Progress Slow For San Diego's 'City of Villages' Plan

<p>The city's lauded framework plan for implementing smart growth practices has failed to deliver on its promises, say some residents and experts.</p>
September 18, 2007, 11am PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"...Five years after the city adopted the framework, and three-and-a-half years after the pilot villages were designated, the once-touted City of Villages campaign has lost some of its luster. With just a fraction of the support that was promised for needs like sidewalks and sewers actually coming in, some community planners wonder if the framework was ever rooted in reality."

""In February 2004, the City Council voted to designate five pilot villages in San Ysidro, North Park, City Heights, the College Area and southeast San Diego. The city's Planning Department projected it would take three to five years to build every village except North Park, which was expected to take five to 10 years. A pledge for a sort of fast-track system through the permitting process was promised, as was a pledge of prioritizing infrastructure improvements in the pilot villages."

"Turnover among city staff has nearly bankrupted the program of institutional memory, contributing to an unfocused implementation of the proposals. And many of the resources the City of Villages planners promised the pilot villages originally have now come under the scrutiny applied to all budgets in light of the city's financial woes."

"There's just not a heck of a lot the city's doing, as far as I can tell," said Bob Forsythe, a former county planner who's helped plan the pilot village in City Heights.

Mike Stepner, a former planner with the city of San Diego and professor at the New School of Architecture, said the concept has met mixed success."

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Published on Monday, September 17, 2007 in Voice of San Diego
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