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Today, Circulate San Diego released a cutting-edge report titled A Place for Placemaking in San Diego, calling for the City to leverage the power of creative, community-led projects as a resource to make progress on City goals. The report details recent challenges with local placemaking projects and a series of recommendations to simplify the process based on multiple case studies.

A Place for Placemaking can be viewed online at

San Diego prides itself on its diverse, unique neighborhoods and innovation. The City’s General Plan is built around the fundamental idea of creating a City of Villages, where “each village will be unique to the community in which it is located.” In neighborhoods across the City, residents are willing to step up to implement their own vision of their space, yet challenges to receive City permits in this process are a major impediment. 

“The City has the tools to facilitate the process, but it requires a concerted effort to make the process more user-friendly and equitable. Residents who completed projects consistently highlight the challenges and high costs as such extreme barriers they wouldn’t attempt the same project again,” says Kathleen Ferrier, report author and Director of Advocacy at Circulate San Diego.

Other cities in California and the U.S. have model programs San Diego can emulate. These include National City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Minneapolis.

The report features interview with local residents and non-profit organization representatives in five different neighborhoods who discuss challenges and opportunities with completed and desired projects. The interviewees participated in an informal coalition called The Neighborhood Placemaking Collaborative to share stories and draft a new, user-friendly process. The City is collaborating with these stakeholders to chart a path towards successful placemaking efforts in our neighborhoods.

David Graham, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Neighborhood Services, has expressed his support, “Placemaking can activate dead spaces in neighborhoods and energize communities. The City is collaborating with partners to chart a path that allows for creativity, rejuvenates blighted areas and creates a sense of civic pride in our neighborhoods.”

Funding for the paper was provided by The Kresge Foundation and Transportation for America.

Circulate San Diego is a regional non-profit organization dedicated to advancing mobility and making the region a better place to move, work, learn, and play. Our work focuses on creating great mobility choices, more walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, and land uses that promote sustainable growth.