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June 04, 2012


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A very good piece, Jon.

San Diego in the 50's was a nice town.

Why California Booted the GOP - and Other States Will Too - Rolling Stones:


This sounds too good to be true to me. Are the Democrats able to do anything with a majority? California, a good example?

Is AZ a candidate? Probably too much crazy en masse. Baghdad supposedly was/is the "anus of the world". Is AZ the anus of the US? Oh wait, Mississippi...

Might be instructive if Jon 'splained how he landed in Seattle vs. San Diego. Probably, we can guess at part of the answer, but your shoes turn up like Rumplestilstskin in the Pacific NW. I have the antique Florsheim wingtips to prove it!

When it became clear that I couldn't get work in Phoenix, we made a list of cities that had the assets we wanted.

Among them: Abundant train and transit service; arts and culture; walkable real neighborhoods; a vibrant downtown; progressive politics; literate and engaged; diverse, powerful economy and world-class.

The list included Boston, New York, Chicago, Denver, Portland -- but at the top was Seattle. To the extent that weather played a role, Seattle is generally temperate and rarely too hot or too cold. As a native Phoenician, I like rain, although Seattle doesn't rain nearly as much as people think (or as depicted in "The Killing," but that's OK because I don't want people moving here).

I had done San Diego when I was young, but had little interest in living there again.

Yup, there are plenty of Phoenicians who sigh whistfully when they think of San Diego- including the realtor who sold me my downtown Phoenix condo! And it rains here in Seattle - a lot! It's freezing here in June!
Let's hope more states boot the GOP - so the anus stays in Mississippi where it belongs!

Don't forget San Diego's Native Americans (and their nearby casinos).

Well there is a Bagdad AZ.

Eclectic dog ck ur e mail for coffee date

A few key points "looked over" by this Rogue.

"...The Marine Corps induction and training base was just north of one-runway Lindbergh Field..."

Correct (it still is) though depending on which "years" you were there the Navy also had bootcamp in the same location.

"...San Diego gave the feel of the most Anglo city in America, even though the city limits touch the Mexican Border. Mexican-Americans were largely hidden away and disenfranchised when I was there, the barrios ignored..."

Save for the tourist mecca "Old Town", you are corect. (More Spanish than Mexican--if you ask me)

As far as the Barrios go..., Logan Hieghts comes to mind. It is the largest of the Barrios in the San Diego region. The city of San Diego and the State of California, built the largest park in the downtown region for Mexican American communty. It still stands today, as the iconic... "Chicano Park".


One more key point..., is the fact that many used the "trolley" back in the day, as it was an easy hop to the Mexican Party destinations of T.J., Rosarito, and Ensenda.. Some still do, though due to the passport requirements, the College and Military crowds no longer enjoy the party atmosphere south of the border.

Lastly, just an honorable mention of Coronado, would've been nice. It is one of the nicest beaches in So. Cal. Not to mention also homeport to NAS North Island.

San Diego resident from 85-89

Jon: certainly agree with your decision points on where to land and am sure you scored them out on some sort of grid. Then there's the elements of cold, snow and affordability. My brother was seeking the same attributes and fell back in love with Boulder until the inflated prices in the walkable areas became a deal-breaker.

Some years ago, my wife and her late (mobility-challenged) husband shuttled back and forth from her job in Phoenix to their very modest boat, moored by the Marriott. Pretty affordable and within walking distance for lots of shopping. Comes under the heading of that "adaptive behavior" thing that is making more and more sense nowadays.

Where's the anus?
As I slowly travel throughout the country, I sometimes mention my home of Phoenix, Arizona. Two recent responses told me a lot.

A 20 something native of Tennessee remarked how surprised he was of Arizona's intolerance located so close to California.

A 60 something native of South Carolina who worked around the world and now resides in Florida commented that the politics in South Carolina were almost as bad as Arizona.

Natives of the American south consider Arizona intolerant.

To many Americans Arizona is the anus of the US.

"To many Americans Arizona is the anus of the US."

No, Arizona is what is excreted from the anus.

"even though the city limits touch the Mexican Border. Mexican-Americans were largely hidden away and disenfranchised when I was there, the barrios ignored. The illegals slept in boxes tucked away in the arroyos beneath the mesa subdivisions and La Jolla mansions."

Non venturous folks missed the great underground Mexican culture in San Diego that had been their for many years. How could you forget Mickey Garcia brought his style from Pachuca, Mexico to San Diego.

And I recall those Pachucos right here in downtown Glendale with their zip guns made from car antennas.


Things stay crazy in Arizona but at least the nut jobs keep getting the truth thrown in their face. For example the smoldering van full of drug smuggling Mexican illegals in Pinal county is not the case at all, as Sheriff Babeu would have us believe. Babeu is always pushing his Chicken Little drug cartel thing but the facts keep slapping him down.

However, The Sheriff as the ultimate legal authority thing is starting to catch on around the country.

Reminds me of : "Myth and history are intertwined in the England of 800 years ago. We all remember the outlaw, Robin Hood. From his hideout in Sherwood Forest, he and his band of Merry Men preyed on the rich and gave to the poor. Their archenemy was the Sheriff of Nottingham, who took his orders from the sinister Prince John. While Robin Hood never existed, John certainly did. He was the central character in a real life drama that led to a milestone in human liberty: Magna Carta."

Arizona makes San Diego, CA look pretty inviting. May be I will spend part of the summer in National City and bone up on my Spanish and maybe hook up with a Pachuca who has a couple of dot tattoo’s on the back of her hand between her thumb and index finger.

This is on topic since San Diego will be where the western White House is located during Romney's two terms.

