California Lawmakers Seek Local Oversight of Downtown Planning

construction worker and he family at downtown construction site

Murtaza H. Baxamusa, Ph.D., AICP / San Diego UrbDeZine

“Downtown is for people” wrote legendary urban planner Jane Jacobs in 1958, in response to building-centric redevelopment that was a byproduct of politics and economics seeking to rebuild cities across America. During her lifetime, she advocated for citizens to decide what end results they wanted, pioneering concepts like “social capital,” and advocating for planners to steer the rebuilding machinery to serve the community.

Yet, even today, downtown San Diego is being built as a collection of projects, with an approval process that consistently favors developers. Today, the large-block redevelopment is back in full force. The older, affordable housing stock is being demolished, and replaced with luxury high-rises. Economic development agreements are benefiting projects that do not pay living wages to the workforce. And taxpayers across the city are subsiding the mitigation of environmental impacts of downtown projects.   [Read more…]

Iconic Vision or Elitist Tunnel Vision? The Future of Downtown’s East Village Green


By Jeeni Criscenzo

Who could possibly be against a park? A bit of open space to take a stroll; rest on a bench and breathe in the fresh air; enjoy the peace and quiet… Maybe that’s what most of us think of when we think of a park, but that’s not what developers see. Last night, at the third “workshop” for the East Village Green, we were treated to what one lady exclaimed as an iconic vision and what I thought was a perfect example of elitist tunnel vision.

The East Village Green would be a 4.1 acre wonderland between 13th St and 15th St. and F and G Street in East Village. It has been promised to the people of the neighborhood for almost 10 years–about the same time a poor family will have to wait to get Section 8 housing.   [Read more…]

Civic San Diego and the One Minute Citizen

Notes from the March 18 Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee

By Anna Daniels

At 4:45 pm on March 18, Marti Emerald, City Councilmember and Chair of the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee (PS&LN) announced that there were still 62 speaker slips remaining on the topic of community benefits. The agenda item with the most speakers had been switched to the last one that would be heard that day. Emerald courteously asked the citizens remaining in the room to limit their testimony to one minute and to please not repeat what had already been said. The committee would lose its quorum at 5:30.

Why had so many people shown up at 1:30 earlier that day, packing the committee room and overflowing into an adjacent room? Why were they willing to wait three hours to provide one minute of public testimony about Civic San Diego (CivicSD), the public non-profit development agency owned by the City of San Diego?   [Read more…]

San Diego Sues Monsanto for Polluting Bay With Banned Carcinogenic Chemicals

Lawsuit says toxins manufactured by agrochemical giant ‘have been found in Bay sediments and water and have been identified in tissues of fish, lobsters, and other marine life’

By Sarah Lazarre / Common Dreams

San Diego authorities filed a lawsuit on Monday (March 16) against the agrochemical giant Monsanto, accusing the corporation of polluting the city’s bay with carcinogenic chemicals that are so dangerous to human health they were banned in the U.S. more than 30 years ago.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by City of San Diego and San Diego Unified Port District and focuses on Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). “PCBs manufactured by Monsanto have been found in bay sediments and water and have been identified in tissues of fish, lobsters, and other marine life in the Bay,” the complaint reads.   [Read more…]

The Morphing of Civic San Diego and the Need for City Council Oversight

Preparing for the March 18 Public Safety and Livable Neighborhood Committee meeting

By Anna Daniels

This past October, Reese Jarrett, newly hired President of Civic San Diego (CivicSD), appeared before the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhood Committee of the San Diego City Council. The committee chairwoman, District 9 council member Marti Emerald, directed a number of pointed questions toward CivicSD staff, followed by additional questions from District 4 council member Myrtle Cole.

Councilmember Emerald provided a brief description of CivicSD as a city owned non-profit established in June of 2012 to continue the city’s economic revitalization efforts. CivicSD already had a contract with the city, the redevelopment Successor Agency, to handle the administrative duties associated with the winding down of redevelopment projects.

Now there were updated CivicSD bylaws and another contract with the city which transferred the ongoing functions of CCDC and SEDC to CivicSD. Those same bylaws also broadened the scope of CivicSD activities and guaranteed its ongoing existence as the city’s development mechanism. Yet there was little fanfare or public discussion about how economic development and revitalization efforts should continue in the city after the end of redevelopment.   [Read more…]

Why Downtown San Diego Pedestrians Stop for Cars More Than Any Other City and What to do About it

San Diego is lucky to have some of the country’s best planning minds.  The trick is getting their input implemented.

