Author of Blog: Daniel Day

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

No One Lives in La Villita.

With being active and working long hours, I rarely have time to catch up on the news.  So it's sad that I came across this story from the Rivard Report only now that was written back in February.  I forgot who shared it on Facebook or who tweeted it, but I read it and I can't believe that I missed such news on La Villita.

According to the commentary quote:
"All reports concluded that re-imagining the retail mix and the quality of goods and services, improving infrastructure, programming public spaces, and better marketing were equally necessary. In short, La Villita is a historic treasure, but much is needed to bring it up to 21st century retail standards. We agree."
So the problem seems to be that not enough people are coming in.  It's walkable, it's quaint an such a nice place, so why aren't people coming in?  The answer to that isn't because there's no coffee shop with wifi, it is because there's no people living there.  Now I'm not saying destroy a few historic buildings and build a apartment complex, I'm saying that no body lives there and we're currently treating it like a suburban mall.  So like every other suburban malls, it has a bunch of vacancies and eventually even the kiddos stop hanging out and the mall closes.  You can point to the success of North Star and Wonderland, but those are the exceptions, not the rule.

As you look on Google Maps, (Image 47-1) you see an area surrounded by parking lots, those dead areas where we store our motor vehicles.  This is why they're referred to as Parking Craters by advocates like me, because they're a blight on the urban landscape.  This is one of the main reasons why people aren't going there. It's because it is so far away from where they live and there's these wide stroads surrounding it such as S Alamo.  As long as we have this undeveloped spaces being used as blighted storage areas called parking lots, the problems will continue with the historic downtown and downtown viability as a whole.  Because if you don't live there, you have no real vested interest in the place.  If an opportunity arises, we should look into having housing inside the historic La Villita. Parking Lots are simply areas with no activities what so ever.  This is why they're referred to as "Parking Craters."

Now some of you will say, hey, didn't you say La Villita Should be a model for the redevelopment for Hemisfair?  And that I did, but it wasn't about how La Villita was being treated, it was how there's no cars there.  There's a reason why I'm so against cars and that's because cars have more rights than you or I do when we're walking or riding our bicycles.  I don't know how many times I've heard getting hit by a car and the driver just driving off and just getting a slap of the wrist.  And if you don't believe me, Freakanomics did an episode on how to get away with murder, and it was about how you can kill with your car and get away with it.

When we built towns, we use to build them like La Villita, small places where everyone could get to where they were going by walking.  We're now coming back to this original design as we rebuild Hemisfair and redevelop areas in the inner city. La Villita has a heads start in being walkable  because the streets are too narrow for motor vehicles. As the development continues in Hemisfair, we'll see a bleeding effect from people calling Hemisfair home.  Now we don't have to destroy anything in La Villita, but we should work on making housing opportunities available with in the historic neighborhood and around it especially in those parking craters.

47-1:  A Google Satellite Map image of La villita and the surrounding area. 

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