Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Sworn Suburbanite Regains her Faith in the Urban Core

Never Say Never...

Growing up in the ‘burbs, I spent much of my youth romanticizing the urban lifestyle. But less than two years of living and working in Downtown Los Angeles pretty much ruined it for me. Sure, there were pro’s… authentic restaurants and hip bars and clubs within walking distance… gritty experiences, like befriending the scary guy who lived under the freeway since he stood guard over my car at night… easy access to the Staples Center (‘nuff said!). My favorite was, from the eleventh floor of an apartment in the financial district, I could leave the curtains open and fall asleep to a gorgeous view of city lights outlining the skyline.
Still, the reality of everyday wore down on me. It started with little things… costly rent for miniscule apartment space, even costlier parking, and parking tickets on top of it! I moved to more reasonably priced Hollywood—along Sunset Blvd, blocks away from Hollywood and Highland—and had to go through a vomit-in-the-elevator-and-a-property-manager-who-didn’t-notice-it-for-days incident. There’s the well-known LA traffic and horrible drivers… rude drunks spilling out of bars at 2 AM… and one of my bigger pet peeves: not being able to do more than a couple days’ worth of groceries at a time, because I only have two hands and a jug of milk or juice was all I could carry with one. The last straw was having wheels stolen from a gated underground parking garage. (The next morning, the car was balancing on two jacks, not even concrete blocks or anything… I kid you not!)
Since then, I’ve lived back in the suburbs, first in San Diego and now here. But then, on February 21st, I attended the Urban Land Institute’s program at the Crocker Art Museum titled “Unlocking Sacramento's Urban Core:  Identifying, Connecting and Enhancing the Assets.” Feature presentations by the Honorable Doris Matsui and Tim Youmans, and a thought-provoking, moderated panel discussion (that included John Shirey, City Manager of Sacramento; Martin Tuttle, City Manager of West Sacramento; David Taylor of David S. Taylor Interests; and Stephen Jaycox of Fulcrum Property) highlighted efforts to truly move the City forward via planned civic amenities, infrastructure, and private development. My attention was thoroughly captured. Those two hours flew by and made living downtown sound really enticing—not just for empty-nesting baby boomers or hipster/yuppie types, but even for someone like me who has three boys (well, okay, a husband and two boys!) in tow.
Imagine public access to and walkable neighborhoods along the riverfront; bike paths connecting Land Park to Old Sac and beyond; more bridges to alleviate transportation issues; street cars and pedestrian bridges; centers for education and the arts; thoughtfully designed recreation spaces within the concrete jungle... Amidst all the great establishments in Midtown that I already long for, what more could I need? (A downtown arena, maybe? But that will have to be an entirely different blog post!)

Of particular note is how public figures and private developers are collaborating to plan for Sacramento as a region, not separate parcels of land with different stakeholders that just happen to be next to each other. Perhaps the economic downturn has had a profound, positive effect of impressing upon us a simple truth: it is through working together that we can make great things happen.
The ideas of Stephen Jaycox particularly resonated with me, when he spoke of how what we plan and achieve in the coming years will have a lasting impact on the City. Right now is the City’s chance to define its identity for the future, and our industry in particular can help tie in the City’s roots in agriculture and maximize its greatest assets, the Sacramento and American Rivers. It is visionary ideas like that which make me proud to be part of this industry!

Daydreams aside, in all honesty, I may never leave the ‘burbs again. But I’m excited to watch as Sacramento’s Urban Core grows and thrives. Who knows? Maybe one day, I’ll at least get to visit my sons living their hip urban lifestyles downtown.

Did you miss out on the event but want more information? Check out Tim Youmans' PowerPoint presentation here!


Powered by Blogger.