The resurrection of Downtown
[Ref: “Sparring Proposals,” Vol. 17, Issue 5 or online at tinyurl.com/hne9h5e.]
I don’t want to and I won’t read any more editorials after this one about the Chargers proposed stadium Downtown and why it is good or bad for San Diego.
I first came to San Diego to live in July 1982 with my little family of three. How many people did I know in San Diego? That would be zero.
Look up the word entrepreneur in the dictionary. The moron who loves working for himself and only himself, not taking orders ever from anyone and flies through the air of life without a safety net and you very well might find a picture of moi. So much for the self-serving bio.
My first week here was Tony Gwynn’s first-ever game as a San Diego Padre. That was 34 years ago this July.
What was Downtown like then? What Downtown? There was nothing! Nothing but stores in the process of closing, drunks and prostitutes. It was like there was a sign on the still functioning iconic San Diego Hardware building on Fifth Avenue that said: STAY AWAY!
And most of us did just that. You came to San Diego in 1982 and you stayed somewhere on Hotel Circle. That was Downtown San Diego 34 years ago.
The US Grant Hotel, built in honor of our 18th president by his entrepreneurial son in 1910, was on life support and months away from the wrecking ball. Today it is like a treasure chest taking you back to 1910 like stepping on the Titanic would take you back to April 1912 seconds before disaster.
So what changed?
Three things happened to change life as we know it in paradise. For those of you who don’t comprehend my use of the word “paradise,” it is one of the words I use to describe San Diego. Another is Goldilocks and now you know the origin of my passion for my adopted hometown.
The three history-changing stories? Horton Plaza 1985; Gaslamp Restoration 1990s; Petco Park 2004.
The naysayers can get on their soapbox and rant. The fact is that the Chargers stadium Downtown, with or without a Convention Center connection, will brighten the diamond of this city even more. Anyone who fights this stadium just doesn’t get it.
I have watched this city grow from my perch across from Cowles Mountain. I saw a city expand block-by-block, restaurant-by-restaurant, and club-by-club.
And I heard the noise — build a stadium? What we need is a library!
And they were right! For I am a bibliophile and my visits to the E Street facility (built in 1954) were visits to a very strange place. Not a place for the faint of heart or small children for that matter. And our run of mayors during those years was like trading mug shots. If they weren’t indicted, the hint of impropriety or flat out incompetence or both tainted one administration after another.
Building Petco (voters had approved the project in 1998) was like surviving the 100 Years War but one day we woke up to another glorious day in heaven (still another great word) and guess what? We had a new gleaming baseball stadium and a $200 million glass tower library as well. And lofts and businesses were and are still to this day being constructed at a dizzying pace.
Petco completed the treasure chest that today is known as Gaslamp.
When you mention to visitors that 30-plus years ago this was a wasteland, they look at you like you need a designated driver — now!
Adding a dazzling billion dollar football stadium to the mix and attracting events like the Super Bowl — who will be fighting their footballs off to show off their annual event every February — well let me slip into a little New York lingo for you … fahgetabboudit!
—Steve Tarde, via email
Historic Horton Plaza Park returns
[Ref: “Preservation Matters: Saving Horton Plaza Park,” Vol. 17, Issue 3, or online at tinyurl.com/jlxvyf6]
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!
—Jan Barnes, via sandiegodowntownnews.com
I’m delighted that we’ll be getting that plaza back!
—Irma Jones, via sandiegodowntownnews.com
I’m delighted they tore down that BLOCK of a building, with the turnover occupants, which dwarfed the park into obscurity. Now we have a clear view, — almost a vista — to Balboa Theatre. I was against Westfield’s Horton Plaza, for many historical reasons. Well karma to them! Too bad for the loss of all those little single-screen theaters that faced the park … ah well, hey that’s progress, right?
A side note of trivia: Last May (?) in the Union Tribune, covering V-E Day, they carried a photo of a sailor being dunked into unknown fountain. Nay … it was quite easy to know … see it was this very same fountain, of Horton Plaza Park.
—Mitch K, via via sandiegodowntownnews.com
[Ref: A path toward mixed reaction,” Vol. 17, Issue 4, or online at tinyurl.com/zzaahqq]
In your Downtown Mobility Plan article, Little Italy resident Anne Eichmann said the plan needs “more of a sense of synergy.” If I understand correctly, the plan removes no existing street parking in Little Italy — it only decreases the number of planned angled/head-in parking conversions from 135 to 85. Residents and visitors will be able to safely reach neighborhood businesses by bike, while drivers will enjoy increased street parking (not to mention a new 640 space parking garage). That is synergy. Removing all of the planned protected bike lanes from the core of Little Italy, as Ms. Eichmann is advocating, is not synergy.
The Little Italy Association (LIA) also opposes any reduction in the number of future street parking conversions. Yet LIA removes dozens of existing street parking spaces every Saturday for its farmers market.
At the Downtown Community Planning Committee meeting, a Little Italy business owner said the Plan would “destroy our community.” Considering that Little Italy is thriving now, how would adding 85 street parking spaces, plus safe bicyclist access to businesses, destroy it?
—Paul Jamason, via sandiegodowntownnews.com
In response to Paul Jamason
You don’t understand correctly, but that’s no fault of yours because the facts are being obscured by the private, paid consultants who stand to gain by the passage of the Downtown Mobility Plan (DMP).
First to clear up the easiest misconception, the 640 space-parking garage was built to accommodate county employees. It is only open to the public from 5 – 11 p.m. and no vehicles may be parked there overnight. The cost to park in the structure during those six hours is $10. No overnight parking is permitted. It is simply not a viable option for [Little Italy] residents, employees, customers, or visitors to park.
Second, the installation of physical bike lanes, as advocated by this plan, will remove about 50 parking spaces from Beech, Ash and State streets, or Kettner Boulevard. Essentially, the Plan will remove all parking on one side of whatever streets would receive physical bike lanes.
The unknown element is that while the DMP original draft called for the installation of a bike lane on State Street, the board of Civic San Diego unilaterally placed that lane on Kettner Boulevard without notice or review. Either way, this is a *net loss* to existing parking.
Additionally, the installation of a physical bike lane will prohibit the planned angled parked on any street with the new lane. This means the planned and approved parking gains would not happen; 85 spaces may be gained from conversion on streets without the lane, but an additional 50 spaces will never happen.
This is also before we account for the planned parking losses on both sides of both Grape and Hawthorne streets to accommodate additional airport traffic.
Hope this helps.
—Christopher Morgan, via our website