From a Sleepy Town to a Global City

Creating new economic, political engines

Can building design make you healthy?

The San Diego Union Tribune
By: Roger Showly

Posted: May 14, 2016

Urban Land Institute’s San Diego-Tijuana chapter named seven recipients in its first Healthy Places awards program plus one for a college student project. The County Waterfront Park won the grand prize. — ULI/San Diego-Tijuana

After decades of building car-centric suburbs, developers now realize they may be partly responsible for a rising tide of obesity.

Now, led by the Urban Land Institute think tank in Washington, D.C., they’re pivoting to “healthy places” where walkability, parks, community gardens and public transit can reverse the trends.

San Diego inaugurated this new era Wednesday with its first Healthy Places Awards program, sponsored by the local chapter of the Urban Land Institute.

The County Waterfront Park, the $50 million makeover of the parking lots at the County Administration Center, received the Healthy Place Crown Jewel Award because it celebrates recreation, urban living and a new use for an asphalt wasteland.

ULI local chairman Greg Shannon, whose Sedona Development is currently working on a 6,500-acre master-plan community in Tijuana, said the healthy places movement hit home to him when his wife gave him a Fitbit.

He racked up an admirable 10,000 daily steps on a Sunday. But at work the next day, activity dropped by two-thirds because he was glued to his desk.

“Probably over the last 60 years we’ve done a great job making things as convenient and efficient as we can, and we’ve fallen a little too much in love with technology,” he said. “But those things have unintended consequences. One is health has suffered with all the driving we do. We have greenhouse gases, car emissions, diabetes, asthma.”

Outgoing local ULI executive director Mary Lydon said the awards program revived an annual event that honored smart growth projects until 2010. The recession brought a historic drop in growth and no more awards.

“Moving from smart growth to healthy places is definitely a step in the right direction,” she said.

Hilltop gARTen — ULI/San Diego-Tijuana

ULI is an 80-year-old membership organization based in Washington, D.C., and is made up of about 38,000 developers, financiers, architects and other real estate industry leaders.

ULI senior fellow Ed McMahon said selling other members on making health a priority was tough at first.

“Developers are interested in something that they can do to make money,” he said.

But as case studies piled up, doubters came to realize that well-designed and located projects with walking paths, fitness centers, public transit and access to parks and healthy food stores paid off.

“Every single person in the world is interested in their health,” McMahon said. “What we found is health-promoting features in development are probably one of the best sells there is.”

He cited a CEOs for Cities report that found that every one point increase in the Walk Score index raises a property’s value anywhere from $500 to $3,000.

UCLA public health professor Dr. Richard Jackson, former director of the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Environmental Health and keynote speaker at the Wednesday awards event, offered another metric.

After one year of operation, riders on Charlotte, N.C.’s light-rail transit system lost an average of 6 pounds over those who drove to work.

“My students have a very different vision of the America they want to live in,” Jackson said, and it’s not the big, isolated suburban house surrounded by a picket fence. “They don’t want to be like their parents who drive an hour and a half to work each way, come home and stretch out and buy fast food because they have no time to cook dinner.”

Today’s obesity problem is the result of 70 years of suburbanization, the healthy places advocates say, and it can be reversed by better planning, more community gardens, less reliance on cars and revitalization of inner city neighborhoods where mixed incomes can live comfortably side by side.

Gregor Connors, 35, chairman of the ULI healthy places initiative, said he grew up in Poway and lives on the North County coast. He isn’t sold, at least not yet, on downtown living, especially for families with school-age children. But the graduate of the University of San Diego’s real estate master’s program does believe the merger of financial feasibility with good design will result in healthier living.

“It’s about great opportunity and better choices,” he said.

‘Connection’ Urged for Mission Valley

The San Diego Union Tribune
By: Roger Showly

Posted: April 30, 2016

SDSU annex, gondolas, river park discussed in preparation for area’s 2018 plan update

San Diego State University’s possible redevelopment of the Qualcomm Stadium property might result in worse problems for Mission Valley if not done right.