By Bill Adams /

San Diego’s downtown street grid and its small blocks make continuous walking difficult, especially for people trying to go in a straight line. Jogging is even more difficult. The blocks are 200 by 300 feet. Among major cities, only Portland has smaller blocks at 200 by 200 feet.

So depending on walking direction, pedestrians generally must stop every 200 or 300 feet to wait for traffic.

While this may not be troublesome for people on vacation or on a day-off, for residents and downtown workers who use their feet for more utilitarian purposes, it is an impediment not experienced in many other cities nor even in the suburbs.   [Read more…]

The New Main Library: A Benefit for All

Richard Rider, a local libertarian, called the new library “a monument to an era that is ending — a structure that in a few years will have little more utility value than a Pharaoh’s pyramid in Egypt. The only difference is that the library will have high operating costs — the pyramids need no such annual funding.”
UT San Diego article “New library: Is this monument necessary?”

By Joe Flynn

Odd isn’t it? The self professed “cheerleaders” for San Diego preview the grand opening of the new library with this article puffed up with a quote from San Diego’s Dr. No, Richard Rider, libertarian. I wanted to get the spelling right, but after reading his remarks no one will mistake him for a librarian.   [Read more…]

The Pawns Line Up in San Diego’s Mayoral Race

“The U-T wants only what is best for San Diego” – quote from editorial warning Carl DeMaio to obey publisher Doug Manchester’s wishes

By Doug Porter

It was a day to remember in San Diego’s political history.  Three high-profile politicians opted to decline the opportunity to enter the contest for the top spot in the eighth largest city in the United States.  That’s like three customers going into a Starbucks paying for a latte with a hundred dollar bill and saying “keep the change”…or a camel passing through the eye of a needle.

Carl DeMaio did a stellar job of playing the media as to his intentions. “According to a source with direct knowledge of his plans” DC’s Politico and other media outlets ran with the story saying the former city councilman had decided to drop his candidacy for Congress to run for Mayor. He posted a photo on social media with supporters holding campaign signs for both Congress and Mayor.

The 11am press conference on San Diego’s harbor featured a podium sign strongly suggesting DeMaio was in it to win it for the mayor’s seat. One reporter even pre-typed a Tweet to that effect and ‘accidentally’ hit ‘send’ as DeMaio’s speech meandered across the political landscape. It was clear the former councilman was enjoying playing the press and his “special interest” opponents.   [Read more…]

Wendy McDonald Can Barely Afford a Burger King

By Bob Dorn

Debby, or Debra, Flores is 20 and has a 2-year-old daughter. She works at Wendy’s downtown, First and Broadway from 11 am to 3 p.m. only four days a week, which means she’s part-time and enjoys no company benefits. She makes $8 per hour from the Wendy’s she’s part of. So, during the week at Wendy’s she’s making $32 a day, taking home $128.00 per week, less taxes.

She pays taxes because she has ANOTHER job at a hookah lounge delivering food and tobacco starting at 7 pm and continuing through the night to 6 am.

Think of it. This slight, lean young girl human on a typical day of the week puts in 15 hours of work a day, commutes to her mother’s home and spends just about 3 hours a day with her child, starting at 3 pm. Sometimes, on a good day, she grabs maybe five hours of sleep, if she can sleep.   [Read more…]

Filner Supporters Hold Rally and Press Conference Calling for Due Process

By Frank Gormlie / OBRag

About a hundred supporters of besieged Mayor Filner held a brief rally and march in the Civic Center Plaza Monday, followed by a press conference.

Most of the speakers were women or were people of color – and most criticized the trial in the press of the mayor that is going on in San Diego’s mainstream media.

Other speakers talked of Filner’s history and record in the civil rights movement, that this was a time of healing and patience.
  [Read more…]

The Dark Lord Rises: Carl DeMaio’s ‘I’m not Running for Mayor’ Media Blitz

By Doug Porter

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner remains in office after more than a month of non-stop accusations. A recall movement claims to be building up a head of steam. Calls for his resignation are being reported daily. Those who haven’t joined in the mania are being shamed both in the mainstream and social media. There’s even a protest march slated for Sunday.

