Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons

A community has to have the capacity to envision a future they want, and not just the one they are likely to get. – Unknown

What will our city look like in the immediate and long range future? As I’ve written before, I knew Downtown was special the moment I arrived eleven years ago; I could envision its potential.

I grew up in Bay City, a small coastal town just north of Tillamook, Oregon. Bay City’s natural barriers create city boundaries, just like San Diego with the Bay to the south and west, mountains and freeway (respectively) to north and east. Bay City spreads 1440 acres, Downtown 1445. This is where the similarities between Bay City and San Diego end.

During the 1960’s, there were 800 people in Bay City, even now there are only 1200, whereas Downtown San Diego is on a fast track for growth.

“ Where are they coming from?” is frequently wondered. Our secret has been revealed: they are moving from cities far and near, each corner of the country, as well as local San Diegans. They all come for the same reason we moved Downtown: this is truly paradise.

A group of 34 Downtown stakeholders are updating Downtown’s 1992 community plan. They’re working to establish and attain an overall vision for business, employment, visitors and residential growth.

Three plans were recently presented for public comment. The first alternative presented a high concentration of office development within a mile radius, similar to successful financial districts in major US cities, and maximum residential projects in neighborhood commercial clusters. The second proposal would create two multi-use cores with mixed residential and office developments and lower density in neighborhoods. The third option focuses on a new destination for visitors along the waterfront and less residential intensification in neighborhoods.

I attended several meetings where all agreed none of these plans in their totality are ideal; instead, a final plan should encompass each alternative’s best elements. On July 11 the Steering Committee will discuss the preliminary preferred plan.

All meetings are open to all; public comment is welcomed. For more information go to www.ccdc.com/planupdate

Time is moving quickly for Downtown. There are 80 projects in various phases of approval or construction. It’s important to finalize the community plan update before all the parcels are built. How fast can this process be completed? Is waiting until June of 2004 for final City Council approval too late?

I muse…Can time truly be stopped?

These residents are participating in the community plan update process: Elaine & Peter Rodman (Horizons), Tom Angelwicz, (Horizons), Gordon & Joyce Summer (Discovery), Brett Farrow (Waterfront), Paul Robinson (Meridian), Mitch Cushman (Columbia Place), Christine Gaunt (CityFront Terrace), Gary Smith (Park Row), Stan Marder (Horizons), Larry Marshall (Park Place), Gilda Servetter (Park Row), Patricia & Marvin Spira (Renaissance).

I will be exploring several relevant issues with my neighbors over the next few columns, ranging from transportation, waterfront development, amenities, land use for business and housing to overall urban design and open space. - June 5, 2003

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