That was one of the warnings that came out of a Thursday breakfast forum on the valley’s future, sponsored by the Citizens Coordinate for Century 3 planning group.

An update, due in 2018, is in the works for the MissionValley community plan and various groups and experts are toying with a variety of new directions, such as creation of a San Diego River Park at the stadium and managing the valley’s traffic congestion through a new approach to land use.

Asked if the valley has one or more “hearts,” downtown architect and urban planner Frank Wolden, who has studied the valley extensively, focused on the 166-acre stadium property.

 

An aerial gondola in Portland, Ore., could be a model for similar transporation in Mission Valley.

SDSU’s president recently endorsed the idea of locating a campus annex at the site. Ideas include student housing, a new Aztec football stadium and researchfacilities. “I worry about the SDSU proposal,” Wolden said, “not because it’s not a good idea.” Rather, he said the site shouldn’t be used for a single purpose or isolate itself from surrounding developments.

“It needs to have a river park,” he said. “It needs to have an urban village with streets running through it.”

The same approach should be taken with specific plans in place throughoutthe valley, he said. “They can’t be ‘projects,’” he said. “There’ve got to bemultipurpose venues that are pieces of a ‘new city’ that is forming, that is connected and creating experiences.”

One new experience that drew some attention was installing aerial gondolas that could ferry between the valley floor and the north and south rims.

“I’m a very large promoter of aerial trams,” said Nancy Graham, the city planner leading the team to rewrite the community plan.

She said the gondolas could help feed into mass transit lines serving the valley and help reduce car traffic. Part of the reworking of the existing plan that dates back to the 1980s is to use a different way to measure traffic instead of counting average daily trips generated by each land use.

“If you squint, you can believe it’s Mission Valley,” Graham said, as images flashed on a screen of gondolas in Portland, Ore., and inBarcelona, Spain. Rob Hutsel, executive director of the San Diego River Park Foundation, and landscape architect Glen Schmidt shared concepts for a 60-acre park at the Qualcomm Stadium site.

“It’s an incredible opportunity how we rethink Mission Valley,” Hutsel said.

Marco Sessa, senior vice presdient at Sudberry Properties, spoke of the latest phases at the company’s Civita residential project. He said he is concerned that numerous requirements are pushing prices above the$500,000 mark for condos and townhomes.

“The higher density it is, the more expensive it is,” he said. “The more sustainability features there are, the more expensive it is. That is a transformative issue, unfortunately, that we need to figure out how to address.”

Forum moderator Mary Lydon, outgoing executive director of the Urban Land Institute local chapter, urged the breakfast audience of about 60 to focus on reality rather than ideas that may prove impossible to implement.

“There are many constraints to Mission Valley and that’s always a part of the conversation,” she said.

Andrew Michajlenko, a Gensler architects designmanager and Civita resident, said the valley’s common theme for the future should be built around a “string of pearls” along the river that could be accessed on foot. He also said one of the most challenging goals will be to bridge the river at several spots to provide more north-south connections.

Tracey Scott, a senior urban planner at architect Wolden’s Skyport Studio, said the new valley plan also should envision how the area will fit into San Diego’sgreater urban vision. “I think we really need to think about the next 100 years— what is Mission Valley going to become and why do people want to go there and what are they going toget of going there, what kind of benefit,” she said.

Hutsel said as chairman of one of the community planning group’s subcommittees, he sees great potential in a number of specific property owner proposals. They include the construction of thousands of apartments or condos at the Riverwalk golf course; the redevelopment of the Town & Country hotel property; and the reuse of the Union-Tribune building and its site once the newspaper staff moves downtown next month.

“I think there’s incredible potential in Mission Valley today and I’m looking forward to it,” Hutsel said.

