Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons

It is not length of life, but depth of life. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here Emerson explains that quality holds a greater value than quantity.

Our pace of growth and change Downtown is overwhelming, without a doubt lengthening the life of Downtown as a viable residential community, but is the quality of life increasing as well?

Each month, parcels of land transition into construction for new residential complexes, hotels, and office buildings. New businesses are opening their doors Downtown, though not yet in great numbers.

Recently, the media spotlight has been cast not only on Downtown’s burgeoning residential population, but also on our community gaining a reputation for weekend events and festivals. One neighborhood is highlighted as the place for young adults to go “clubbing;” another for our newest attraction, baseball.

Additionally, our sparkling waterfront is quickly becoming a “themed” place for tourists. With the newest attraction, Midway, recently docked next to Navy Pier and the potential of the Old Police Station historical site being turned into another tourist venue, tourists will be able to spend the entire day and then some.

These attractions bringing people Downtown, but at what cost?

The attractions’ employees are unable to live here, so they must commute into our community.

Tourist attractions bring with them tourist food, tourist goods, tourist service and tourist prices, in other words, inflation and exploitation.

When a neighborhood is largely made up of tourist attractions, there is no community ownership or pride. The attractions bring traffic, congestion, drunkenness, crime and rubbish, increasing the duties of already overstretched police and fire support. The invasion of the tourist lifestyle makes it impossible for residents to accomplish daily routines and activities.

Do we want Downtown to be branded as one big tourist attraction? Or, do we want to be known as a world class city filled with commerce, WiFi hotspots, renowned museums, fine dining, quality entertainment, tasteful community festivals, safe streets, and quaint neighborhoods; the role model of Smart Growth? Do we want our visitors to go away with an authentic city experience? Or, a visit to San Francisco’s Embarcadero?

I worry…Are we losing the quality in our quality of life?

"While San Diego's done a good job of getting people Downtown to live, government agencies need to start approaching this area as a residential community, too. There's no reason we can't offer visitors AND residents exactly the experiences they expect to find." Jim Abbott, Meridian

"I like living in the middle of all the activities and excitement. I am concerned about the increase in traffic, congestion and shortage of street parking." Judy Speaks, 600 Front Apartments

"Residents must stay on top of livability issues to maintain an appropriate balance. It’s human not to get involved until something goes wrong. Then, it’s too late." Wayne Metlitz, Parkloft

Tourism should be just one element of our community, accepted only when it doesn’t deter from the quality of life for those of us who live here.- February 2004

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