The Metro San Diego CDC will meet on Monday, April 23, 2018 from 4:00-5:00 p.m. The location will be the 10th floor conference room (Room 1050) of the Manchester Financial Center, at 2500 Fifth Avenue.
The Metro San Diego Board of Directors/Charter Committee met on Monday, March 26, 2018.
1.) There was a presentation by representatives of two “dockless” bicycle sharing programs: Limebike and Ofo Bike. Both indicated they had very high usage; Limebike in their first four weeks had about 21,000 riders, who took 55,000 trips. A dockless bike can be rented by using an app; at a cost only a $1.00 for a half/hour or hour. Each program was offering initial free rides. Both company representatives indicated their programs were attempting to educate their users so they parked their bicycles appropriately — avoiding walkways, driveways and doorways. The presentation were favorably received; however, concerns were raised about bicycles being left parked on sidewalks and other inappropriate locations.
2.) After a presentation by Katie Holmes, the Race Coordinator for the Rock “n” Roll Marathon & Half Marathon; the Board/Charter Committee unanimously voted to write of letter of support for the 2018 event. Several attendees pointed out that it was one of the better managed special events in Balboa Park & Uptown.
3.) Don Liddell, the chair of the Balboa Park Committee’s West Mesa Subcommittee, provided an update on measures being taken to control excess special event noise. Liddell reported that event coordinators were now voluntarily working with park staff to lessen noise impacts on adjacent neighborhoods. At the recent St. Patrick’s Day festival, the events organizers placed the loudspeakers facing east, and moved them further into the park. Local neighbors said these actions were very effective in reducing noise levels.
4.) Jennifer Pesqueira, of El indio Restaurant, informed the Board/Charter Committee that Five Points businesses were supporting placement of a stop sign on India Street, at the intersection with Chalmers Street, to slow down traffic as it entered the Five Points business district. City traffic engineering was supportive of the stop sign; since Chalmers Street was north of where airport traffic took an off-ramp off India Street onto the I-5 freeway.
Bankers Hill’s hidden treasure
by Leo Wilson
Past and present of Spruce Street Bridge
The Spruce Street Suspension Bridge is one of Bankers Hill’s historic treasures. Relatively unknown until recently, it is located a block west of First Avenue on Spruce Street. Often visitors discover the landmark while walking through western Bankers Hill and are surprised to come upon such a unique, old bridge.
The bridge was built in 1912. It is an impressive 375 feet in length, and at its center about 70 feet above the canyon floor. It crosses the Kate Sessions Canyon — named after the famous San Diego horticulturist — which is also referred to as Arroyo Canyon. The canyon is full of eucalyptus trees, many over 100 feet high. It is widely believed that Kate Sessions planted many of these stately trees.
Chris von Huene, the co-administrator of the Metro San Diego CDC, walks on the Spruce Spring Bridge in January 2018 (Photo by Leo Wilson)
The bridge also has a view of San Diego Harbor. Edward Capps, the engineer who designed the bridge, was also responsible for the design of a major upgrade of San Diego’s harbor in preparation for the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. Capps had been appointed San Diego’s city engineer in 1909, and later assumed the title of the city’s port engineer. As if this was not enough, Capps also was elected mayor of San Diego twice — serving from 1889-1901, and again from 1915-1917.
The purpose for building the bridge was to provide convenient access for those living west of the bridge to street cars that ran along what are now Fourth and Fifth avenues, which are located on the east side of the bridge. Some of the most architecturally distinct homes in San Diego are located on the west side of the bridge and are definitely worth seeing.
Being a suspension bridge, the Spruce Street Bridge can sway in the wind or when you walk across it. Often people jump about on the bridge to make it sway. This does not mean the bridge is in any way unsafe. It is anchored into the ground by massive concrete piers at each end of the bridge, which in some sections are over 20 feet high.
Although partially shrouded in vegetation, the concrete piers are visible at both ends of the bridge. The steel suspension cables that span the bridge have the ability to support a load of 164 tons, which would be the weight of over 2,000 people. The bridge is also frequently inspected; in 2007, it was briefly closed for a retrofit.
