Newly elected Mayor Bob Filner, in an early test of leadership, quickly caved to complaints after CBS 8 Television broadcast a video of residents complaining about construction at University Avenue and Alabama Street. The construction is part of an overall plan to remake University Avenue in North Park into a pedestrian friendly, bicycle friendly, transit oriented street. At media press conference, called by Filner at the construction site, Filner shut the project down.
From his actions, it is clear that Filner is no Michael Bloomberg or Rahm Emmanuel, both who have stood up to tough criticism of their progressive bicycle and pedestrian plans. Those plans, by the way, are now being hailed as great successes in both cities. Other cities are emulating NYC and Chicago in a rush to catch up. San Diego does not appear to be in any hurry.
As mentioned above, the construction is part of an overall plan called the University Avenue Mobility Plan (UAMP) and is intended to remake University Avenue in North Park into a pedestrian friendly, bicycle friendly, transit oriented street. UAMP has been in the design phase since 2004, and has been undergoing public review since 2010. The EIR was opened for public comment in July of 2012. Still, some residents claim they had never heard of the UAMP.
In what is admittedly a blunder by The City, residents, businesses, and public figures were not notified about the commencement of construction on this small section of the UAMP. Understandably, those affected were upset about the construction mess and traffic congestion created by the poorly implemented construction. Many complained to Filner and Councilmemeber Gloria.
Why no notice? In order to receive funding for the project, the project had to begin in 2012, or funding would have been lost. Hence the rush to construction.
What’s next? Will Mayor Filner find his backbone and work to transform San Diego streets into walkable, bike-friend, neighborhood oriented places as he promised during the campaign? I’ll be keeping track and reporting back on both progress and setbacks.