Wednesday, December 5, 2007

what would make downtown San Diego better?

The best and the worst thing to happen to downtown San Diego is the Gaslamp quarter. I believe that if it wasn't there, downtown San Diego would be much better off.

What is missing from Gaslamp? Character. Right now it has the character of what a downtown should look like if a big corporation ran it. That is probably what is going on.

Because of brilliant engineering, most people head straight to the heart of Gaslamp (Horton Plaza) and branch out from there. Its the only place where parking is free and guarenteed. And its the area where the foot traffic is the most dense. These are two very attractive reasons why you wouldn't start your journey outside the gaslamp area. Another thing is that parking outside gaslamp is anywhere from $10-$20. Is "the Man" behind this so that people wouldn't park anywhere else than Horton Plaza? There is some food for thought.

The first thing that is wrong with it is that it is too small for small businesses to open shop, who would otherwise bring character to downtown San Diego. For me, the best places to eat at are places where the quality of food takes precedence over decor, hospitality, and service so that prices for authentic food are a bargain. I know that most people I know would say the same thing. Because at these places, the food is honest, authentic, and good. Maybe when I hit my 40s, Gaslamp would make more sense. I don't know for sure. But the line items of honest and authentic is not in the priority list of how the gaslamp people like to do it. They want ambient lighting, candles at every table, a cute hostess, popular music played a little too loud, hispanic people cooking in the back, and a waiter/waitress who are trained to talk to you at eye level. They run it like a tight ship and they are all great things for a successful restaurant, but when everyone does it, there is nothing interesting about it.

I would rather eat at a place like a self seating curry joint, where there is a line out the door with weird music playing in the background. Because you know the food is going to be good, authentic, and usually at more than reasonable prices. Gaslamp does have the possibility to implode one probably wont' happen, but it could... Take for example Del Amo mall in Torrance, CA (my home town when I was in high school). It used to be THE largest mall in the world, but is now a pretty sad place. What happened? It got bought out by some big company and they decided to jack up the rent which only big department stores could afford which effectively got rid of the small unique stores, and were replaced by 2 gaps, 2 millers outposts, 3 radioshacks...and so on. I'm sure their profits were up for a good 6 months. But until the gaslamp bankrupts itself, we will be missing out on what its like to have a real downtown.

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