Stadium task force: Plan ‘fair’ to Chargers, taxpayers

ABC 10 News

By: James R. Riffel, City News Service , Steve Fiorina

Posted: May 18, 2015

Construction of a 65,000-seat football stadium for San Diego should be financed with a mix of financial contributions from the city and county of San Diego, the Chargers and the NFL, plus bond and land sales, an advisory group appointed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer recommended Monday.

A report released by the nine-member group two days before its deadline said no new taxes would be included, so that a two-thirds vote of the public would not be required. Funding sources would exceed $1.4 billion for a facility estimated to cost around $1.1 billion, according to the report.

Read the Full Report courtesy of 10 News

We have overstated costs just a bit, and understated revenue just a bit, making for a very prudent, fiscally conservative recommendation,” said Adam Day, chairman of the Chargers Stadium Advisory Group. “It overcomes all the hurdles that were thrown in our path — both real and imagined — and it is a good deal for the taxpayers.”

He said the task force conducted extensive research and analysis of NFL stadiums that have been constructed in recent years. Another consideration was to make sure the Chargers and other tenants would enjoy the financial benefits of a new playing facility, rather than designating all the new revenue streams toward construction costs.

“We developed a financing plan that would actually succeed in this unique San Diego environment, ensuring that it is fair for the Chargers and other tenants, fair for the city and county, and fair for taxpayers,” Day said.

“Our plan is the first of its kind, and it should jump-star negotiations between the Chargers, the city and the county,” Day said, adding that the recommendations provide “a fair and workable path to a new stadium in San Diego.”

Mark Fabiani, the Chargers’ general counsel on stadium issues, issued a statement saying that he’s grateful for the CSAG members who volunteered their time.

“We will now ask our stadium development team — including our financing, legal and land-use experts — to thoroughly review the CSAG results,” Fabiani said.

Faulconer said the plan is “tangible” and “achievable.”

“Earlier today I communicated to Chargers owner Dean Spanos that the city/county team and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith are ready to sit down and negotiate,” Faulconer said. “I’d like to start by June 1. San Diegans deserve a good and fair deal, and I will not accept or support anything less.”

The mayor’s full statement:

“San Diego has come together since we began this path toward a new stadium. Despite so many dramatic changes and potential distractions, both here and elsewhere over the last four months, our community rallied and kept moving forward. Today, San Diego has a framework to build a new stadium that’s tangible, that’s achievable and that won’t raise taxes.

I thank each volunteer who has served on the Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group for their diligent and careful efforts on behalf of their fellow San Diegans. They have shown the spirit of optimism and determination that makes San Diego great.

We are now ready for another first – beginning formal negotiations with the Chargers. The County and City of San Diego have, for the first time, assembled an experienced negotiating team that will review the CSAG report as it prepares for talks with the team. Earlier today I communicated to Chargers owner Dean Spanos that the City/County team and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith are ready to sit down and negotiate. I’d like to start by June 1. San Diegans deserve a good and fair deal, and I will not accept or support anything less.

My continued commitment is that if we reach a stadium agreement with the Chargers, San Diegans will have their say with a public vote. When this measure will be on the ballot will be discussed through negotiations with the team.
As we all begin to review the details of the CSAG report, one thing is clear: we’re all in this together. The Chargers are beloved by generations of San Diegans. San Diego has worked in good faith with the team and the NFL and will continue to do so. I am confident that if the team comes to the table with a willingness to work together, we will get this done for the benefit of our community, with protections for taxpayers and for the enjoyment of future generations.”

Supervisor Ron Roberts, who has served as the public face for the county on stadiums, said the report shows a path forward for the project.

“While there is much to be done in the coming months, this is a time for optimism,” Roberts said.

The task force has already recommended that the facility be built adjacent to Qualcomm Stadium, which would be razed to make way for development, including a massive parking structure, a 500-room hotel and a park alongside the San Diego River.

Day said he envisions a pedestrian-friendly, transit oriented mixed-use project, but not a high-density development that would draw opposition from Mission Valley residents.