When Obama is handed his walking papers next November, people will look back to the Wisconsin recall battle and understand that is where the war was lost. Obama's unwillingness to get his hands dirty in this battle sent two very clear messages to the losers that are the Democratic party.
1. Disorganized labor now has the political power of say "the silent majority", "the Latino vote" , "the Independent vote".

2. The strongest message sent, "The Democratic party now admits it is a party of Wall Street, just like the other guys."

There is now, and has been for quite some time, only one party, The Republican/Democratic Wall Street Party.

I will vote for Gov. Gary Johnson and my conscience will be clear.

This loss in Wisconsin will embolden all sorts of right wing-nuts across the country to strip away many hard fought gains by the working class.

Not on Topic azrebel. A Romney win moves the white temple to Salt Lake!!!!!!

Where is Mick?! He's the only one who really gets it!

Actually, Mr. Cal,

A cult President, elected by a "Christian" nation may have Biblical implications.

If we have to have a big "M" tatooed on our foreheads, it could be adios AzRebel.

Side-note: Since Mr. Talton referenced Niall Ferguson in the previous thread, specifically the alternative history of WW I thesis, I posted some remarks there on that, and more broadly on the German ethos of the period.

Side-side note: I commented on Emil's very interesting post.

I suggest Embers by Sandor Marai

AZRebel - Your note about Wisconsin and its consequences for Obama in November stand as the first crack in the firmament of my prediction of his inevitability for reelection. As I stated last year, only an unforeseen snafu could waylay that outcome. Perhaps I'm only hedging, but the fact that I feel the need to hedge is evidence enough for me to start watching this race a little more closely, as of yesterday.

Things just got interesting.

No one is invincible! GOP plan is too take out Obama. Nothing else is as important. The GOP will lie and cheat to get job done. Look to Florida and New Mexico for examples. Down side for GOP, they may end up with Hillary.
Take it from a old time republican, Calvin.

Like in John Calvin?

cal - While I'm no fan of the Clinton clan, Hillary's storied vindictiveness, aimed at the "vast right-wing conspiracy," would be a welcome development.

So blow some vertical smoke at me - how would such a development come about in this short window of time?

Obama decides not to run after a secret meeting with Bill Clinton. Probable reason. Bill has a copy of an Indonesian birth certificate.


Just came across this post - great piece. The stock of vintage historic buildings downtown San Diego has (and was able to save) is probably the fundamental reason it is so successful. Interesting that you point to Horton Plaza as a significant catalyst - I wasn't aware that it was as successful as you reference. I don't think I've been there, as it has always seemed to me as the generic inward-facing "urban" shopping mall that turns it's back on the street and interrupts the fine-grained block pattern (Except for occasional nightlife in the Gaslamp quarter, I too, almost only hang out in OB when I go to San Diego, I usually try to stay at the Inn at Sunset Cliffs - a great 50's era restored motel right between OB and Point Loma - it's courtyard fronts on the small ocean side cliffs - highly recommended to my fellow July climate refugees)

So I always figured that Horton Plaza was just San Diego's version of Arizona Center. I'd like to hear your take on what made their "mega-project" a better financial success. Is it a different project, or is it just taking advantage of a stronger economy and real estate sub-market relative to downtown Phoenix?

I would venture to guess that the reason for the success of Horton Plaza as compared to the Arizona Center is about 40 degrees in air temperature.

I'm glad you weighed in Phx Planner (looks like Soleri has kicked me to the curb).

Horton Plaza was definitely the catalyst for downtown's turnaround. Although inward facing, it is still an urban mall and was wildly popular with the tourists. City leaders were behind it. Tax-increment financing and favorable code/zoning also helped turn Gas Lamp from skid row to what it is today. Urban redevelopers and redevelopers gradually joined in. And, starting with the then Hotel Intercontinental and next the convention center came the mega projects.

Interestingly, the last people to embrace downtown (I knew the head of the downtown association) were the San Diegans themselves. Now that's changed and downtown seems inevitable. It wasn't. It took vision, work, capital and sustained focus.

The Mission Valley malls didn't want Horton Plaza and it was considered a long shot. There's SD weather all over and lots of the bigs wanted the focus to remain on Mission Valley/Mission Bay.

If Arizona Center had been paired with today's convention center and ASU, along with leaders equivalent of Pete Wilson and Ernest Hahn, and, an essential, the benefit of tax-increment financing, it would have succeeded (admittedly, Phoenix is such a toxic underachiever). As I wrote above, the average San Diegan didn't "go downtown" until long after downtown was succeeding.

Here's an unfortunate coda for S.D.:


It's a good thing downtown now has an unstoppable momentum.

I recently visited San Diego last week, just after this fine article was written. What impresses me about San Diego is how this generally conservative city is how progressive it is in its urban character.

For one, San Diego knows how to do transit-oriented development. If TOD is an art, San Diego is Rembrandt. The simple Trolley system has managed to anchor entire communities around many of its stations, or weave the lines into destinations. In some examples -- Santee, America Plaza and City College stations -- the architecture is even wrapped around the Trolley tracks!

San Diego is also teeming with reclaimed traditional urban neighborhoods. A great example is Little Italy, which is incredible because it is a dense, compact (1 sq. mi.) neighborhood that seems so out of place from downtown. It's in the shadow of the skyscrapers of the downtown district aptly named Core. The neighborhood keeps some longstanding and modern Italian businesses, but it's actually an interesting mix of demographics, small businesses and architectural styles. It's a gem.

Interesting things are also happening in older mid-city neighborhoods far away from the Trolley (but having what passes for frequent bus service by San Diego's standards). Hillcrest is the city's premier gayborhood, and neighborhoods in proximity to it have also been improving -- places like Golden Hill, North Park, Normal Heights and City Heights. Bohemians, hipsters and students are helping to transform the areas on and around El Cajon and University from downtown to San Diego State University, with each area developing a personality.

It's wonderful to see.

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