Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mission Hills residents can show support for bike lanes.

We can show support for SANDAG's bike project at the Uptown Planners meeting next Tues, 9/3

If you have not yet told your friends and neighbors that we are finally getting safe bike lanes through-out our city, now is the time to! 

We are still very much in the concept phase, but it is crucial to make sure our voices are heard so we get a world class project implemented.  Key issues are safety, connections, and access.

Here is the agenda for the Uptown meeting which starts at 6pm.  Please note there is a map that shows you where to go.  (Next Trader Joe's.)

See you there!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Five Points BID meeting

You're invited!

Calling all residents: there's a Five Points BID meeting tomorrow a.m.

The BID is having a meeting to discuss how they will lose parking spots if the bike lanes go in at the bottom of Washington.  Here is the invitation with further information.

See you there!

Parking, Parking, Parking.....

Proposed Washington Street bike lanes in San Diego, Five Points area.

Lately when it comes to the Washington Street Bike Upgrade project, all I've been hearing about is parking.
Yes, parking.

I had never given even a passing thought to parking management is in San Diego until I began working on the efforts to improve Washington Street.  

I first heard about parking as it's own trade when I started talking to the Mission Hills BID about Walk The Wash.  They all said the idea to make Washington Street bike and pedestrian-friendly was a good idea, but 'just don't eliminate any parking' is what they said.  

I agreed.  After all, parking is really, really hard to find at certain times of the day at Five Points.

I did 3 months worth of tours in the area in late 2012, and when I talked to people about how Washington Street could change for the better with a new footpath and bike lane, no one from the public ever mentioned parking.  They were focused on how great it would be to finally feel safe getting around the area without a car.  Some of them shared other ideas of how to make the area feel more like a community.

But now that the designs for the bike lane are out, a lot of people are suddenly focused on parking because it turns out, you can't keep put in bike lanes and a sidewalk, AND find room to park cars without closing down a lane on Washington Street.  

So, if you can't close a lane, something's gotta give.  It looks like it's the parking at the bottom of the canyon.

I asked the employees one Friday morning at Gelato Vero where they park. They laughed, and said, it's really hard to find parking.  They said if they work in the morning, it's easy.  But if they work an afternoon shift, it's really challenging. They said that many times, the afternoon shift person will call in and say, 'I'm here, but I'm just circling, looking for parking'.  And then the employees will see the person drive by in their car, circling, looking to find a place to park.  The person will usually end up parking up the hill in the neighborhood, so that means the residential area is now a parking lot for the businesses down below.

I think it's strange that a City can keep giving out business licenses, and allowing areas to put in more and more businesses, but not coordinate the infrastructure support of items like additional parking, or increased public transit, or safe bike lanes to support access to the businesses. They do require minimum parking spots for each 1000' of business establishment (2.1 spots in Five Points!) but when you have amazing grub from so many famous places (El Indio and Reagle Beagle to name just two,) it becomes a destination spot for people.  Let's face it, people come to Five Points from all over the County.

I also think it's a little short-sighted of the business owners to keep trying to grow their businesses, without tackling the parking issue.  Why aren't they creating parking lots?  Where do they expect their employees to park? Where do they themselves park in the Five Points area?  I estimate that there are about 40-50 spots needed for employees on any given day in Five Points.

The thing is, if bike lanes go in, it will actually alleviate parking problems because frankly there is no more parking left.  So, by having safe bike lanes, more people can ride their bikes to their jobs, which will free up parking for the area. Patrons can also ride their bikes to Five Points.  

What do you think?  Do you believe parking will become available if more people feel safe getting around by bike?  How long do you think it will take society to transition to this mode of travel?   

Litter on Washington

Unlike the rest of Five Points, litter at the bottom of Washington street tends to build up over the weeks.  
Fellow resident, John Lomac had noticed it driving up the canyon one day and mentioned it a few weeks ago because was particularly bad.  We took a walk over to see it and noticed a lot of cigarette butts, fast food wrappers and drink bottles, straws, etc.  

Along India Street, the business owners do an amazing job of sweeping the sidewalks, and generally keeping everything very clean and welcoming. 

But as soon as you turn up the canyon, over in the bike lane parking, it's full of litter.  So what's happening?

During the day, employees for some of the businesses tell me they park there.  It's not a metered area, so they don't have to move their cars if working an 8 hour shift.  That said, I do not think they would be eating fast food and leaving the litter there.  

I think the litter is coming from folks who come late at night to Bar Dynamite, which pretty much becomes a club atmosphere with a DJ late at night.  This crowd which likes to get their drink on, their dance on, and also needs to satiate their drinking with fast food.  So, they go out for drinks, grab some fast food, then head to Bar Dynamite to kick up their heels.  Sounds like fun, but they're leaving all their nasty trash when they leave.  

It would be great if the business owners could get a crew from each business out to clean it up every morning.  

Debris of every type of fast food you can think of: cups, straws, bags, boxes, lids, containers, and all plastic!
Lots of bags that blow around and end up everywhere else.

The litter is all the way up the hill as far as the cars park.

It blows across the street onto the other side too.

Here's a bag trapped by some weeds, halfway up the side of the canyon.

When the first rains come in the Fall, all the litter will flow down the canyon, into the storm drain, and then wash out to sea, where it ends up on our beaches.

One of the big benefits of implementing the bike lane, is that this area will have a proper footpath, and these cars will be parked elsewhere.  I imagine the City will have a place for trashcans too, so hopefully this mess will get resolved once the bike lanes are in.