The next step will be for a team of financial and legal experts to take the recommendations and mold them into an actual plan that can be taken to the Chargers and voters. The city and county of San Diego jointly hired Nixon Peabody, which has consulted on 25 stadium projects, and Citigroup, which has been involved in raising money to build stadiums recently in Atlanta, New York and Orlando.

The Chargers have been pushing for a new playing facility for more than a dozen years, and have recently taken steps to build a joint $1.7 billion stadium with the rival Oakland Raiders in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson. The proposed 72,000-seat facility off the San Diego (405) Freeway is considered to be a backup plan for both teams in case they aren’t able to forge agreements in their current cities.

Also, the owner of the St. Louis Rams is planning to build an 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood, another Los Angeles suburb.

The funding breaks down to:

  • $300 million from the Chargers
  • $200 million from the National Football League
  • $225 million from the sale of 75 acres of Qualcomm Stadium land to a developer
  • $173 million of bondable construction capital leveraged with team’s $10 million annual rent
  • $121 million from the city of San Diego, which would come from savings from retiring Qualcomm Stadium debt
  • $121 million from the county of San Diego
  • more than $100 million from fans in the form of personal seat licenses, and surcharges on parking and tickets
  • $21.6 million rent from San Diego State University and the organizers of the Holiday and Poinsettia bowls, with $1.25 million paid by both annually

SDSU released a statement that said the development of its athletic program was a critical part of its goal of becoming a Top 50 public university, and it would channel the support of its 350,000 students, faculty, staff and alumni toward the development. University officials have long eyed the Qualcomm property for potential expansion.

The report said another $50 million could be raised with naming rights, sales of bricks, and capital contributions from concessionaires and telecommunications firms.

Faulconer said that while a two-thirds public vote won’t be required, he still would like a final deal with the Chargers to go before voters. He said that San Diegans want a plan that makes sense, is fair and is fiscally responsible.

“That’s one of the things we’re going to spend most of our time on here as we move forward with negotiations with the Chargers, which is to make sure that it is a plan that’s fiscally responsible,” Faulconer told City News Service. “To have our City Attorney’s Office working together with outside experts, we have a team that is together, that is ready to go, and I’m confident that we’ll come up with a solution that makes sense.”

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said the report shows that a stadium project is doable.

“These people put a lot of time and effort into this, and I’m really impressed with their volunteer work,” Goldsmith said. He said he doesn’t believe any legal issues exist that would be insurmountable.

The advisory group released renderings of what a new stadium might look like by Dan Meis, who is responsible for designing NFL facilities in Cincinnati and Philadelphia, as well as the Staples Center in Los Angeles and Safeco Field in Seattle.

A San Diego State University spokesman issued this statement regarding the stadium proposal:

“San Diego State University appreciates the opportunity to have participated with the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group in the planning process for a new stadium and we are eager to participate fully in a partnership that will retain the Chargers in San Diego and advance our region. As we continue our efforts to become one of our nation’s top 50 public universities, the development of, and investment in our athletic programs, including our football program, is a critical priority. And we are committed to channeling the support of our 350,000 students, faculty, staff and alumni to ensure the successful development of a new stadium for San Diego.”

Former Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman told 10News, “I’m more excited than at first. Now you have room to grow. Now it’s a real proposal to me and fair on both sides.”

Dan McLellan, vice president of the San Diego Stadium Coalition, added, “Sadly, there’s little to be excited about here. I think they’re asking for too big a contribution from the team.”

San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman released this statement:

“I give my utmost thanks to the members of CSAG who have sacrificed their time to complete this report. After years of just generalized concepts, we now have an in-depth, detailed plan. As the Councilmember who represents the area, it is also very encouraging to see the inclusion of a 31 acre park to expand and enhance the San Diego River Park as well as plans to upgrade infrastructure and traffic mitigation in the surrounding community.”

San Diego Taxfighters Chairman Richard Rider issued the following statement:

“I’d like to see the actual Charger stadium proposal. But based on the task force’s official write-up which I presume is accurate, appears to be a $467 million taxpayer giveaway to keep the Chargers here — ignoring cost overruns and ‘surprises.’ And apparently that’s not counting the 60 acres of land valued at $180 million (not sure how land ownership is handled). Again, I caution that my interpretation of the proposal may not be completely accurate.

