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26 BIG Ideas

The city's leaders in health, science, politics, food, and culture share their game-changing ideas for San Diego in 2016.


(page 22 of 26)

Let’s apply our beach density to places beyond the beach.

Howard M. Blackson III, Urban Designer, Michael Baker International

“The San Francisco Bay Area’s housing disaster tells us that our housing crisis will only get worse,” warns Blackson, “and doing nothing is not an option.” He proposes modeling our neighborhoods after San Diego’s beach areas, where “mixed-use walkable urbanism” rules the scene. “Our beach density model is essentially a residence or shop with three to five units that are no more than two or three stories on each lot.” This kind of development would support public transportation and small businesses “without dramatically altering our city’s character.” It would also instill a healthy, pedestrian-friendly lifestyle, and bolster local developers. Existing urbanized areas such as Southeastern San Diego, Golden Hill, and South Park are perfect candidates, as well as Bay Park, City Heights, and neighborhoods along our major corridors like El Cajon Boulevard and University Avenue. Unfortunately, there’s a fear of change. “‘Density’ is a polarizing term that eventually turns either to demands for no new growth or to building tall towers,” Blackson says. “Our home values are a major part of our personal wealth. Therefore, we are leery of any change that may affect any of that value. That’s why using a local model makes sense—as opposed to an imported Portland or Vancouver model.”

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