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Finding a cure for the ‘Huffman virus’
"It's barely 9 a.m. and the humidity is already stifling what would otherwise be a mild August day. In front of a Tudor-style cottage in City Heights, charming with its pitched roof and multi-paned windows, there's a single tree casting shade across the sidewalk.

It's an oasis amid all the concrete. On either side of the Tudor—the only single-family home that remains on this particular stretch of 36th Street—are faded apartment buildings fronted by multiple parking spaces. Next to those are more drab apartment buildings and more parking spaces. It's a scene that repeats up and down the street.

Dubbed "Huffman six-packs," after developer Ray Huffman, these buildings, squeezed into narrow lots meant for single-family homes, are the result of hasty, shortsighted urban planning.

"Utilitarian" is how Hanan Bowman, housing director at the City Heights Community Development Corporation, puts it. Huffman-style properties were built fast to meet a perceived economic threat, he says. With new Mission Valley shopping centers luring consumers away from neighborhood businesses, midcentury Mid-City—North Park, City Heights, Normal Heights, Hillcrest, University Heights and Kensington— needed more density to help those businesses compete. In the late 1960s, Huffman started buying up single-family homes in the Mid-City area and replacing them with eight- to 10-unit apartment buildings (though few are six units, the "six-pack" tag stuck). Other developers, like Conrad Prebys' Progress Construction, followed, using Huffman properties as a model. It wasn't until the 1980s that city planners tried to curtail this sort of development. "San Diego's unhappy history of higher-density housing," is how a 2004 article in smart-growth magazine The Urbanist put it, with the consequence being a lingering hostility to any effort to increase density.

"They weren't really all that well-constructed," Bowman says of Huffman-style apartments, with "the parking in the front taking up a significant percentage of the lot space, the monolithic face of the buildings and such—while utilitarian and purposeful in the '60s and '70s, today is not appropriate for the look of the neighborhoods."

"Subdivided into meaninglessness," says Stephen Russell.

Russell's standing in the lone tree's shade, looking at the two buildings next to it. The architect and board president of the City Heights CDC is both fascinated and frustrated by Huffmans, so much so that in 2010, while at the NewSchool of Architecture, he wrote a thesis on how to revitalize older neighborhoods—Mid-City being his focus—that have been plagued by this sort of piecemeal development. What he set out to do, he says at the end of the 142-page study, was "to find a ‘cure' for the ‘Huffman virus.'"

Ideally within a year, a City Heights Huffman will become Russell's laboratory. Last month, the City Heights CDC was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation to help with the purchase and rehab of a Huffman property, which Russell will use as a case study. The question to be answered: "Can the Huffman structure be sufficiently rehabilitated, both its footprint and its street appeal," Bowman says. "Or, from a cost-benefit perspective, is it more efficient to tear it down and rebuild?"

The project's still in the early stages, and the CDC will have to cobble together money to acquire the building. The goal is to make the project replicable while also being mindful of the challenge of preserving the neighborhood's affordability. City Heights includes some of the poorest census tracts in the county, and older housing stock, like Huffman properties, are de-facto affordable housing.

"How do we come up with a solution that the market isn't going to seize on and do what the Huffmans did and just destroy all the affordable housing?" Russell says. "Because in many cases, you can't even replace what is there under the zoning.… With public monies, foundation monies, there may be a formula that works for the affordable-housing market."

The goal isn't to add density, but to better accommodate it. The density's already there: According to census data, more than half of City Heights households are considered overcrowded under standards set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Huffman-era properties are typically one-bedroom units, many no larger than 500 square feet.

"These places aren't so very dense— what they are is they're crowded," Russell says. "We've crowded everybody in this little footprint in small units."

To address the need for multi-bedroom units, the project will look at whether Huffman-era buildings were constructed in a way that would allow them to be reconfigured into a mix of unit sizes, going up to a three-bedroom space. Another option is looking at whether the parking spaces that front the properties could accommodate a couple town-home-style units.

Huffman-era apartments are defined by long stretches of driveway that allow for four or five parking spaces in the front of the building. Another four or five spaces in the back give each unit dedicated parking. But, at the same time, those front lots reduce the amount of on-street parking while also undermining public use of the sidewalk.

"You've pretty much abandoned [the sidewalk] to a car that uses it 15 seconds a day," Russell says. "Parking doesn't have to drive all of this."

