Mixed Use Housing and Placemaking

How might we foster a sense of place and community in the face of vacation rentals, mixed-use houses, and gentrification?


On any single day, a person in San Diego has many needs they may want satisfied: work, food, social interaction, exercise, and more. Access to these needs, under car-centered development patterns of the recent past, have been separated from one another and relatively inaccessible by foot, bicycle, or public transit. This separation of uses potentially has consequences for an area’s sense of place, because the elements which produce that sense — food, recreation, commerce, work — are removed from the walkable, human scale in which daily life is experienced.

Specific angles to explore

One way to find methods for placemaking is to look at positive examples, past and present. For instance, cities are taking inspiration from the vibrant main streets of the past as exemplars in how we might live today. Cities are paying attention to zoning policies like Portland’s urban growth boundary, which densify and diversify development. Here in San Diego, the city has responded with a strategic framework called the “City of Villages” plan, which “focuses growth into mixed use activity centers that are pedestrian-friendly districts linked to an improved regional transit system.” However, these centers need the insight of the people living in and around them in order to realize their full potential as centers for life, culture, and belonging in San Diego.

Translate urban growth boundaries: How might San Diego translate insightful land use policies like Portland’s urban growth boundary into our city’s unique situation?

City of Villages: How can San Diegans carry out the “City of Villages” strategic framework while still maintaining productive lines of communication between neighborhoods?

Legal Structure: How might we build a legal structure that allows community insights to be represented in San Diego’s built environment, without allowing local resistance to stop important building like affordable housing?

Reflective CultureHow might we create neighborhood identities that reflect the people, culture, and history of a neighborhood?

Adapt Public Spaces: How might we adapt public spaces to better support a variety of purposes?

Lower Financial Barriers: How might we lower financial barriers to living in and co-producing our neighborhoods?