What’s not being reported is anything current about hizzoner. Bob Filner -the man- hasn’t been seen in over two weeks. And while his minions are going through the motions of defending him and proclaiming everything is okie-dokie at City Hall, his absence speaks more loudly than any press release.

A news vacuum always needs to filled, and Carl DeMaio has stepped up to the plate this week with a media blitz, hoping to take advantage.  He’s been featured at Roll CallYahoo News10News, KOGO radio and The Hill.  Coincidence? I don’t think so.   [Read more…]

Pershing Drive Bicycling: Let’s Make It Safe

By John P. Anderson

Pershing Drive is one of the best examples in urban San Diego of what well planned and executed bicycle infrastructure can be.  The road has few stops (basically just one, at Florida Drive), goes through an enjoyable area of Balboa Park with many nice views, and has full-width bicycle lanes on both sides of the road.

Additionally, Pershing connects North Park and other neighborhoods like City Heights and Normal Heights with Downtown – an ideal route for those commuting to work Downtown or headed there for entertainment or other purposes.  It is also a great example of how an ideal situation can be squandered.   [Read more…]

Seen Around Town: Horton Plaza Demolition and Yarn Bomb in South Park

By A Guy with a Cell Phone

Horton Plaza is falling down! Actually, the old Robinson/Planet Hollywood section of Horton Plaza facing Broadway is being bulldozed to accommodate a new public park. According to Civic San Diego, “Westfield will demolish the former Robinson’s May building and convey the land at the proposed plaza valued at $25.8 million in exchange for being relieved of profit-sharing payments through 2035.” In case you haven’t noticed, there is no longer free three hour parking.   [Read more…]

The Starting Line – Downtown Tourism Showdown: Today’s Council Hearing is the Start of the Dump Filner Campaign

Nothing will be decided at today’s hearing before the San Diego City Council (2pm) about the Tourism Marketing District funding. And that’s somehow appropriate; given that the whole battle over Mayor Bob Filner’s refusal to sign off on authorization of a 39 year deal is really nothing more than a proxy battle for a much bigger conflict.

At the bottom of all this is the inability of the city’s ‘downtown crowd’ to live with last fall’s election of Filner, who’s proven true to his word thus far about not continuing to do business as usual in San Diego.

INSIDE: Today’s Battle at City Hall, Majority of Hoteliers Voted Against 2% Fee, Right Wing Heads Explode as Michelle Obama Appears on Oscars   [Read more…]

The Starting Line – The Battle for America’s Youth: Guns, God and High Stakes Testing

“Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a Bushmaster AR-15 under your tree some frosty Christmas morning!”

The New York Times kicked off a series of investigative articles yesterday examining the gun industry’s influence and the wide availability of firearms in America.  First up in the investigation: a look at industry/NRA marketing aimed at young people.

Threatened by long-term declining participation in shooting sports, the firearms industry has poured millions of dollars into a broad campaign to ensure its future by getting guns into the hands of more, and younger, children.

The industry’s strategies include giving firearms, ammunition and cash to youth groups; weakening state restrictions on hunting by young children; marketing an affordable military-style rifle for “junior shooters” and sponsoring semiautomatic-handgun competitions for youths; and developing a target-shooting video game that promotes brand-name weapons, with links to the Web sites of their makers.

Inside: Guns Get Religion, Filner Gets Spun, McCain Flips (or is it flops?)   [Read more…]

The Starting Line – Looking Back on When San Diego Said ‘No’ to Honoring Martin Luther King

The year was 1986, and San Diego, like much of the nation, was swept up in a national discussion about a new holiday commemorating MLK’s contribution to US history. Legislation (signed three years earlier) making Dr. King’s birthday a national holiday was going into effect, and many cities around the country were honoring the slain civil rights leader by naming streets and buildings after him.

It seemed like a no-brainer for the San Diego City Council, then led by Mayor Maureen O’Connor. After some deliberation they announced that Market Street would be renamed Martin Luther King Way.

The reaction of merchants along Market Street, spurred on by developers eyeing redevelopment possibilities, was strongly negative. Claiming that they’d been excluded from the decision making process, they organized the Keep Market Street Initiative Committee and delivered nearly eighty thousand signatures to the city clerk, a move that put the question, eventually known as Proposition F, on the November ballot.

Black community leaders felt that the impetus behind the campaign was racism, pure and simple.
  [Read more…]

The Starting Line – Will the NRA Advocate Bringing Along Your Weapons While Christmas Shopping?

