Thursday, February 28, 2008

The gods of streets renaissance blogging are a little closer to San Diego

Welcome, Streetsblog LA. (Thanks to carfreeusa)

So how can we get someone in San Diego to write about planning for: streets as public places, carfree living, carfree transit, and proximity all the time like Streetsblog (NYC) and Damien Newton (LA)?

Here's the links for background on Damien and the LA Streetsblog:

Streets are more than just car corridors; they are valuable civic spaces, resources, which must be wisely allocated. The New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign is building the movement to re-imagine our streets as lively public places.

[no mention of "carfree" of course--so I've probably already spoiled this venue. The strategy seems to be: encourage people to re-imagine, re-design, while advocating & providing data for reducing car use and leave it at that.]

If anyone from WALKSanDiego or SDCBC wants to give this a shot, the SD/TJ Design, Plant, Harvest blog was meant to be a demo space for this kind of discourse, if not the actual thing.

Here's a proposal: that someone (WALKSD?) start a pedestrian advocacy email list allowing discussion of streets and an announcement of the kind of walking tours / audits / re-designs that it does.

Eventually, we can combine the efforts of WALKSD, SDCBC, and other groups such as SD Food Not Lawns which seek to transform our public spaces to be more life-enhancing, and come up with complete street redesigns and reconstructions. We can tear up the middle of vastly overpaved streets such as Streamview Dr (just one example of many), plant orchards and gardens, bike lanes, crosswalks, water-harvesting curb cuts, traffic-calming curb-extensions, and so on.

Does that sound like fun? We could continue this conversation at sdtjdph. SDCityRepair is another possibility-- I'd love it if someone with a bit more savvy and leadership experience would take this up.

We'll figure this out eventually!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Videos, Photos, & Links tagged 'sdtjdph'

Videos | Photos | Links

Links tagged 'for:sdtjdph' at

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Videos in the sdtjdph group at YouTube
It's not perfect--not all of the videos in the group are displayed below. You can also tag the videos you upload with 'sdtjdph'. Wait 12+ hours for newly-tagged videos to appear in the search results and

Photos tagged 'sdtjdph' at Picasa

Just exploring what is possible!

We can probably merge feeds from multiple sources--which content-sharing sites do you like best?

If you start tagging things so they show up here, add other tags too--such as 'sdfoodnotlawns' or a tag unique to your organization--so we can sort things out later.

If you have a whole album of photos related to an event, consider tagging only one 'sdtjdph', and caption it with the name of the event.

This post was inspired by Streetsblog.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Allow me to introduce myself...

I am a Landscape Architect with varied interests that include effective transit, design of all sorts, environmental issues, livable communities and green living to name a few (my profile). About 9 months ago I began a blog which chronicled my attempt at going without a car in San Diego (my blog) and Colin Leath happened to come across this back in December. Colin is part of a carfree yahoo group which I have since joined and frequently post to.

One of the most significant topics that I intend to blog about is public transit and mobility in the region. Effective public transit is something I am passionate about as it goes hand in hand with lower carbon footprints, freedom from big oil, financial freedom, cultural interaction and freedom of mobility.

Here in San Diego we have some good things working for us but we really are behind the curve when it comes to public transit and land use planning. A city with effective transit policy will no longer embrace the automobile like we do but rather develop a transit forward approach to planning. It is inevitable that a society will move toward mass transit as a long term solution to mobility. What remaining land we have is too precious for wider roads and more parking. I could go on and on about how bad the automobile is and how great transit is but I will leave it at that.

Eventually people will decide to ditch their cars (GASP!), and some already have for a number of reasons. They may live close enough to work/school or possibly transit trip times or routes have improved. Some people are "captive" riders and cannot drive or afford a car.

When people decide to give up their cars there is this revolutionary and relatively new concept of carsharing that can fill the void of not owning a car. Essentially you become a member and reserve cars near you by the hour. The rates are extremely affordable, about $9 per hour here. Flexcar was established in San Diego several years ago and they had vehicles in many neighborhoods from downtown through metro San Diego and at UCSD. You may have heard that Flexcar was recently acquired by Zipcar; this brings some good and some bad.

Zipcar has a fantastic user-friendly website and the same can be said for their phone reservation system. They also offer a great lineup of car models in certain metros. In San Francisco, for example, they have everything from Honda Civic Hybrids to BMW 3 series vehicles. When you are a member you can use their cars nation wide. Zipcar recently decided that in southern California they are going to focus their fleets on campuses. This is bad news for those who live downtown or in the metro area but should be good news to me as I live near SDSU and work near UCSD. The only problem is that SDSU has not welcomed Zipcar to their campus.

This week I sent an email to President Weber of SDSU, below is an excerpt from that letter.

"The recent addition of the trolley line was a significant boost for those who prefer not to drive their cars to campus for environmental, economic or reasons of convenience. Those who decide to not bring their cars on campus or those who are not vehicle owners would benefit greatly by having more options for mobility. You are probably familiar with the concept of carsharing, a system whereby people reserve vehicles for by-the-hour use. When carsharing vehicles enter communities parking demand is reduced, privately owned vehicles become less necessary and result in reduced traffic congestion. In this new era of environmental awareness this concept has been a growing part of the overall transportation network in cities and on campuses.