So-called "reverse-diagonal" street parking—angled parking that you back into—is one option to replace those dedicated spaces. It's bike and pedestrian friendly and has been used successfully in cities like Seattle, Portland and Austin, Russell notes in his thesis. Community lots are another option. "We [need to] get past the idea that I have to have my space in front of my place," he says.

Many of the buildings have an illegal extra space, Russell points out, where the owner pulled out landscaping and poured in concrete. Some owners simply replaced the landscaping with concrete to cut back on maintenance costs. All that impermeable surface means that when it rains, polluted run-off is going into the city's storm drains. Getting rid of the front-of-building parking spots would allow for landscaping that would capture that run-off.

(There's a five-block area in City Heights that Russell refers to as the "magic blocks" because there's not a single multi-family unit. Those blocks lack the alleyways for extra parking, making the lots unattractive to developers.)

The CDC, right now, is just focusing on the acquisition and rehab of one property. But as Russell walks through the neighborhood, he can't help but see the bigger picture. He has a map with him, showing the redevelopment potential of each parcel in a four-block area of City Heights. All those Huffmans surrounding the Tudor cottage are "frozen" parcels—dark blue on the map. The rule of thumb, he says, is that for a property to be attractive to investment, a developer would need to be able to double or triple its current density. That worked great for Huffman and others who purchased single-family homes and replaced them with multi-unit dwellings. But those sites, in response to Mid-City's Huffmanization, have since been down-zoned, meaning that unless a developer can combine parcels into a larger project, this isn't an area that's going to attract market-rate development.

Condo conversions—where apartments are upgraded and turned into condominiums, offering a way around the down-zoning conundrum—prettied up Huffman properties in neighborhoods like North Park, Hillcrest and University Heights. But, largely unregulated, the conversions—which took rental units off the market, many of them affordable to lower-income folks—became another example of how not to revitalize an area. Russell says that regulations put in place by the City Council a few years ago have made City Heights unattractive to developers looking to make quick money from a condo conversion.

"Dark blue," Russell says, pointing to one of the Huffman parcels on 36th Street. "If you tore it down, you could put up half of what's on the site."

"What we did is we acted against perceived crowding by saying, ‘Stop, no more development," he adds. "So, now we're stuck with exactly what we have. It isn't going to change, and is this what we want? No, we want to stop this from happening after it happened, as is so often the case.""
kellydavis  stephenrussell  cityheights  sandiego  apartments  huffmansix-packs  urbandevelopment  urban  parking  sidewalks  density  architecture  1960s  conradprebys  progressconstruction  history  rayhuffman  mid-city  northpark  hillcrest  normalheights  universityheights  kensington  housing 
february 2016 by robertogreco
J. A. Cooley Museum
"The J.A. Cooley Museum is located in North Park, one of the older communities of San Diego. Here on display are featured 15 cars from 1886 through 1933 and 25 categories of antiques represented by collections such as model trains, cast iron toys, spittoons, tools, cuckoo clocks, license plates, World War I posters, phonographs, typewriters, and cameras."
sandiego  museums  jacooley  northpark 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Gym Standard has a unique approach to showing and selling art
"El Cajon Boulevard entrepreneur Edwin Negado thinks it’s time to reinvent the way work is marketed"

"At the moment, Edwin Negado and Sergio Hernandez are the two coolest-looking cats at Coffee & Tea Collective on El Cajon Boulevard. They sit shoulder-to-shoulder on a bench seat, swapping ideas for a short video promoting Hernandez’s April 26 art show at Gym Standard, Negado’s sleek footwear and design shop that opened last summer near the intersection of 30th Street and El Cajon.

Once the video is shot and edited, it’ll pop up on the Gym Standard (@gymstandard) Instagram feed, a stream of images that Negado has grown into a reliable digital resource for cool art, design, literary magazines, events and music in San Diego. He has more than 4,000 followers, and rather than simply pimping the inventory at his shop— which he does squeeze in—he shares the bigger, more interesting story swirling around Gym Standard by snapping photos of his customers or going out of his way to capture things he thinks are cool about San Diego in general.

“For me, the strategy is: I put myself into the mind of the potential client,” Negado says later, sitting behind the counter of his shop, which is filled with furniture and fixtures on wheels so he can roll everything out when it comes time to transform the space into an art gallery. “I don’t just want to see 20 fucking photos of the same shoe. I want to see what goes on in the store every day—who’s coming in or what this guy is eating. I feel like those are the type of things people fall in love with.”

