By Kris Michell | Downtown Partnership News
The Downtown San Diego Partnership started 2014 with a clear vision and ambitious agenda and then worked day in and day out to deliver real results for the Downtown community.
Whether it was effectively addressing homelessness, supporting our growing innovation economy, or keeping our neighborhoods clean, safe and beautiful, all of our efforts were designed to deliver on key goals in “Imagine Downtown,” our 20-year strategic plan for Downtown San Diego.
Here is just a brief recap of some of our achievements in 2014:
Homelessness: We at the Partnership know that addressing homelessness in a comprehensive and compassionate way is key to creating a thriving Downtown that allows our businesses and neighborhoods to prosper. The Downtown Partnership’s Clean & Safe Homeless Outreach Team has now reunited more than 400 homeless individuals with loved ones back home through the innovative “Work Your Way Home” program — helping more than 200 individuals in 2014 alone.
Our team also advocated for and helped managed 25 “triage” beds in conjunction with the San Diego Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team. These beds are a critical first step in assessing a homeless person’s needs and then connecting that individual with the housing and services he or she needs. So far, the program has been incredibly successful, assisting close to 130 individuals in just the first five months of the program.
We also once again partnered with Cox Communications on our “Make Change Count” fundraising drive to raise funds for our homeless programs. In the last year alone, we have been able to raise close to $100,000 to help homeless individuals on the streets in Downtown and into housing.
Economic Development: We see Downtown as an increasingly important hub in the region’s innovation economy — one that it is perfectly poised to attract the companies and talent needed to keep San Diego competitive in the global marketplace. As part of our economic development efforts, the Partnership launched a Tech Startup Committee to help craft policies and programs to benefit Downtown’s more than 80 tech companies. We also partnered with Mayor Kevin Faulconer to host a “Downtown Tech Startup Roundtable” to identify ways the City of San Diego can support Downtown’s innovation hub.
In addition, Downtown was also able to lure a slate of new companies to Downtown, from startups like Houzz.com to established companies such as Cypress Insurance, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, as well as engineering firm Kleinfelder, Bumble Bee Foods and AECOM.
Placemaking/Tactical Urbanism: We understand that to create the Downtown of tomorrow, we need to start today. That is why the Partnership worked hard in 2014 to use the tenets of placemaking, or tactical urbanism, throughout our community to activate our Downtown and start a dialogue with the community about how we can reimagine public space. These efforts included Clean & Safe’s incredibly popular tree-lighting program that lit up more than 200 trees in six different areas of Downtown as well as our “Sounds of Summer,” a pop-up concert series sponsored by Sycuan and The US Grant Hotel. The Partnership also was proud to work with HP Investors and RAD Lab to help open the new Pocket Park at 13th Avenue and J Street in East Village.
Our “Healthy Living in the City,” a Downtown wellness initiative sponsored by Scripps Health, highlighted all that our urban community has to offer with cooking classes at Jimbo’s… Naturally!, lunchtime strolls and yoga sessions in unique locations. In fact, the inaugural yoga class on the USS Midway drew more than 400 attendees on an early July morning.
Clean & Safe: And, of course, our Clean & Safe team continued to keep Downtown at its very best — even during Comic-Con when more than 130,000 people flocked to our urban community. In 2014, the Clean & Safe team also restored the Children’s Pond, worked to improve C Street with new drought-tolerant landscaping, and expanded beautification efforts by installing hanging baskets and corner planters in Cortez Hill, as well as placing corner planters in the Marina and Columbia districts.
The good news is there is even more exciting progress slated for our Downtown in 2015 with everything from the launch of a new parking app in January to an innovative circulator system that will offer free or low-cost rides in and around Downtown to better connect our urban neighborhoods. Of course, the Partnership will continue to focus on what matters most to those in our Downtown: efforts to effectively address homelessness, initiatives to grow our economy and create jobs and continuing to support the civic projects that will help transform our Downtown. I hope you will join us as we continue to work to reimagine and deliver a Downtown like no other.
—Kris Michell is the president and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, the organization that oversees the Clean & Safe program and also works toward creating a world-class Downtown. For questions or comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org.