserving and enhancing public access to downtown San Diego’s waterfront, which is currently involved in ongoing litigation with the port over its alleged failure to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act when it approved the proposal to build the new permanent cruise ship terminal structure on the Broadway Pier.