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1: City of San Diego and CSD staff explaining Vision Zero design alternatives for University Avenue at a pop-up engagement event

Being an urban planner can sometimes feel like being a sports fan of a mediocre, underperforming team. You take a lot of hits and tough losses and are at times forced to swallow some bitter pills. I’ve questioned if being a planner is the right career for me in the same way I’ve often rationalized my support for my sports teams. I tell myself the big victories make it all worth it. Big wins, typically years in the making, are why I remain optimistic in the value of my work and our city’s commitment to creating safe streets for all road users, not just drivers.

Two weeks ago we celebrated a big win with the City of San Diego when they learned they had won $5,441,220 in grant funding from the state’s Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). The list of approved projects indicated San Diego would receive  $5,441,220 to “[i]mplement Complete Street measures including raised medians with pedestrian refuges, roundabouts, and wider sidewalks,” effectively funding the first Vision Zero infrastructure project in the city.

2: Conceptual rendering of the preferred alternative

Circulate has been one of the stakeholders involved with the project since last year, when the city created a working group to find solutions for a half-mile stretch of road on University Avenue in City Heights determined by city traffic engineers to have the highest concentration of collisions in the city. Circulate participated in the working group and helped broaden the level of engagement for the project, especially with residents and business owners who rarely participate in planning processes, by implementing a community engagement strategy that included hosting pop-up engagement tents, digital outreach, and canvassing local businesses.

Through these efforts, Circulate facilitated the involvement of hundreds of people, 50+ businesses, and was able to demonstrate strong public support for safety measures on University Avenue. We reported on our work and sent it to the city to be included in their grant application. We don’t know how much effect, if any, our work had on the final determination to award the city funds, but are immensely grateful for the outcome: One big win to reaffirm our commitment to complete streets and Vision Zero.

Special note: Circulate would like to thank Mayor Kevin Faulconer and former Councilwoman Marti Emerald for their leadership, this project would not have been possible without their support.