Staci Ignell, Project manager for "Our Downtown Vision"
Related Story: What's Your Vision For Downtown San Diego?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Downtown San Diego has undergone a renaissance in the last 20 years but what about the next 40? A forward-looking project has been launched by the downtown San Diego partnership to get us all thinking about the future of San Diego. It is called our downtown vision and joining me to tell us more about it is my guest, Staci Ignell, she's project manager for our downtown vision and Staci, welcome to the program
STACI IGNELL: Thank you, Maureen. Thank you for having me
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Any longtime San Diegan will tell you the downtown San Diego has already changed a lot is the growth of downtown San Diego expected to continue over the next few decades?
STACI IGNELL: Yes it is right now we have 30,000 residents downtown and we have the ability to accommodate about 60,000 more. So we will see about 90,000 if the expected growth is correct. Also we have 75,000 workers in downtown right now and by 2030 we are expecting to see an increase of about 165, to 165,000 workers in downtown. So yes, downtown is expected to grow. I will add as part of outreach for the downtown vision we've been meeting with San Diegans from all over and they have stories for how much downtown has grown over the last 30 years.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And we've heard some of those stories on this program it's really been amazing. So what is the idea of our downtown vision?
STACI IGNELL: Absolutely. So the San Diego foundation of the last three or four years led an effort called our greater San Diego vision. Through the process we surveyed 30,000 San Diegans. So it was a choosing survey that many folks remember. It was long. There were various scenarios for how we move forward with our entire region. The goal there is reworked to accommodate the time they had expected about 1.3 million residents to come to San Diego in the next four years and 63% of that is births over deaths. So it is our children and grandchildren. Whether we want it or not we should expect growth here in the region. The greater San Diego region wanted to do outreach and creative vision for the next 40 years as we prioritize the issues for San Diegans. So through 30,000 San Diegans, they identified seven priorities for moving the region forward they included affordable housing, better educational 40s, transportation, trusted leadership, more parks and open space and protected nature and so forth. So they completed the choosing survey last Valentine's Day. So they ran that for about one year and they had the results come in and take put together a long summary on how we can anticipate to move forward and part of moving forward are the sub regional efforts. So downtown is the first one to move forward with the sub regional effort.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: so the focus that once applied to the entire region is San Diego and is now focused on downtown San Diego future. What sorts of ideas are you looking for? Do you have any categories where you are especially looking for people's ideas?
STACI IGNELL: Yes and first and foremost we talk about the seven priorities that were identified by San Diego in sort of a more granular level we touch on how we can move forward on some of those issues. The reason downtown is going on a region-wide effort is that downtown belongs to everyone. It's a regional asset and its everyone's downtown. So we want to make sure that all voices are heard.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How does it work? How do people give you and offer their ideas?
STACI IGNELL: Love that. We have a couple options for participation especially with the digital age we are in now. So folks can attend one of our town halls we are meeting 40 communities in the next three months and the schedule can be found on our website which is downtown San Diego.org and they can also participate they can do either or or both, they can participate in our choosing survey for the downtown area also found on the website downtown San Diego.org.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What kind of responses have you gotten at the town hall meetings I understand you've been holding them at the beginning of April who has been showing up and what's going on?
STACI IGNELL: My goodness we have folks from all over the community and what we've been trying to do is turn over so for every single rock for community folks, leaders who might not be that engaged the public process that might want to come and listen to what we are saying because you come to downtown do you like downtown, what is your perception of downtown and their perception for how we might move forward so the folks who come to the meetings is a mix, we see all sorts of folks and the response has been interesting. Since we do have about I would say 17 more town halls I don't want to skew the outcomes of those but we do see folks that actually are glad that we are doing regional collaboration and we are seeking input from other neighborhoods and not just moving forward with downtown and doing what we want because it is everyone's. Someone hot topic of course the regional collaboration is important and we see folks and ask them a question how can we better promote collaboration. They say do exactly as you are doing but another hot topic is transportation they say affects everything from jobs, education and more.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Can you give another example is maybe something you have heard so far an idea coming to you about a priority for downtown San Diego's growth?
STACI IGNELL: Yes a perfect one is the shuttle circulator and this was a priority identified by the 30,000 San Diego and as well by the San Diego foundation where they said they circulator shuttle would be huge for transportation within the region, downtown so the downtown San Diego partnership has taken on the task for downtown to easement ability within downtown. So I believe in the next year we will see a circulator shuttle, online and we hope it will be free for the public so that if you need to take your car into downtown of course there are other ways of transportation, but you don't need to move your car once you are there we had a gentleman under a 10 day meeting and he said I had to go to three meetings and I had to move my car between three different parking garages downtown. So no more of that we are hoping to circulator shuttle will help that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Staci we have a new San Diego mayor who says there is too much emphasis on downtown development and not enough in San Diego neighborhoods. What is your response to that?
