Today’s news and notes includes new tenants for the historic B&M building, the Asparagus Festival’s attendance drop, and another big city that may be forced into the bankruptcy club with Stockton. Happy bike to work week!
Downtown block welcomes two new neighbors
The block between Dean DeCarli Square and the Ed Coy Garage is becoming quite the hub of activity. Already home to the City Centre Cineplex and various attached restaurants, the block welcomed a couple of new tenants over the past few weeks and will be welcoming more in the not-so-distant future. Continue reading
Someone once said that if you don’t have critics, you’re not doing something worthwhile. Lucky for me, there are plenty of skeptics who disagree with the new urbanist concepts I espouse here weekly at SCL. Enter Joel Kotkin, noted writer and city nay-sayer. Kotkin is one of the loudest critics of smart growth, believing that cities focusing growth inward do not perform as well as their sprawling counterparts. While I usually disagree with Kotkin, I appreciate that the Smart Growth movement has critics with reasonable arguments, forcing us to validate our views. There are certainly debates to be had about the best policies for growth and development and I am happy to be a part of that debate. That being said, Kotkin’s recent article in the Daily Beast, titled “The Triumph of Suburbia: Despite Downtown Hype, Americans Choose Sprawl,” is laughable. Continue reading
Last week, the Central Valley Business Journal wrote about the state of cycling in the region. The article noted that despite the valley’s favorable terrain and Mediterranean climate, less than one percent of commuting trips are made via bicycle. This is not surprising, as Central Valley cities have been planned around the car with little regard for walking or biking. In other cities, biking has become immensely popular, not just as a commuting choice, but as a better way to enjoy everyday activities. Sadly, Stockton continues to be dominated by the car. Most people who ride bikes in Stockton are those who do not have access to an automobile. This has to change, and not because it’s good for the environment (though it is), or because there are too many cars (also true), but because there are legitimate economic reasons for Stockton to embrace biking. Continue reading
During his State of the Union speech in February, President Obama announced plans to assist the country’s most economically depressed cities. This proclamation sparked pleas from people such as Mike Fitzgerald and Congressman Jerry McNerney for the President to consider Stockton’s troubles. Moored in bankruptcy, high crime rates and crushing unemployment, it would be difficult to justify Stockton’s exclusion from any city-based assistance initiative. Now, we finally know what type of aid could be coming our way as the administration unveiled the specifics of their plan last week. Continue reading
Today’s installment includes a nod to the Stockton Police Department’s social media prowess, Stockton’s population growth, falling rates of home ownership, and an update on SCL’s Asparagus Festival location poll.
If Stockton is so miserable, why is our population growing?
The State of California released their population updates for 2012, and despite all the bad press, Stockton keeps growing. As of January 1st, 296,444 people call Stockton home, making us the 13th largest city in the state (though if you count the unincorporated areas within the city, we are closer to 320,000). Overall, Stockton grew by .06% over 2011, which is pretty close to the statewide average of .08% and comparable to other Central Valley cities such as Sacramento (.07%) and Fresno (.09%). While this growth is modest, it is also telling. There were 37 cities in California that actually saw a population decline, but despite our issues here in Stockton, we continue to gain residents at a respectable clip. Continue reading
The good people over at the Central Valley Business Journal let me write another column for them in their May issue. This time, I discus how city and economic development officials can attract businesses by providing walkable communities for their young and educated workforces. More and more companies are abandoning suburban office parks in favor of urban areas, and Stockton should take advantage of this migration. Click on the link below to give it a read!
-David Continue reading
This month, residents along Stockton’s Smith Canal face a tough choice: pay extra for a canal head gate to protect against rising water or continue purchasing costly flood insurance. According to FEMA, these residents live in a flood zone (despite the fact that Smith Canal has never flooded) and need to protect themselves. Because we are so flood prone in the Central Valley (though, thankfully, not recently), there is always a healthy debate on the best way to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, this debate is always centered on levees and insurance, ignoring that fact that the valley’s rapid urbanization contributes to increased water runoff. In short: Sprawl makes flooding worse, but is usually passed over when discussing flood preparedness. Continue reading
This weekend, over 100,000 people will fill Downtown Stockton to take part in the city’s most cherished tradition: The Asparagus Festival. Patrons will enjoy live bands, various activities, plenty of spirits, and, of course, copious amounts of asparagus prepared in an assortment of ways. Sadly, this may be the last time the festival will be held in downtown as officials are considering a move to the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds.
Three separate sources have confirmed with SCL that festival officials may move the event from Downtown Stockton to the fairgrounds starting in 2014. Moreover, Asparagus Festival officials acknowledged on their Facebook page that no decision had been made on whether or not the festival will remain at its current location. Continue reading
Last year, I wrote about the effect that planning can have on crime, noting that a well-planned city or community can have a direct affect on public safety. Even more recently, I have mused about how crime seems to revolve around Stockton’s big box retailers, namely Walmart. Probably not coincidentally, some new research has emerged shedding even more light on these topics explaining how strip-mall development may be unnecessarily taxing our already razor thin public safety system. Continue reading
In recent months, Central Valley housing prices have rapidly improved. In particular, Stockton has posted double-digit percentage increases in home prices over last year, better than the national average. However, new research I have done with SCL shows that Stockton’s housing market appears to be heavily driven by investors, the majority of which reside outside of the city.
Over the last six months, 46% of homes sold in Stockton were purchased by investors, while 54% were purchased by owner-occupants. Of investor purchases, 59% list tax addresses in a city other than Stockton. This analysis was conducted by assessing nearly 2,000 residential, one-house lot sales in Stockton between October 2012 and the first week of April, 2013 using data from Metrolist.