The fact that there is no actual tax INCREASE is no surprise — the proponents were desperate to avoid any taxpayer vote on the matter. I predicted this wrinkle months ago.

Is it sound policy for our city and county to provide such a huge subsidy to a business owned by a billionaire that employs millionaires? Not in my mind. That money and salable land are assets that can be used to help with our pension funding problems, and our even bigger multi-billion dollar infrastructure deficit.

I’d like for the Chargers to stay, but not at that cost — a total of about $650 million (or more). Not even close.”

Kris Michell, president of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, told 10News, “I think it’s a great day. It’s very exciting because it’s realistic and hit every mark. It didn’t overstate revenue, didn’t understate things. It should be given serious consideration.”

Chargers fan Tyler Roberson told 10News, “I think everything is awesome. I hope the Chargers go along with it.”

Quincy Cheatham echoed that thought, saying, “We love our city, love our Chargers. Need them to stay here.”

Read the Story on 10 News

Taking a Wide Lens on Mission Valley

Qualcomm Stadium

Qualcomm Stadium / Photo by Sam Hodgson

New developments don’t exist in isolation — they can have a big impact on a neighborhood. That’s why the Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group decided early on to take a holistic approach once we selected Mission Valley as the preferred site for a new Chargers stadium.

Less than three months ago, Mayor Kevin Faulconer asked us to do two things:

  • Select the most viable site from two potential sites for a new multi-use stadium. We chose the current Mission Valley location for a number of reasons, including development expediency and cost.
  • Develop a financing plan to pay for it.

With the site selection behind us, we’re focused on vetting the different financing tools and potential pools of money we can draw upon. Our goal is to finalize the financing plan and send it to Faulconer for his review by the end of May.

A few of us are also looking at the overall development of Mission Valley. It’s important for us to consider what’s next for this growing community of 22,000 residents, and how best to accommodate growth that is coming to Mission Valley with or without a new stadium.

WATCH: San Diego Explained: Take a Tour of Mission Valley’s Big Plans

Meanwhile, San Diego is working against the clock to hang onto its football team. The Chargers are competing with other NFL teams for a stadium in Los Angeles, and the team has made a series of moves to try to win that contest.

In order to present the mayor with a fair and workable plan that serves as a starting point for negotiations between him and Chargers owner Dean Spanos, I suggested we take a step back and look beyond the 166-acre site in Mission Valley to explore how other opportunities and constraints could affect the stadium.

We assembled a team of top designers and land use professionals from Urban Land Institute San Diego-Tijuana and the San Diego Chapter of the American Institute of Architects to help us look deeper into the ramifications of a new Chargers stadium. San Diego River Park Foundation experts and a representative from the Mission Valley Planning Group were also on this team.

Creating a new, mixed-use, transit-oriented village will more than likely be one funding source in the advisory group’s financing plan. We’re looking at what would be an appropriate scale for this village, and projecting its impact on the Mission Valley community.

Meanwhile, the site would need major improvements to boost game day mobility. One thing to consider would be expanding the existing east-west trolley line, along with constructing a state-of-the-art transit hub near the interstate. It would connect to a new trolley line, the Purple Line, which would run north and south along I-15.

As we start to address these mobility issues, an early step should be updating Mission Valley’s community plan. And to finance infrastructure improvements, we could take advantage of a new state program called Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts, which uses property tax increment to finance and construct or rehab a wide variety of public infrastructure and private facilities. Mission Valley might also explore a shuttle to connect residential areas to existing transit stations.

Building the San Diego River Park along the southern edge of the site would create a new regional asset and bring the river back to life, offering several dozen acres of open space and parkland. Bike and pedestrian paths would run along the river and link to greater Mission Valley.