Negado doesn’t use Facebook, and you won’t see an email signup on his website or much in the way of marketing outside of Instagram, but the focused, minimalistic tactic seems to be working. He’s gotten a good amount of press in alternative media, independent product designers contact him through his feed and customers who discover Gym Standard on their own seem to like the underground element. But while Negado, at least to an older generation, may seem like he’s purposely trying to keep things relatively under wraps so he can maintain his cool-kid cred, the 30-year-old says he welcomes mainstream attention.

“I feel like Instagram is as mainstream as it gets,” he says. “It’s so intimate. I mean, I’m looking at Instagram posts in my bed in my pajamas. That’s every media buyer’s dream to get into where people don’t have their walls up. That’s way more effective than if I’m driving and seeing a billboard on the street. I feel like Instagram, it just is the new mainstream.”

Negado was born and raised in San Diego, but he cut his teeth at W + K 12, a cutting-edge, experimental design and advertising school run by Weiden + Kennedy, an advertising agency in Portland, Ore., which accepts just 13 students a year into their competitive program. From there, he landed a job as a product-line manager at Vans, where he was the middleman between the marketing department and the shoe designers. He wrote design briefs detailing whom a particular shoe was intended for, setting specific goals and objectives for the shoe designers. While the gig taught him a lot about marketing and thinking about what customers want, he started feeling disconnected from the people he was hired to understand.

“The Vans thing was really cool because I got to see the landscape of business on a corporate level,” Negado says. “But I didn’t like the corporate lifestyle. I felt like I needed to be back in the wild. I needed to be with real people, not numbers and not behind a screen.”

Negado says every penny he made at his corporate job went into opening Gym Standard, which he built with his uncle and dad, carving the space out of the huge storefront that formerly housed ABC Piano Co. Attracted to the energy of North Park and the new, creative businesses like Coffee & Tea Collective cropping up in the revitalized stretch of El Cajon Boulevard between 30th and Ohio streets, he wanted to take a chance on opening the shop before he got priced out.

“I didn’t see the traffic quite yet, but I felt like I wanted to get in early before that transition happened,” he says.

Shoes, ceramics, magazines, art books, clothing and products geared toward those with an eye for design are Gym Standard’s bread and butter, but showing art was always part of the business plan. Negado has hosted several artists in his space since opening nearly a year ago, including Dolan Stearns, Julian Klincewicz and a recent poster-art group show benefitting the neighboring Media Arts Center San Diego.

While the young entrepreneur doesn’t like to call himself a curator, he’s managed to sell out most of the shows. That’s because moving artwork and making sure his artists get paid is something Negado considers an integral part of his job. He agonizes over the marketing of every show and each individual artist, fussing over every photo or video that ends up online. For Klincewicz’s show, for instance, he borrowed a friend’s drone and enlisted the help of young filmmakers in producing a video for Instagram that includes compelling aerial footage; in just 15 seconds, it conveys the show details while making Klincewicz look like an artist you might like to get to know.

“We always need to be reinventing how we talk about art and how we market art, because, you know, you need more than just a date and a picture of what’s going to be in the show,” Negado explains. “I think there needs to be more storytelling, which is what I learned in advertising: You’ve got to get people to fall in love with the art before they even go to the show. If they’re coming here April 26 and they have no idea what they’re going to see, that means I fucking failed as a promoter of the arts. If you’re showing art, you better be fucking working your ass off because your artists are working their asses off, right?”"
edwinnegado  sandiego  gymstandard  2014  kinseemorlan  art  instagram  twitter  marketing  retail  northpark 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Welcome to CicloSDias San Diego, California
""Ciclo­vía," which translates to English as "bike path" was coined in Bogota, Columbia, a city that began experimenting with its model Ciclovia initiative in 1974 as a response to the congestion and pollution of city streets. CicloSDias San Diego is modeled after similar car-free events held in cities around the world, including New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. As of 2012, some 80 Open Streets initiatives are held regularly in North America. CicloSDias is all about connecting communities and giving people a break from the stress of car traffic. CicloSDias San Diego will bring families outside of their homes to enjoy car free streets. The message is clear – we all want a clean, healthy and vibrant San Diego.

CicloSDias welcomes everyone in San Diego to walk, ride, stroll and enjoy our streets. Approximately 5.2 miles of city streets will be opened to families, pedestrians, cyclists, joggers, skateboarders, and anyone else interested in using this public space in a new way.

The event will include a “Hub” in 4 different neighborhoods in San Diego – City Heights, Logan Heights, North Park, and South Park. These Hubs will feature CicloSDias merchandise, showcase event sponsors, and host a bicycle repair booth. Event participants are encouraged to check-in at each Hub and receive a free entry into our Bike raffle.

