Mixed-Use Mania

A school/central library idea for downtown is the tip of the iceberg of San Diego's multiuse construction plans

Creativity -- but better ideas than a downtown library/school -- is key to solving the many needs of a cash-strapped city.
The reasoning behind building a new downtown library was always lost on me. Proponents don't realize a fundamental societal practice has disappeared. People don't read books any more. They read blogs. And scan tweets. Millions of dollars spent on a library would be money spent on a better daytime rec center for the homeless.

Mayors and councilmembers who supported a new central library have come and gone. Suddenly, somebody decided a library could garner public support if it were combined with a new school for downtown. As a downtown denizen, I support livability projects, but as a tongue-in-cheek curmudgeon, I have to believe there are other mixed-used projects that could better boost our civic needs. How about if:

  • City Hall Moves into the Balboa Theater. Oh, the drama. Council meetings could be in session -- and concurrently interwoven into the plot of "Waiting for Godot."
  • Petco Park Adds a Recycling Center. Journeyman and new Padre Cliff Floyd can do promos about the environmental importance of salvage efforts. Budget-challenged Padres GM Kevin Towers can explain to park visitors the value of retreads and castoff components. 
  • 10th Avenue Marine Terminal Becomes a Barbie Commercial MegaPlex. Think big. We build a giant roof over the messy ship cargo loading area. Retail abounds atop the roof. We build a roof over that and construct a new stadium for the Chargers. The fourth floor will be for a new downtown school. A modest library goes above that. And we top out the sixth floor with two new airport runways -- with zip-line service to Lindbergh Field.

Viva la mixed use.

Ron Donoho, formerly executive editor of "San Diego Magazine," is a regular contributor to NBCSandiego.com who covers local news, sports, culture and happy hours.

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