With all this in mind, it’s important we make sure San Diegans are able to take advantage of the amenities year-round. A carefully planned mixed-use village could bring restaurants, shops, museums, an interpretive center for local history and outdoor sports activities that would benefit everybody throughout the year.

In order to keep the stadium site alive outside of Chargers game days, decision-makers need to retain a proven event management company to book year-round activities like concerts, special events and conferences. The design of the stadium needs to be flexible to accommodate expanded seating for Super Bowls and smaller events that won’t require use of the entire stadium.

Creating a new and smaller sports stadium with a mixed-use, transit-oriented center, rich with amenities and a regional park would enhance the business model for the Chargers like no other option the team is exploring. Further, it would boost our civic pride, through the creation of an iconic regional park with year-round activities for all to enjoy.

We’ll continue to work on behalf of all the stakeholders using holistic planning to find the nexus where the Chargers, Mission Valley, San Diego County and all the citizens who live here win.

Mary Lydon is executive director of Urban Land Institute San Diego-Tijuana.

A stadium for San Diego: A task force that just might work

U-T San Diego

Editorial Board 02:25p.m. Jan 30, 2015

Despite much public skepticism about “yet another task force” to plan a new football stadium for San Diego and the Chargers, and despite the history of failure of many similar groups, there is solid reason for optimism that this time it will be different, that this time it will succeed.

The task force announced Friday by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is packed with the right mix of expertise. It has unmatched National Football League expertise in Jim Steeg, the former NFL executive who more than anyone turned the Super Bowl into one of the world’s greatest sporting events. It has top-flight business expertise in Sempra executive Jessie Knight, business leaders Jason Hughes, Rod Dammeyer and Aimee Faucett, a top executive at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. It has extensive experience in San Diego sports issues in Doug Barnhart, who has served on the Qualcomm Stadium Advisory Board, the San Diego International Sports Council and past Super Bowl committees and whose construction companies helped build Petco Park and other major landmarks. It has unparalleled government and public finance expertise in Walt Ekard, the county’s former top administrator. It has political savvy in Adam Day, a state college system trustee and assistant manager for the Sycuan tribe and who has strong ties to Gov. Jerry Brown. And it has land-use expert Mary Lydon, executive director of the Urban Land Institute of San Diego and Tijuana, who will also infuse expertise about this binational region.

There are no representatives of the Chargers on the task force. Nor is businessman Steve Cushman, a Chargers nemesis, on it. Faulconer rightly wanted to keep the group small and unencumbered by members with a direct stake in the outcome.

Their task will hardly be easy. But this is a group that can get it done.

“If it was easy, it would have been done 10 years ago,” Faulconer told the U-T Editorial Board Friday, acknowledging the many questions that must be resolved regarding location, the thorny issue of whether to combine a stadium with an expansion of the downtown convention center and, the toughest nut of all, the financing.

The mayor also acknowledged the lukewarm response of the Chargers and of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to the Friday task force announcement.

“This has been going on for 13 years,” he said. “There’s no doubt there’s been a lot of false starts. What I’ve tried to do is set a real deadline with a real plan and real financing. I think that’s what’s been missing from the equation.”

Another thing that’s been missing in the past is mayoral commitment. Faulconer is the first to have made it.

“My goal is to have Super Bowls in San Diego,” he said.

There is an adage that task forces are where controversial ideas go to die. Maybe not this time.

Planners’ new slogan: Winner or dud?

‘Complete community’ offered as replacement for ‘smart growth’

Roger Showley • UT

 

The Urban Land Institute panel included, from left, Diego Velasco, Reese Jarrett, Joe LaCava and Darin Dinsmore.

The Urban Land Institute panel, from left: Diego Velasco, Reese Jarrett, Joe LaCava and Darin Dinsmore

Urban planners and developers, always on the hunt for a new catchphrase, admitted Wednesday that they have largely failed to tell the public what’s ahead as San Diego enters an increasingly urbanized future.

