Heal The Gash: How Would a Pedestrian Link Between Balboa Park and downtown San Diego Benefit Our Community?


Manage episode 290194914 series 2899812
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This week, Kate introduces a conversation between C-3 Board Director and Planning Professional Suchitra Lukes, Mike Stepner, and Vicki Estrada from June 23, 2020. The three discuss the long-sought vision for a pedestrian link between Balboa Park and downtown San Diego. Vicki and Mike are well-known thought leaders and are involved in the San Diego Commons effort that includes a movement to “Heal the Gash” and connect downtown to Balboa Park and the Waterfront. They discuss how the community plan would positively impact the environment, reconnect divided communities, and why the post-pandemic world may be the best time for this. Mike and Vicki also talk about the challenges and setbacks with Heal the Gash, and how the community can get involved and support this initiative.


[1:23] Mike and Vicki introduce themselves and their passion for the San Diego Commons Effort and the Heal The Gash community plan. They talk about running this non-profit organization, and how it’s time to stop talking and take action towards reconnecting communities and connecting Balboa Park to downtown.

[3:48] They address how the I-5 Freeway got built through downtown San Diego in the first place, and whether it would have been better along the waterfront. From an infrastructure standpoint, did we really need a freeway to continue all the way through?

[6:14] We have been talking about Healing the Gash ever since the I-5 was moved to its current location in the 1960s. Looking at how other cities address this issue has been a great help and two that Mike and Vicki cite as models include Hollywood Central Park in Los Angeles and the Freeway Park in Seattle.

[9:32] The pandemic has shown us that we don’t need wider lanes. What we need is easier access and more space for public parks and spaces.

[10:30] The Heal the Gash effort has almost doubled in size, and Mike and Vicki appreciate the commitment and dedication of community advocates.

[12:10] Healing the Gash is also a way to desegregate the community, which we need more than ever, considering the current issues of social unrest and injustice.

[14:09] Mike and Vicki explain why we have to do an Environmental Impact Report if it’s an environmentally positive project, and how the backing and involvement of CalTrans is both needed and appreciated.

[17:06] It takes a lot of community support, and requires a support system to get it done in a timely fashion.

[17:42] To be fully on board, community members need to see that the benefits of connectivity and walkability outweigh the cost needed to make it happen.

[24:55] We have not taken advantage of the canyons the way we could have, and San Diego has so many special streets and areas that could be better utilized.

About C-3

In its 60 years of existence, Citizens Coordinate for Century 3 (C-3) has brought together local thought leaders from planning, design, policy, academia, community development, and more to address our region’s distinctive and pressing land use challenges. In founding C-3 almost 60 years ago, architect Lloyd Ruocco’s vision was to bring together our region’s most creative minds from the arts, sciences, academia, and government to share ideas, learn new perspectives, and build fellowship around the idea of creating livable communities.

Opportunities for Advocacy and Engagement:


San Diego Commons

Heal The Gash

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