Zipcar is an established national carsharing company and its regional focus is on providing carsharing opportunities for campuses in southern California. I do not work for or represent Zipcar. I am simply a proponent of carsharing and am a resident of the college area. It is my understanding that Zipcar does not have any contacts at SDSU who have expressed any interest in partnership opportunities. I would ask that you consider the benefits of a carsharing program on the SDSU campus and pass this information to other decision makers on campus."

If anyone has contacts at SDSU please feel free to pass this along or to put me in contact.

This post has become quite lengthy and it is my intent to keep future posts more brief. Let me know what you think of the style and content.

Don’t forget to visit the maps and calendar here. They are great tools for staying connected to our community.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Visions of the Future: about the 1/31 Foundation for Change gathering

[This was written for the foundation4change discussion board.]

John, thanks for hosting Salon Pro Cambio last night.

For those who weren't there, these questions were handed out at the gathering:

  • Imagine two people living in San Diego 25 years from now. One of them says, "I can't believe the world was like that 25 years ago." What are they talking about?
  • Which presidential candidate, if elected, would bring about the greatest change for good in the world? What change do you hope that will be?
  • Which candidate would bring about the greatest change for the bad if elected? What change do you fear that will be?
  • When was the first time you crossed the U.S.-Mexico border? When was the last time you crossed the border? What do you feel when you cross the border?
  • Do you consider yourself part of a movement? If so, which one? What is a social "movement" anyway? How can you know one when you see one?
Marnie and I did get around to addressing the first question.

I had already done something similar to this for the Car Busters Post-Petroleum Writing Contest of 2005: "Some things don't change at all."

The main idea from that I'd carry forward to this conversation is:

"I can't believe that people 25 years ago didn't live and work in the same neighborhood--I can't believe they used cars (or even public transit) as part of their daily lives."

(I believe that community land trusts--which do involve waiting lists and exclusion of people that way--are a part of this vision, as a way to remove land from being (1) seen as investment income and (2) a slave to "highest and best use". Could cities become composed entirely of community land trusts?).

There are increasing numbers of people outside the carfree movement who are coming to believe that carfree living is a central solution to many environmental and social problems. As only a few examples of new(er)comers to this focus, we have:
I think where the foundation for change discussion is headed though is: "I can't believe there was a border 25 years ago", along the lines of the vision of the Organic Collective and Delete the Border.

As for the questions on presidential politics, how about this:

"I can't believe that 25 years ago some people still thought US presidential politics mattered."

Although, more realistically, I would look for reforms such as those called for by George Monbiot in Manifesto for a New World Order (a world parliament, for one) and by Michael E. Arth.

I found something in Yes! magazine (Winter 07-08) to be encouraging:
"The leadership of ordinary people" is what is needed now.
"The best antidote to the fear, helplessness, and isolation that drives people into apathy is community and joy." Gelder, Pibel. 19.
Regarding the border, I haven't crossed it for a while. But I recently was in the Pine Creek Wilderness (PCW) for a week. And many border crossers pass through there. I've been eating some cans of chipotle tuna some of them left behind. PCW is a very interesting place--it contains one of the few wilderness pedestrian trail networks in the US that is used primarily for making a living rather than for recreation, and it is perhaps the future location of a section of an historic continental migration trail.

I'd love to cross the border in the wilderness, or by walking through the spaces in the pylons on the beach, and not go where all the cars go through and where pedestrians are funneled like cattle.

As for movements, I consider myself part of the carfree movement. I have followed this movement to where it has led me--to learning about Buddhism and meditation, among other things, and to wanting to help people to make their neighborhoods places worth staying in. I think movements just have individuals who self-identify as being part of a movement. And it was a significant moment when I went from non-identification to identification with the movement (see the bottom of this page). Please note I aim to be open to moving beyond/ transcending all my earlier statements and identifications.


Near the end of the gathering, Zach put the question in the air of whether the mixer should be more or less formal in the future. Here's some ideas.

Next time, perhaps have a go-around for each attendee who wants to to briefly share a vision or a project.

If it's a huge group, a volunteer can time things and tell people when some interval has passed -- 15 or 30 seconds or whatever amount of time seems reasonable.

If people have trouble speaking, or even if they don't, they could first pair up with a partner they haven't talked to and share in small groups. Later, people could share what they heard from their partner, as above (this makes us practice listening).

Two more personal notes:
  • "Salon" and "Mixer" seem a bit too snooty for me, but I suppose it fits with the Urban Solace vibe, and the need of the foundation to bring in donors--not just to be a gathering place for eccentric activists.
  • I didn't get around to meet everyone. I didn't feel a great need to get around and network with every person. A go-around would have helped me at least get a message out and hear messages I wouldn't otherwise get. Maybe in the future I will focus more on getting the word out about the things I work on.