By Lori Holt Pfeiler & Scott H. PetersOctober 2, 2011
Our task force has an extraordinarily challenging job – thinking through housing, transportation, water, energy, environment and cost of living 25, 50 and even 100 years from now. Our 60 members have considered how these issues will weave together as the region grows by an estimated 1.3 million people in just 30 years.
Whose priorities are these issues? Yours.
The San Diego Foundation surveyed 1,000 regional residents and asked what affects their personal quality of life. Of the top four concerns, three are covered by our task force: cost of living, traffic congestion/lack of transit and lack of affordable housing. As to what residents thought the region’s priorities should be, water resources and quality ranked third.
When we ask where should we grow and how, the relationship between the built environment and the natural environment comes into sharp focus. As does cost.
Key among the factors is how to address housing affordability and location. We will need a mix of housing types – townhouses, condominiums and neighborhood housing – and we will want them close to jobs.
Transportation choices, commute times and air quality also weave together. How do we drive less by providing transportation alternatives from transit to biking to walking? How do we reduce congestion and delays as we expand economic development centers? What about trips for recreation, entertainment and day-to-day errands? How do we ensure walkable access to transit, education, parks and open space, health care facilities, and amenities such as museums and theaters?
Open space is also a critical component of land use. Where do we build and maintain farm land, conservation areas and open space such as parks and scenic areas? Although the task is daunting, we have begun to develop two potential approaches for planning for growth.
A “market trends” approach depends on the numbers and types of housing units the economy is expected to produce, regardless of current plans. Our forecasts anticipate significant increases in household size and the percentage of renters vs. homeowners over time. People will choose housing based on their needs and what they can afford.
The “city forecast/RTP” approach plans growth based on the current approved plans of all 18 city and county governments.
Either approach will have to accommodate significant population growth. That will entail tough choices, trade-offs and disagreements. Will we redevelop existing centers of density or older single-family neighborhoods, or will we develop on raw land? And that’s where we need to hear from you.
When every one of us weighs in beginning Nov. 8, a shared vision will emerge. With your help, we are confident that our regional vision will promise a bright and prosperous future. Everyone can participate, everyone can choose. We need you to do just that.