STACI IGNELL: Downtown is a neighborhood. We are unique neighborhood just like any other. We have residents. We have businesses and some things for families to you. And actually our leadership with the downtown network works with the Mayor's office and all elected officials on this project and actually our elected officials all levels stay local federal both sides of the aisle are looking toward the feedback that comes from this project as their constituents talking.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Why is it that people in other neighborhoods who may have felt neglected, they've seen all this development going up in downtown, so many condos, so many business offices and they're looking at their own neighborhood getting that much attention, why should they care about the future of downtown?
STACI IGNELL: Downtown, that's a very good question and we've been asked that through the town halls, downtown can accommodate, we were in La Jolla the other day and they were talking about how much traffic there is and maybe they can't accommodate so much more density, but downtown can take some of that and other neighborhoods in San Diego can take density as well. But that's what we're looking at is where this density, should our population grow which it will where's that going to go and why that matters.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So when you get the information you are collecting from the town halls and from the Internet, what will you be doing with those suggestions
STACI IGNELL: We will at the end of this are town hall session is an ongoing project that will never sit on the shelf. Our goal is to compile both data from the downtown residence businesses and industries that we represent and then the broader public. So everyone also belongs to downtown which is all of San Diego, we will take information so what we're doing now is identifying priorities as we move forward. What do we want to see also we need to come up with responsible funding mechanisms that are feasible. We will identify those in the late summer we will come back and hold more town halls and this is what we found and it will help us define is even more and how to move forward. We are working with a group in Denver that did exactly the same thing for Denver, downtown. They have a phenomenal plan for milestones each and every year that they will accomplish because they are feasible. They are not out of this world and what we say to folks is okay if you did this cost was associated with this project were priority, what would your thoughts be.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering how much of this might be linked to the fact that state has now terminated the redevelopment agency most specifically the downtown redevelopment agency. There was an awful lot of projects: awful lot has big plans that went along with the redevelopment agency that really will not come to fruition now in a particular way at least. Is this motivated by the lack of that redevelopment money?
STACI IGNELL: This is, so the 2006 community plan had a lot of redevelopment funding in it, so this is to enhance those priorities where we need to look for other funding sources to do that but this is not by any means for us to go search for other money it is just how are we going to move forward. So yes and now however we want to the world is changing so need to redefine our priorities and what we want and what we are seeing more items on a more granular level. So, a dog park, and more swing sets. We are seeing those disparities for downtown. Education opportunities. Bringing satellite campuses into downtown because we are seeing millennial sand baby boomers coming back to downtown but a study showed us the other day that 90% of college graduates are moving back into a city now.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So instead of these grand sweeping changes that may change the look of downtown what you are focusing now on our smaller projects that can improve the quality of life downtown is that the idea?
STACI IGNELL: If the public tells us that's what they want then yes, we don't have a predetermined outcome for what it would be but we are seeing simple things, beautification, clean streets which we are working on every single day and a dog park, or a place for children where they can complain.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And when you get the information, when you compile the information you said you think you're going to be looking for funding sources. Do you envision taking some of that information going to the San Diego city Council saying look, many people on project X can you find funding for Project X
STACI IGNELL: That could be, but it's too early to tell how we will go about that we are bringing many agencies to the table but we will discuss that with the public when the time comes so the public would be involve the entire way.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What other sources of funding might there be?
STACI IGNELL: Could be private so there could be folks that believe in what we are doing downtown or the surrounding communities as well.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You mentioned what Denver was doing, milestones how does that factor into the kind of information and projects you will be promoting or from the information that you will be getting from the public.
STACI IGNELL: The perfect example from Denver is a hop skip and jump transportation method which just like the circulator shuttle makes transportation easy within downtown and a hop skip and a jump is phenomenal and has really made mobility much more accessible downtown so that is just one example of what they have done.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How would you be charting the success of this project overall?
STACI IGNELL: Milestones. We will have metrics and milestones along the way and that's how we determine our success.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: 30,000 people that is the figure you gave contributed their vision to the greater region of San Diego. Are you expecting participation to that extent when it comes to creating a downtown vision?
STACI IGNELL: We sure hope so we would like everyone in San Diego to participate and they can go online to the website to do that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay let me tell people what the website is its downtown San Diego.org you said it basically
STACI IGNELL: We just launched, March 28.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And they can come also to the town hall meetings. When they get the town hall meeting just quickly what are they going to see? Are they going to see any project visions that you have?
STACI IGNELL: We start with a blank slate and so we ask their input. It's an interactive session1 ½ hours we ask them their thoughts and input for downtown but we base it on the seven priorities identified by the San Diego foundation.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And people have until when to be able to create their own downtown vision and tell you about it?
STACI IGNELL: The last time was June 20 in barrio Logan the schedule is on the website and the choosing survey will be up till August.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I've been speaking with Staci Ignell project manager for our downtown vision and thank you very much.
STACI IGNELL: Thank you so much
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The next our downtown vision town hall meeting is tomorrow in Rancho Penasquitos at the hilltop recreation Center starting at 5 PM. Be sure to watch KPBS evening edition at 5 and again at 630 tonight on KPBS television. Join us again tomorrow for discussions on San Diego's top stories on Midday Edition on KPBS FM. I am Maureen Cavanaugh and thank you for listening.