I disagree with the assertion in a letter in the May 15 issue of the San Diego Business Journal that “transit oriented development, a.k.a. smart growth, fails reality check.”
I further disagree that smart growth is nothing other than a “government scheme” with no consideration for the citizen; a scheme created by “government people.” Sweet and pompous? These are not words that I would use.
I agree that: Focusing growth … requires a concurrent improvement in transportation. Equally necessary is the concurrent need for improvements to every level of infrastructure (water, sewer, drainage, electrical and communication utilities, police and fire protection, trash pickup, libraries, etc.).
The bureaucrats do not expect all transportation growth to be accomplished by mass transit. In fact, far from it. Mass transit is intended to be only one part of a complex system of transportation options. The evolving countywide recommendations of the 2020 Regional Transportation Plan or the Metropolitan Transit Development Board’s proposal for improving the commute on Interstate 15 are just two examples.
Pedestrian-friendly development does not preclude use of the automobile when transporting groceries or other bulky objects. However, it could, and will, provide for a comfortable and safe environment to walk a block or two to get on a shuttle bus that will take a commuter to the nearest express bus, trolley or commuter rail station.
Developers, builders and planners react to market conditions. Both new development and redevelopment, expanded freeways and public transportation, are for the benefit of us all, those that buy the houses, make use of the freeways and mass transit systems, and benefit from the employment centers.
Smart growth is evolving toward an approach to development that will encourage the expanded use of pedestrian and transit oriented development, public transportation (whether that public transportation is by bus, train, trolley or combinations), all with reduced emphasis on the automobile. Government leaders overseeing large metropolitan areas know this (look at San Francisco and New York). Government leaders in San Diego also know this.
Afford those same government leaders the opportunity (always with extensive input from the public) to direct a mixed approach to the future development, transportation and utility needs of San Diego County and the region will both grow and maintain those attributes that make San Diego County so unique.
Constructive, not destructive, criticism is what is called for. I for one, do not want to live in Temecula, work in San Diego and have to commute on a 24-lane freeway every morning and night.
(Editor’s note: Pountney is president of Pountney & Associates, Inc.)