PUBLISHING AN IN-DEPTH SERIES OF STORIES on San Diego's future under the title "Preserving Paradise" presumes a bit. First, it takes for granted that what we have here in our corner of the world still is paradise. And though most of us wouldn't trade cities with anyone, we find more San Diegans are less sure of that than ever before. It also presumes our readers will sit still for a three-part series on infrastructure-a subject that can cause eyes to glaze over in a whisper. This can be pretty dry stuff. Until any piece of the infrastructure crumbles before us-as happened in the crush of postholiday shopping in January when a key access road to Fashion Valley mall collapsed, along with a section of the city's miles and miles of neglected and rusting drainpipe system. Or until a tanker truck overturns on Interstate 15, as one did last summer near Miramar, spilling toxic chemicals and setting off a chain reaction causing 15 hours of gridlock that spread to virtually all of the region's major freeways.
A year before either of these scenes played out, San Diego Magazine began work on a publishing project that will, over the next three months, give readers a hard look at some tough choices citizens of this region face in the next quarter-century. Some 30 stories, edited and written by a team of more than a dozen journalists, will analyze our current infrastructure status and attempt to predict where we'll be in 25 years-with or without drastic action.
The stories will focus on streets and freeways; mass transit; housing needs and costs; water quality and availability; and energy concerns. Everything from sidewalks to sewers, potholes to airports. We'll also take a close look at the politicians, power brokers and key players who control the fate of a future San Diego.To launch the series, veteran newspaperman Neil Morgan, the dean of local jour- nalists, returns to print with a powerful perspective on San Diego's scandalous economic crisis-and what it will take in citizen sacrifice and political skill to rebuild our cultural and economic foundations.
Also in Part 1, series co-editor Margie Farnsworth examines San Diego's changing demographics. Eilene Zimmerman looks at the checkered history of urban planning. Reporter Jamie Reno finds out just what San Diegans think about where they live today. Business editor Larry Edwards goes inside SANDAG, the county's regional transportation authority and oft-criticized planning agency. Thomas K. Arnold goes to Carlsbad, to look at one of the region's better examples of solid city planning. And Kate Lyon tells a tale of two demographically disparate communities with something in common: Paradise Hills and Rancho Bernardo.
In future installments, the writing team will be joined by veteran TV and print reporter Cathy Clark, SEDC corporate communications director Marc Randolph and city planning expert Mike Stepner.
San Diego's Public Broadcasting affiliate, KPBS, is cooperating with San Diego Magazine on aspects of the series, including polling information on San Diegans' views of the region now and our hopes for the future. Ron Donoho analyzes the polling, conducted by Competitive Edge, in a story this month called "More Love than Hate." Preserving Paradise is made possible through the generosity of underwriters Sempra Energy, Barney & Barney brokerage, San Diego County Credit Union, Torrey Pines Bank, the law firm of Koeller, Nebeker, Carlson & Haluck and the Building Industry Association of San Diego County.