By Beryl Forman
Golden Hill is a wonderful place to live, but it could always be better. Applying sustainable methods of urban design, green development, and enhancing its natural environment will certainly set a new bar for what is possible.
Golden Hill is located just above downtown San Diego, and is adjacent to the southern portion of Balboa Park. It is unfortunate that the access to either one of these locations is less than accommodating. Walking downtown entails crossing over the I-5 freeway on a large sparse bridge. Instead, I imagine this bridge becoming the welcome gateway to Golden Hill, lined with greenery, public seating, and food stands.
The Future of Alternative Transportation
Broadway is the street that connects Golden Hill to downtown. The street is beautiful because it is lined with old homes, but it is too wide. I would like it to become an expansive linear park, from 30th Street all the way down to the bay by greatly enhancing its design. The street needs to be narrowed and the sidewalk needs to be expanded with permeable landscape architecture, and resting areas/mini-parks. Broadway should also be designed for other forms of transit including bicycling and a zero-emission, historically reproduced trolley line, which has already taken off downtown, to replace the number 2 bus line. This will greatly enhance the Golden Hill’s sense of place as one of San Diego’s early neighborhoods. Lastly, I suggest Broadway become car free!
The Future of Public Recreation
As a residential stakeholder of Balboa Park, and a budding urban planner, there are several things that I would do differently. During the summer, I enjoy walking from my apartment to the Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park to enjoy free concerts. For a majority of the time, I walk along canyon trails, but at several intersections, where the dirt trail meets the main road, there are actually no legal crossings. The car traffic moves at around 40 to 50 miles per hour, and there is no regard for the pedestrian seeking to enjoy the City’s most beautiful park! The first thing I would like to do is enhance the pedestrian access and walkability for the neighborhoods of Golden Hill and South Park to the center of Balboa Park.
The other land use that I find most disturbing is the golf course, which takes up a majority of Balboa Park’s property around my neighborhood. Besides the narrow areas of open space along this fence line, there is actually very little park space for the community to enjoy. Not only is it the domineering land use, but it also surrounded by an enormous fence. To add insult to injury, I attended a neighborhood meeting many years ago and found out that there are actually two golf courses, a nine hole and an eighteen hole. This is an incriminating use of our region’s finite water supply, and public recreational land-use.
Balboa Park is a currently a hot topic within the City of San Diego, because planners and city officials are working on the park’s centennial celebration in 2015. Aside from their ideas to remove parking and return the central area of Balboa Park to a public plaza, I would like them to acknowledge that by eliminating the nine whole golf course, and opening up the park to public neighborhood use, many more people would benefit, and money and natural resources would be saved.
The Future of Accessible Local Food
Luckily in Golden Hill, there is a well established community garden within Balboa Park, but with only 25 plots, it is serving a very narrow portion of the population. The garden should be greatly expanded to include legal farm animals and a public composting area. I also would like to see an orchard of fruit trees planted within the community garden so that everyone in town knows that they can head down to the Golden Hill Park on 25th Street to pick a variety of wonderful, free fruit.
The Future of Golden Hill’s Commercial Corridor
25th Street is the commercial corridor of Golden Hill. It is a dismal four lane road. There is a narrow variety of neighborhood serving businesses, which could be nicely expanded with permanent kiosks along the sidewalk. Just like the Broadway application, this street needs to be narrowed and the sidewalk needs to be expanded with permeable landscape architecture, public seating areas, and a greatly improved transit station.
Located at the main intersection of Golden Hill, at 25th and Broadway is a car oriented strip mall. I wish for this to one day be knocked down, and replaced by a proud example of dense, mixed use, LEED certified development. Until that developer comes along, I believe that in the short-term, the parking should be relocated onto the side streets by reconfiguring the street for angled parking. Once the parking is removed, the intersection could be converted into a lovely pocket park.
Beryl Forman is the Marketing Director for the El Cajon Blvd Business Improvement District, which includes North Park and City Heights. She is currently working on her Master’s degree in City Planning at SDSU.