Despite its structural integrity, crossing a bridge that is swaying — especially when you are seven stories above the ground — might still be unsettling to some visitors. Many years ago, I used to regularly ride my bicycle across the bridge in the morning; now just walking across the bridge creates an uneasy feeling.
Unfortunately, the increased popularity of the bridge is causing a negative impact upon the adjacent neighborhood. Late at night, loud and often inebriated individuals frolic on the bridge.
About 14 years ago, at the request of local neighbors and with the support of Uptown Planners, a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew was established for the bridge.
Despite the curfew, increasing late-night activity is taking place on the bridge, often instigated through social media. This activity has been accompanied by illicit behavior, graffiti and littering. Additionally, alcohol containers and drug paraphernalia are now often found at the bridge.
In an attempt to address these problems, the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) has increased its patrol of the bridge, and the city is now considering additional action.
— Leo Wilson is administrator for Metro San Diego CDC and is a Bankers Hill resident.
Published in the Uptown News on March 23, 2018
A look at the First Avenue Street Bridge
By Leo Wilson
One of the distinctive features of Bankers Hill is the presence of three historic bridges. The largest bridge, and the only one used by vehicular traffic, is on First Avenue between Nutmeg Street and Redwood Street — not surprisingly known as the “First Avenue Street Bridge.”
It is 104 feet high and 463 feet long, and crosses over the Maple Canyon Open Space. Both sides of the bridge have spectacular views of the canyon below with its stately eucalyptus trees and other vegetation; the western side also has a magnificent view of San Diego Bay.
The original First Avenue Bridge in 1930 (Courtesy of Digital Archives, sandiego.gov)
The original First Avenue Bridge was built in 1911. It was nicknamed the “People’s Bridge” because its construction was at the instigation of local property owners. This bridge was replaced in 1931 with a steel truss arch bridge, which is the only one of its kind that now exists in San Diego. The replacement bridge was actually built and pre-constructed in Ohio, then dismantled, shipped to San Diego and erected at its current location.
Seventy-seven years later in 2008, the First Avenue Bridge had a major seismic retrofit, which cost almost $13 million dollars. The bridge was closed for about two years while the retrofit took place. In addition, the existing lead-based paint was removed and the bridge was repainted.
The project was mostly funded by two California State Highway Bridge Programs, whose purpose was to provide funds for seismic upgrades and lead paint removal. The city of San Diego also contributed approximately $500,000 for the retrofit project. Besides being seismically unsafe, many corroded metal components of the bridge structure were replaced. The surface deck of the bridge was also rehabilitated.
Aside from the retrofit, another goal of the project was to restore the bridge to how it originally looked when it was built in 1931. This included installing the original type of railings and light standards, as well as restoring the bridge’s bronze color. The retrofit project was done in a timely manner, with the bridge rededicated on Feb. 22, 2010.
On March 19, 2010, shortly after the re-opening of the First Avenue Bridge, stop signs were installed at several intersections on Fourth and Fifth avenues, between Laurel and Upas streets. Installation of the stop signs was delayed until the First Avenue Bridge was reopened.
Although placing stop signs at these locations had been fiercely opposed by many city officials, the decision was supported by petitions with over 500 signatures of local residents and business owners. Many western Bankers Hill residents opposed the stop signs, fearing First Avenue would be negatively impacted by increased traffic.
Uptown Planners voted overwhelming 14-1 to support placing the stop signs, and then-City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer directed that they be installed. Once the stop signs were placed, traffic accidents dropped almost 80 percent along the section of Fourth and Fifth avenues in which they were located. There was no major increase in traffic along First Avenue.
Subsequently, additional stop signs have been placed along Fourth and Fifth avenues. Although initially controversial, the stop signs are now looked upon as a success story.
However, the controversy raised an important issue. Even with the retrofit, there are limitations on how much additional vehicular traffic the First Avenue Bridge can safely handle.
Several engineers involved with the retrofit project indicated that its purpose was earthquake safety, not strengthening the bridge so that it could accommodate additional traffic. They expressed concerns over the impact of too much additional vehicular use.
Future mobility planning in Bankers Hill needs to take this limitation into account.
— Leo Wilson is administrator for Metro San Diego CDC and is a Bankers Hill resident.