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My Q&A last week with downtown redevelopment head Fred Maas has sparked a wide-ranging discussion on our comment board.
I wanted to add something from the end of my interview with Maas in the hopes of keeping the conversation going.
Downtown advocates are fond of pointing out that downtown’s population is expected to triple in the next 20 years. That will happen, Maas argued, because of a series of policy decisions that has made downtown the chosen center for San Diego’s population growth. Not just in San Diego but all around the country, the received wisdom in urban planning is to encourage people to move to dense, compact areas rather than expansive suburbs and subdivisions. The downtown agency must continue to exist to accommodate that push, Maas argued. Therefore, it should continue receive priority funding over other neighborhoods:
The decision has been made that downtown would be the recipient of a disproportionate share of the growth that’s going to happen here. Many, many decisions have been driven by that. Infrastructure improvements, transit improvements … and we have to be prepared to accommodate that. Unless we create a holistic environment that deals with the needs and desires of people that want to live in a new urban setting, we’re never going to attract them.
I’m hoping with this post pushes the debate toward answering two questions. First, do you accept the premise that downtown should be the center of the city’s future growth? Second, if yes, are there options for accommodating that growth other than increasing the amount of money the agency can collect? Comments are open.
— LIAM DILLON