San Diegans will experience a free ‘open street’ event with activities along the route. Shops and restaurants will be open for business and neighbors and friends from all over will make our streets come alive."
sandiego  bikes  biking  community  ciclovia  ciclosdias  cityheights  loganheights  southpark  northpark 
august 2013 by robertogreco
ICE Gallery
"ICE Gallery is an artist run experimental exhibition space located in the North Park area [no more] of San Diego, California.

ICE Gallery was formerly the residence of a dry ice manufacturer, and then for many years later an affordable bare bones studio/gallery space for many local artists. It is in the spirit of the buildings former residents that we carry on the “ICE Gallery” title. However, ICE is not a traditional for profit gallery. It exists for the sole purpose of being a solo exhibition space for the 4 artists involved; Thomas DeMello, Lee Lavy, Michael James Armstrong, and Joseph Huppert.

The ICE space provides a unique experience for us to experiment with and refine our respective artistic aspirations with complete freedom. No rigid exhibition schedules, no pressure to create saleable objects, no set hours, no wine, no cheese, etc. Our only consistent hindrance is finding a way to fund each exhibition out of pocket, but we all chip in monetarily and physically to help each others exhibitions become a reality. Having the full support of everyone involved allows for each of us to create projects that would otherwise, as an individual artist, be nearly unattainable."
galleries  art  sandiego  thomasdemello  leelavy  michaeljamesarmstrong  josephhuppert  northpark  loganheights 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Flavors of East Africa
"We are a Kenyan inspired cuisine located in beautiful San Diego, California. We have been serving our loyal customers at various Farmers Markets for several years and are pleased to have opened a restaurant. The restaurant is located in the North Park/ University Heights area at 2302 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego CA, 92104. Open on Monday to Sunday from 12pm to 10pm. We welcome everyone to visit us and enjoy a delicious, authentic Kenyan meal."

[via: via: ]
sandiego  northpark  food  restaurants  african  kenya  africa  togo 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Art Produce Gallery - North Park [See also:]
"…a unique artist run storefront exhibition space and public art experience in North Park, a diverse and historic urban community of San Diego. The gallery is entirely visible from the sidewalk and was designed to accommodate sculptural installations, cross-disciplinary works, digital media, and performance events. The space allows for unconventional presentation opportunities for artists and unexpected art encounters for viewers. Intended to enliven the experience of the pedestrian it is an experiment in public art that is accessible to everyone in the community - an attempt to render visibility and transparency into the art process itself.

Originally built as a market, the ART Produce building now houses the storefront gallery, artist’s studios, a community room, Caffe Carpe Diem, the San Diego Shambhala Meditation Group, & Stone Paper Scissors studio. The community room is utilized for public meetings, classes & workshops, film screenings & performance events."
sandiego  art  galleries  northpark  lynnsusholtz  glvo 
february 2011 by robertogreco
There Goes the Neighborhood!
"North Park is going through some dramatic changes. Many of these changes have been spurred by the fact that it is viewed by many as an art and culture district in San Diego. This perception comes with baggage. That baggage is that when the Arts move in, gentrification is soon to follow. There Goes the Neighborhood! is a four day event that not only hopes to shed light on issues of art and its relationship to a specific community, but to also re-examine, through artistic interventions, some aspects of the neighborhood that are sometimes overlooked. There Goes the Neighborhood! has been organized by a group of artists, architects, and interested parties as a way to initiate a conversation about the dynamics of the neighborhood. Our intention, and why you are now reading this, is to include as many people from North Park in the discussion as possible. We hope to see to you there!"
northpark  sandiego  theregoestheneighborhood  art  activism  gentrification  agitprop  the2837university  agitpropproject 
january 2011 by robertogreco
The 2837 University « AGITPROP
"a project that re-imagines the Agitprop space & the surrounding neighborhood as the site of a micro-university, with the goal of opening a conversation about re-purposing the concept of University Education in the context of the ongoing critique of the corporatization of the University. We will begin by investigating the relation of the construction of a mass consumer class in the US after WWII & the formulation of a new concept of individuality that borrowed its notion of self-expression from the legacy of Romanticism, all the while yoking the seeming freedom of expression to the profit system of hyper-inflated production and infinite obsolescence. As the university system is increasingly dominated by corporate interest, the very notion of the student is replaced by that of the consumer, and the value of a university education is understood strictly in terms of the acquisition of readily available skills & knowledge bases that are immediately transferable to exchange value."
sandiego  northpark  local  highereducation  highered  microuniversities  californiabiennial  art  activism  agitprop  lcproject  education  change  corporatism  self-expression  2837university  collaboration  community  consumerism  obsolescence  romanticism  freedom  altgdp  toparticipate  cityclassroom  thethirdparty  the2837university  agitpropproject 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Hot (Food on) Wheels
"Thus MIHO Gastrotruck, an amalgam of the duo's last names and a nod to mijo, a Spanish term of endearment, was born. They launched officially last weekend, with a promising sign: they ran completely out of food at the "30th on 30th" monthly restaurant crawl. All week, they've traversed the county, stopping to serve burgers, Vietnamese sandwiches called banh mi, tacos and potato croquetas to foodies and skeptics in Kearny Mesa, North Park and UTC."

