Durable Growth

A young urbanist in San Clemente

San Clemente pier

San Clemente pier

During successive summers in the early 1960s, my parents arranged the weekly rental of an apartment in San Clemente, north of San Diego.  (This would have been a decade before Richard Nixon made San Clemente famous for the “Western White House”.)

The apartment was a short block uphill from the waterfront with its pier and sandy beach.  At the foot of the dirt path that led to the ocean was a variety store where I could buy, in no particular order, comic books, ice cream cones, and live bait.  For a nine-year-old boy, it was pretty much all that was required for a week at the beach.

I recently visited San Clemente.  The waterfront was much the same, the store remained open, and even the dirt path survived.  Other than an apparent municipal dictate to paint all the buildings Positano white, the neighborhood looked remarkably unchanged since I last spent a week there in 1962.

I mention this because those weeks were the first time in my life when I was able to acquire the supplies of daily life within a short walk of my front door.  To my young mind, I thought it was a great arrangement, although probably something that could only be experienced during vacation.  Pedestrian access to shopping certainly couldn’t be a part of daily life.  It was probably a common belief among the suburban youths of my era.

Dirt path

Dirt path

Indeed, except for my years at Cal, several years in Seattle, and my last eight years in the North Bay, I’ve not lived within a quarter-mile of retail.  Luckily, we seem to be slowly moving in a direction that will ensure that future generations aren’t similarly deprived.

To my regret, I didn’t step into the San Clemente store during my recent visit.  Not needing comic books, ice cream cones, or live bait, I didn’t see the need.  I probably should have, but I fear that I might have been disappointed.  Perhaps none of those items remain in stock, having been displaced by designer sunglasses and souvenir polo shirts.   If so, the young boys visiting San Clemente in 2013 don’t know what they’re missing.

White-painted San Clemente building

White-painted San Clemente building

Scheduling Notes

Petaluma Urban has a couple of approaching activities.  On Tuesday, July 9, we’ll hold our monthly meeting.  We’ll convene at the Aqus Café in Petaluma at 5:30pm and will discuss “The Smart Growth Manual”.

Then, on Saturday, July 13, we’ll tour TOD developments on the BART system.

Several other activities are also in the planning stages.  If you’d like further information, please email me.  I can include you on the email list for meeting information.

I need to brag briefly about Urban Chat.  We began our monthly meetings little more than a year ago.  We’ve grown to a dedicated cadre of about a dozen.  I’d like to attract more folks, but we’ve made a nice start.

More importantly, we’re starting to take a role in Petaluma governance.  Last evening, three members of Urban Chat were appointed to the Recreation, Music, and Park Commission.  Barely twelve months old and we’re already on the edge of a Brown Act violation.

Two Urban Chat participants also applied for the Planning Commission.  Neither secured one of the highly sought-after appointments, but both received votes and finished among the top eight out of seventeen applicants.

Petaluma Urban Chat seems to be on a good path.

As always, your questions or comments will be appreciated.  Please comment below or email me.  And thanks for reading. – Dave Alden (davealden53@comcast.net)

Written by Dave Alden

Dave Alden

Dave Alden is a Registered Civil Engineer. A University of California graduate, he has worked on energy and land-use projects in California, Oregon, and Washington. He was also the president of a minor league baseball team for two seasons. He lives on the west side of Petaluma with his wife and two dogs. The blog that he writes can be found at http://northbaydesignkit.blogspot.com.

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