The news this morning is dominated by stories about a man in Oregon who wandered into a shopping mall dressed in camouflage and starting firing off rounds, killing two shoppers. Eventually, police told the news media, he was ‘neutralized’, which turns out to be policespeak for ‘he killed himself.’

Enough already, I say. There isn’t much we can do about that young man’s mental illness in retrospect, but there is plenty that can be done about the people enabling unfettered access to firearms. I say its time we scare those cockroaches out from under their rocks and take a close look at the damage they’ve wrought on our society.

Mind you, this little rant is not about gun control. That’s a subject that requires a little more nuanced conversation, one that’s impossible as long as people tolerate the pinheads that make up the leadership of the NRA.

I’m talking about the simply outrageous crap that gets passed off in the name of defending our “Second Amendment Rights”. While the tinfoil set has been stockpiling ammunition and sending mass emails to AOL accounts about the Obama administration’s plans to enforce a mythical United Nations mandate that will take everybody’s guns away, the gun lobby has been busy making sure that there are no reasonable (or discussions about) restrictions on firearms.   [Read more…]

Local Labor Stands Up for the Safety Net, Keeps Pressure on ‘Friendly’ Congresspeople

By Nadin Abbott

The Central Labor Council called for a candle light vigil in front of Senator Diane Feinstein’s (D) office at 750 B Street Monday evening.  This action was part of a national call to arms; there were about one hundred of them today nationwide called by the AFL-CIO.

Why is this labor action significant? With the attacks on labor across the nation, including the about to pass Right to Work (for less) legislation in Michigan, and the attacks by Governor Walker in Wisconsin last year, it seems labor is waking up. Labor is fighting back in a way like it has not done for two generations.   [Read more…]

Our Readers Write: Earthquakes, Faults, and Misguided Development in San Diego

by Eleanora Robbins (La Mesa)

Italy isn’t the only place making dumb decisions over earthquake prediction. Here in San Diego, never-ending broken utility lines and stinky sewers are occurring because our local and state government officials have suspended their responsibility for oversight of development on known and suspected faults downtown.

Surprisingly, the City and Port of San Diego actually funded studies of downtown faults but refuse to release them. The reason? They probably don’t want to turn down potential development money and the resulting property taxes. Even non-geologists can see the cracks in the asphalt and cement adjacent to the Navy Broadway Complex and Tailgate Park. Geologists like myself see that the cracks have a distinctive pattern, thereby displaying the traces of some of these unmapped faults.
  [Read more…]

The Starting Line – The Sordid Saga of Judicial Candidate Jim Miller, Jr.

San Diego’s legal establishment is rolling out the big guns today at a noon press conference on the sidewalk in front of the Superior Court building downtown. They’re gathering a gaggle of retired judges, prominent attorneys and past heads of the local Bar Association to make sure that the public is aware that judicial candidate Jim Miller, Jr. has been rated as “Lacking qualifications” in the race for Office 25 of the San Diego Superior Court.

  [Read more…]

The Starting Line—‘Someone Could Go to Jail for This’; Newspaper CEO Denies Threatening Email to San Diego Port Commissioner

The scandal surrounding heavy handed tactics by San Diego businessmen backing a football stadium proposal continued to spread yesterday as Port Commissioner Scott Peters released what appears to be a threatening email from UT-San Diego CEO John Lynch.

The August 9th email from Lynch, asks Peters about his stance on a proposed long term lease at the 10Th Avenue Marine Terminal, and warns of a campaign led by San Diego’s daily newspaper to disband the Port Authority should backers of the proposed stadium not approve of his vote. The UT-San Diego, owned by downtown developer Doug Manchester and operated by John Lynch, has made construction of a football stadium at the port site one of its top editorial priorities.   [Read more…]

Reader’s Response: Living Artists, Zombie Redevelopment, Community Pushback

Editor: This is a Reader’s Response to Jim Bliesner’s article, “Whatever Happened to Downtown Artists? The Experiences of Three Creative Souls Who Survived .

By Remigia Bermúdez

I take my hat off to Jim Bliesner for all that he has done and continues to do for humanity, including but not limited to, the Arts (locally and globally), job creation, non-profits creation, financial institutions’ re-investments into our communities, higher level educational institutions and a host of other avaunt-guard ideas and ideologies that enhance our livelihoods in the San Diego-Baja California transnational region.   [Read more…]