Op-Ed: San Diego's Draft Downtown Mobility Plan Suffering From Suburban Myopia
The city of San Diego recently released its long-anticipated Draft Downtown Mobility Plan for comment. The plan, based on a complete streets concept, is long on generalities and suburban notions of urban tranquility but short on a detailed and practical understanding of the workings of an urban environment, writes Jimmy Parker, former Gaslamp Quarter business improvement district (BID) president and urban consultant. Parker acknowledges:
The plan clearly illustrates that they listened to the cycling community in San Diego and incorporated cycling safety ideas from around the country. They are championing more green in our urban street diet, consistent with the downtown community plan and the desire of many groups interested in downtown.
So what's wrong with the plan? Parker writes:
We all too often attempt to recreate what we value in our suburban neighborhoods without the understanding of what it takes establish and sustain these ideas, designs and initiatives in a dynamic urban setting.
For one, the plan's drafters fail to address how the proposed widened sidewalks operate, inter-relate with their adjacent uses, and need to be maintained, writes Parker. Parker also criticizes the plan for continuing to focus on traffic flow (including dedicated bicycle lanes) rather than creating a calmer and more cohesive urban environment.
Parker has several specific criticisms and recommendations borne of decades of hands-on management of the San Diego's downtown historic district and dining and entertainment destination, the Gaslamp Quarter.