“It was instructive to me about how we are perhaps not communicating with the average person,” said Joe LaCava, one of the panelists at an Urban Land Institute breakfast panel Thursday, recalling the feeling after one explosive neighborhood meeting earlier this year.

The group toyed with the latest buzzword, “complete communities,” as a new way to communicate what they’re up to. The phrase is meant to entice the public to accept growth by offering a higher quality of life that’s free of congestion, full of housing they can afford and closeby shopping, recreation and workplaces.

Previous slogans have apparently fallen flat: smart growth, city of villages, transit oriented development.

Mary Lydon, executive director of the local ULI chapter, said the search for a new way forward began last year, when a larger meeting reviewed six case studies and eight cities’ stories in how they coped with neighborhood opposition and produced a successful project or program.

“How do we move forward to realize that vision?” Lydon asked the four-member panel, moderated by Voice of San Diego’s Andrew Keatts.

LaCava, chairman of the city’s Community Planners Committee, said too often community planning meetings attract the in-crowd of professionals and civic activists, while the grassroots, silent majority remain absent and unheard.

Then it’s the developer who unwittingly must implement the new rules in the face of skeptical citizens, who have been disappointed when completed projects look nothing like the pretty renderings previously released.

“To me it’s unfair burden on the private developer,” LaCava said.

To Diego Velasco, a Barrio Logan planner at the M.W. Steele Group and president of the Citizens Coordinate for Century 3 good-planning group, the debate about San Diego’s future is muddied by generational disconnects — young people want to live in urban centers and do without a car, while their elders like the suburbs.

But with little open land left to develop new suburbs, the projected growth of San Diego by a million people over the next 30 years means suburban life will change.

“We’re living in an increasingly urban world and San Diego is no different,” he said. “There’s a disconnect between that group of people (in the suburbs) and that group of people who are choosing to live in urban neighborhoods.”

To bridge the gap, Darin Dinsmore, CEO of the Crowdbrite consulting firm, said new technology allows for more broad-based, online community participation in public policy.

“One of the biggest challenges is how to engage people in an authentic way in planning the future of cities and communities,” he said.

That’s one of the goals at Civic San Diego, said its president Reese Jarrett. The city’s development arm for downtown and inner-city neighborhoods is trying to find new funds and partners to make improvements while involving local residents and business leaders.

“We need to spend more time asking them how to complete their neighborhood and make it better,” Jarrett said.

The complete communities concept was promulgated by the Reconnecting America public transit advocacy group, which has since disbanded. It rated how complete America’s 366 metropolitan areas, including San Diego County are in four key areas — living, working, moving and “thriving” in the 21st century

Its 2012 report — “Are We There Yet?” — rated 366 metropolitan areas, including San Diego, in four key areas — living, working, moving and “thriving” in the 21st century.

San Diego earned three C’s and a B, while six other metro areas got all A’s — Denver, Honolulu, New York, Portland, San Francisco and San Jose.

In San Diego the debate over what Jarrett called the “D-word” — building density — reached a fever pitch earlier this year when residents of the Clairemont-Bay Park area objected to preliminary plans for development along the trolley line that will link Old Town and University City in the next few years.

LaCava cited that experience as an example of how not to roll out a visionary plan to the public before educating them on what the benefits might be.

He said once plans are approved, elected officials and other civic leaders need to share the concepts with the public and win their support.

“They need to stand tall and defend what they do,” he said.

Click here to download the PDF, “Are We There Yet”

Silo Takes Co-working Outdoors

BYOW_r620x349

Some early adopters were the first to show up at Silo’s first “Bring Your Own Work” Day in Makers Quarter Wednesday.

By Katherine Poythress

The event planners for Silo, the art-splashed icon of the burgeoning Makers Quarter district in San Diego’s East Village, launched a series of co-working days this week.

Makers Quarter, Moniker Group and the Downtown San Diego Partnership are hosting Bring Your Own Work Day every Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for the foreseeable future. You bring the work, food, beer and pets, and they’ll provide the (almost) vacant lot.


