Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons

I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate. -Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

Last year, I drove my car 1,965 miles. Yes, you did read that correctly. I drive fewer miles in one year than the average American drives in a month.

It wasn’t by accident that I landed in Downtown San Diego back in 1992.

Having lived and worked in Downtown Portland, I knew the joys of stopping on my walk to work at one of the many local bakeries to pick up a yummy, hot out of the oven pastry and steaming non-fat latte.

As I strolled home, I’d duck into an upscale farmer’s market or eatery and find dinner. I know it sounds like it, but it really wasn’t all about the eating.

It was more about the freedom of making a spur of the moment choice; something that’s not so easy to do when one’s constrained behind a steering wheel.

As I sit quietly contemplating the directions of this column, I hear soft trolley bells in the background and I can’t help but wonder why we as a city aren’t actively moving forward with a better means of circulating people around Downtown?

Buses and trolleys that traverse Downtown Portland stop every 200 feet. Even better, riding cable cars in San Francisco, one can hop on or off at a moment’s notice, giving opportunity for countless spontaneous and likely adventurous escapades.

There is a divergence of opinion from stakeholders serving on the C Street Task Force concerning the future of our Downtown trolley system.

Do we run a greater number of single car trolleys around the Downtown loop? Could this circulator operate much the same as a motor vehicle stopping at each intersection to allow passengers the ability to hop on or off? Do we add more cars to the existing trolleys creating 300’ or 400’ moving barricades block intersections (our east-west blocks are only 200’)? Or, do we vacate 7th Avenue entirely to accommodate a new trolley station?

I question…Do we design by choice or by fate?

With pen and paper in hand, I went out to survey neighbors. The conclusion was unanimous: Downtowners want a single car trolley running every few minutes around the Downtown loop.

Jeff Melemed (Pinnacle) feels the current trolley is much like riding a bus. He would like an open trolley with benches so he could jump on and off.

Joanie Santa Cruz (Watermark) occasionally takes the trolley to her Downtown office. A Downtown loop with greater frequency would give her assurance that she would arrive at work on time.

Sandy Newton (CityFront) thinks riding the trolley would be more appealing if there was a fareless zone throughout Downtown.

I agree with my neighbors. The Downtown trolley system should be designed by choice, fitting in to the present scale and traffic patterns of our existing neighborhoods. Let’s choose trolley cars that are truly noteworthy and special. The uniqueness would definitely increase ridership; this increase would far outweighing the cost of operations. -June 2007

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