During the next 40 years, the San Diego region is expected to grow exponentially. It will need to accommodate an additional 1.3 million residents, 400,000 housing units, and 500,000 jobs — and all of the basic services that come with a growing economy. With remaining land scarce for development, we must focus on innovative solutions and an urban core that will allow us to accommodate these expected changes.
Downtown San Diego is a diverse, vibrant neighborhood with nearly 35,000 residents, 75,000 workers, and millions of year-round visitors. It’s an urban core that serves as a regional asset to the greater San Diego area. Many live, work, play, learn, shop, and dine downtown.
Downtown San Diego is an economic engine for the greater region, generating nearly ten times more property tax revenue per acre of developed land than the region as a whole. This amounts to approximately $23,000 per developed acre for the downtown area, versus approximately $2,500 per developed acre in other neighborhoods in the greater San Diego region.
Nationally, downtowns are becoming increasingly important to cities as demographics and global trends shift. More individuals, young couples, seasoned professionals, and retirees are moving out of the suburbs and into city centers in San Diego and across our country. With the advancement of innovation and technology, people are looking to be more connected, and have their work, live, and play intermingled and available to them when they choose.
As San Diegans search for solutions to more affordable housing, accessible public transit, better quality of life, more employment opportunities, and innovative and creative thinking, downtown San Diego has the ability to fulfill those needs.
That is why the Downtown San Diego Partnership is leading an effort to make downtown not only one of the most livable and enjoyable places in the world, but San Diego’s solution for the expected growth in our region during the next 40 years.
Building on the framework of Our Greater San Diego Vision, we have partnered with The San Diego Foundation’s Malin Burnham Center for Civic Engagement to create “Our Downtown: Vision, Framework, and Action Plan for Downtown San Diego.” This plan will become the Downtown San Diego Partnership’s plan for crafting the region’s urban core — to provide the job opportunities and housing units necessary to sustain San Diego’s expected growth.
Our Downtown is an opportunity for us to supplement and advance the implementation of our 2006 downtown community plan. With new economic realities and the elimination of redevelopment, we need to establish priorities for our urban core.
The framework for this plan will focus on four key areas: Enjoy; Learn; Work; and Live. This could include discussions on a circulator shuttle system, affordable housing, transportation options, parks and open space, jobs and wages, education and schools, attracting the innovative economy, and a sports and entertainment district.
Both public and private agencies will use the newly created vision plan to help guide and make decisions that affect the form and function —and ultimately our region — of downtown San Diego.
A San Diego Team Effort
Over the course of the next year, the Downtown San Diego Partnership will engage more than 5,000 San Diegans. We’ll host workshops in each downtown neighborhood and nearly 40 additional town hall meetings throughout San Diego County.
This is our downtown. It will require all San Diegans to get involved to help create the vision for our urban core and find solutions to the exponential growth that is expected.
We look forward to engaging our fellow San Diegans, working with our elected officials, and most importantly, talking to our neighborhoods about the future of downtown San Diego and our region.
Kris Michell is the president/CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership. Keith Jones is the chairman of the Downtown San Diego Partnership.