BYOW Day

When: Every Wednesday from 1-5 p.m.

Where: Silo in Makers Quarter, 753 15th St., San Diego.

Who: Anyone who wants to come.

What: Co-working. Bring your own food, booze, pets and work. Silo provides the workspace and games.

Price: Free.

Why: To spark more creative thinking, innovation and community gathering.


Silo is dotted with umbrella-shaded work stations featuring furniture made out of picnic tables, plastic crates, wire spools, plywood and wooden pallets inside its muraled concrete walls.

Anyone is welcome to come with their work of choice, whether it be sculpting or programming, and enjoy the free Wi-Fi, ping pong and a bean bag toss.

The hope is to bring entrepreneurial, creative and artistic types together in the same open space on a regular basis so they can collaborate and share ideas, said events manager Jen Singer.

The crowd started small on the first day, but the gathering grew the later it got. By 3:30, a dozen or so people were working and networking under the umbrellas. A couple were crafting art.

“These are the early adopters,” Singer said. She hopes they will talk about their experience and come back with friends next week.

“I was a little surprised at how small it was, but I think it’ll grow,” said Jerrod New, an entrepreneur specializing in training for what he calls “creative-preneurs,” or people with a business idea that they could make happen with a little training in creative skills.

Urban Land Institute director Mary Lydon was one of the early arrivals with her colleague, Fiona Lyons.

“We like to work wherever it’s up and coming,” said Lydon, explaining that they don’t have a permanent, fixed office space. Lyons added that part of their job is staying on top of cutting-edge development ideas such as the outdoor, art-infused co-working environment.

“We are excited to be here on the first day,” Lydon said. “There’s definitely excitement in the air.”

There is plenty of room in Silo’s creative sandbox for more, but Singer said it might take some time for the idea to catch on. After all, there’s nothing else quite like it available in San Diego.

High Five Digital Marketing co-founder Guenter Bergmann said he would likely come again, but in board shorts next time to beat the heat.

Up Close with Mary Lydon

When real estate developers get rowdy at professional association get-togethers—this is hypothetical, of course—who herds the cats? Often, it’s the association staff, like ULI San Diego/Tijuana executive director Mary Lydon.

While earning her degree in nutritional sciences at Wisconsin-Madison, Mary had no idea her training would come in handy in her present job. Given ULI’s two-year Building Healthy Places global initiative, though, it’s a perfect fit. Last week, Mary spoke at the Loma Linda University public health conference on the principles for building healthy communities. Sometimes, “You can’t predict how your career is going to intersect with your education.” (We minored in cat herding, so we understand.) She’s also principal of her own association management company, Lydon Associates, and served as a City of San Diego planning commissioner from ’09 to ’13, which gave her a deeper understanding of the entitlement process.

60524_1394651043_MaryLydonULISanDiegoMikeStepnerHere she’s at the conference with New School of Architecture+Design’s Mike Stepner. She’s been at ULI seven years, though a recent major accomplishment stands out: San Diego hosted the annual ULI Global Spring Meeting, which boasted the highest attendance (about 3,700) for a ULI Spring Meeting ever. This year’s goals include working with ULI district councils in the Southwest, including Mexico, to create a global net zero energy use conference.

60524_1394651093_MaryLydonFionaLyonsULISanDiegoMary, here chatting with ULI colleague Fiona Lyons, was born and raised in LaCrosse, Wis. and originally eyed a career in preventative health. Back then, however, there weren’t many jobs in that field, and she found the land-use arena. How do we know she’s usually ahead of the trends? In the late ’80s, she owned a cafe in Hillcrest, which had a Ranchillio Espresso machine—one of about five in all of San Diego, she says. It was pre-Starbucks, and San Diegans were “just waking up to their taste buds for cappuccinos and Viennese coffee.” In her free time, she loves to travel, overdosing on mango and coffee on her most recent trip to Kauai. Her most exotic destination, though, was to Muscat, Oman, where she spoke at an Aspen Institute conference.

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