San Diego problems

Peri-urban issues

  • Steady population growth leads to rapid PU expansion, from urban fringe to far hinterland, into the Sierra range. Extensive road networks have outstripped water provision, with high value housing in near desert conditions
  • local ‘rooted’ farmlands are replaced by mobile farming, capital intensive & open to real estate dynamics of land appreciation. . Larger family houses are now shifting to multiple occupation, with growing automobile dependency.
  • Policy aims towards transit-based compact urban form, but cannot contain urbanization & real estate economy. Larger campuses (business, health, education), relocate to the peri-urban, supported by a growing highway network. West coast lifestyle images are about open air & mobility.
  • The US-Mexico border is a special situation, with SD-Tijuana basically as one functional system, but heavily segregated and unequal.
San Diego spatial mapping.png

Climate issues

  • Temperature rise by 2060 between 2.2 and 5 degrees: >50% increase in heatwave days: drier and hotter summers with wetter and stormier winters.
  • SLR of 2m could cost $400m per year. Extreme heat could reach 43 degrees. Already wildfires are rampant in the hills to the north, with many side-effects.
  • Most water is from Colorado basin, now in crisis management: drastic effects on farm production & critical infrastructure.
  • Development by 2100 on current trends will replace up to: 150 sq miles of agriculture, 75 sq miles of grassland, 200 sq miles of forest: all areas of carbon storage & ecosystems / species migration
  • PU development tends to disrupt & deplete landscape quality & resilience: soils, water systems, land stability etc.
  • The wider urbanization of the region & hinterland, shifts from a rural / small town system (vulnerable in some ways), to a conurbation system of mono-functional land-use, automobile systems, real estate logic of value
  • Growing social & ecological awareness e.g. schools, colleges, unions: but not easy to translate this into systemic change.
  • High level of civil / emergency services: but these tend to fall short with vulnerable populations in trailer parks, shacks & cars: migrant, homeless, excluded of many kinds.

San Diego climate effects.png

Governance issues

  • San Diego has many layers of strategic planning, including low-impact transport, environment & climate adaptation. It is debatable how far these can resist the forces of real-estate induced urbanization & financialization
  • Active civic building in many forms: e.g. higher education & new agenda for the ‘rooted’ university, e.g. Bio-regional Centre.
  • Food Alliance & similar grassroots action from local food & ecology projects. Much informal social capital in urban / peri-urban neighbourhoods is almost invisible. Meanwhile grassroots vigilantes are active on the desert border
  • California may have a unique profile of individual awareness & empowerment, combined with a fragmented & displaced civic & public realm.

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