Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons

Location, location, location.

At a time when tanned skin marked worker status, our waterfronts were purely industrial and commercial; now, waterfronts everywhere are being reclaimed and revitalized, becoming accessible for leisure and relaxation.

Waterfronts are expansive blue bodies of ever changing vistas whose movement, texture and openness calm and invigorate.

Because they’re finite spaces, waterfronts are coveted property. Everybody wants a piece of this scenic delight, to create landmark buildings with unobtrusive views and reap enormous profits; or, to commercialize it with tourist attractions.

Ask most Downtowners; you’ll see they want a lower structure along the waterfront, not a wall between Downtown and the bay. We’d like a place to watch the sunset, stroll on a weekend morning, or to have a family picnic, watch fireworks and summer concerts. A playground for children and those of us who want to feel like children. A place to go where life is slow, moments away from the high-energy business environs.

Our tidelands are protected through the California Coastal Act. The Port of San Diego under the California Coastal Commission is our steward of public resources.

The Act directs the Commission to protect and expand public shoreline access, recreational opportunities, and coastal views. Our Port added, “to balance regional economic benefits” to their mission.

How can a convention center allowing only ticketed admittance be considered public property? Or a marina with gated docks accessible only by key?

Is a hotel public if it’s built for the private use of paying guests who only spend a few sleeping hours there? Or businesses leasing space in a high-rise office complex for workdays? Or premier condominiums surrounded by “exclusive use” common areas ignored by busy residents out at work all day?

How can these spaces be considered public when they’re only used for short amounts of time by the limited few actually allowed access?

I weigh the question...When is public land no longer public?

Residents are addressing the current hot topic of our Downtown waterfront.

“ Our waterfront must uniquely reflect the commitment to the City of Villages concept to be enjoyed by both tourists and residents.” - Griff Lindell (City Walk)

“… a performing arts theatre, opaque glass buildings to bring the outdoors in, cascading fountains and more grassy knolls for the whole community to come together.” Sarah Maxwell (Treo@Kettner)

" Hi -rises along North Embarcadero would fly in the face of the low-rise restrictions in Little Italy and wall out harbor views.” - Ray Kau (Village Walk)

“… low rise dynamic architectural buildings with meandering green belt parks throughout.” - Nancy Caine (Brickyard)

“ A colorful Mediterranean-style waterfront farmer's market with everything from fresh fish to fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers.” - Mikael Havluciyan (Treo@Kettner)

Our front porch is where we’d meet guests, friends and family, where we would sit and watch the world go by. Let’s create a ribbon of urban trails, shaded walkways and bayside promenades connecting the city to the water; a place to meet our neighbors. - June 19, 2003

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