[See also: AND ]
food  northpark  sandiego  restaurants  foodtrucks  miho 
june 2010 by robertogreco
El Take me to El Take it Easy! - Urbanist Blog
"Jay Porter is about to open his new, adventurous "gastro-cantina" just 2 blocks north of his current spot, The Linkery. El Take it Easy showcases two of the same attributes that have made The Linkery such a hit: 1. Ethical Food. 2. Keeping it Weird.

1. Farm to Table. Local. Small Farms. Organic. Craft Beer and Wine. Mindful food and drink. Ethical. The Linkery has been the undisputed leader of this movement in San Diego...

2. "I feel like chicken heads tonight. Naw babe, we had heads on Tuesday. I'm craving spleen & maybe some beef cheek." The dinner conversation does not sound like this at my house.
But the "Keep it Weird" philosophy works. Modern folks get bored. El Take it Easy satisfies the curious, youthful adventurer within us all. Sure you can dine here and enjoy familiar fare like Chicken Mole (the best I've ever had) or Fried Grouper (nice & light), but you can also try the Kentucky Fried Buches (chicken neck) & have a story to tell at the office tomorrow."

[see also: ]
food  restaurants  northpark  sandiego  jayporter  mexican 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Petrushka - North Park - San Diego, CA
"Petrushka is an Eastern European restaurant that just opened a couple of doors down from Pomegranate (one of my favorite restaurants in SD.) The two restaurants are owned by the same people, but they are both unique in their own ways. I'd say Petrushka is more casual and down to earth, with comforting, delicious food and a great beer and wine selection. The staff treats you like family, and whether you're in a big group, on a date, or just by yourself, you'll leave with happiness in your heart!"
northpark  russian  restaurants  sandiego  food  local  easterneuropean  universityheights 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Urbanist Guide
"URBANIST guide aims to promote urban adventure and discovery in San Diego. We are continually inspired by the entrepreneurs who have risked so much to create a unique experience for locals and visitors. They deserve your support. Restaurants that spark conversation. Shopping that encourages individuality. Nightlife that favors authenticity. Salons that understand you. Art that excites you. We believe the businesses listed here represent the best urban San Diego has to offer.

DISTRIBUTION: URBANIST guide is printed annually and distributed consistently throughout the year. URBANIST is a free, fold-out, full color, print publication that can be found all over the downtown and uptown area of San Diego as well as select locations in La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Encinitas, San Diego State, and UC San Diego."
sandiego  guides  local  urban  northpark  food  drink  art  glvo 
december 2009 by robertogreco
North Park Provisions
"North Park Provisions is your neighborhood center for healthful & gourmet specialty groceries & beverages. We carry and are consistently expanding & improving a selection of natural & organic foods for your family. We also specialize in gourmet ingredients for your culinary adventures as well as North Park’s finest selection of fine wines and craft beers. And if you are looking for a creative and gourmet treat for lunch or even dinner check out our deli menu."
sandiego  food  northpark  cooking  glvo  neighborhoods 
august 2008 by robertogreco
North Park - CommunityWalk
"We are excited to launch our NPCA Online Business Directory and Membership Discount Program. Over the next year we will be expanding our Business Membership to promote "Shop Local-Buy Local" in North Park."
sandiego  neighborhoods  northpark  glvo  walking  community 
august 2008 by robertogreco
North Park Produce - San Diego Entertainment Guide at
"In the 10 years since North Park Produce opened, it's carved out a niche as a specialist in ethnic foods of all kinds, from Middle Eastern to Mexican and Indian. Located at 3551 El Cajon Blvd., corner of Wilson Street, the store is a treasure-trove of un
sandiego  produce  food  groceries  northpark 
july 2008 by robertogreco

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