San Diego City Plan: An Evaluation of Recreation
City planning is an important aspect in any urban development since it offers a blue print for growth. The city of San Diego, like any other development conscious city, has its general plan for projected growth. According to the city’s planning department, this general plan is the city’s constitution for positive growth in the coming years. Developed to cover a period of two years, the general plan covers ten key elements, each of which contributes distinctively to the city’s growth. The city requires a plan which can cater for the projected population growth rate over the years. The key theme of the general plan is sustainability, a subject which is ardently addressed throughout all the elements of the plan. The city centers its development plans for the future on the key issue of preventing climate change by focusing on action that is driven by sustainability. The latest update of the general plan dates back to 2015 and includes amendments made in various key elements in 2008, 2010 and 2012. It is set to be reviewed again later in 2016. This update includes key recommendations in areas such as recreation, noise, and economy among others. The present evaluation focuses on the recreation element in the San Diego city general plan.
The recreation element is one of the key aspects of urban planning for various reasons. According to Ward (81) recreation is a mandatory part of human life which can cause detrimental effects if not addressed. While this element does not focus much on the population growth rate due to the inclusion of foreign users, it is a key area of concern for people choosing residential areas. The City of San Diego has done an excellent work when tit comes to recreation planning. Currently, the city boasts of an all year round tourist attraction based on its wide variety of recreation facilities. The planning general plan indicates that the city is set to expand the range of recreation facilities even further towards more environmentally friendly strategies. Expanding parks to include conservation of natural environment and encouraging locals to make use of the available recreation facilities is a key step towards achieving sustainability. Some of the already existing parks such as Balboa Park have been designated into regional parks, community parks or recreation centers.
The general plan works together with the community specific urban plans. This implies that while the city planning department may not exactly reflect the needs of the local communities, their plans can fit exactly into the community plans which are fine tuned using the general plan. This collaboration between community and city plans has made it possible for the city to work towards more community specific recreation facilities. The importance of this is that local residents can get to benefit from the available natural resources in a similar manner to visitors. Richard (130) claims that exercise carried out in natural environments is more beneficial to mental health compared to exercise in other environments.
It is probably on this basis that San Diego city has laid down effective plans to expand community based recreational facilities to be more accommodative than the inner city parks and recreation centers. The updated plan for recreation clearly lays down the strategies to be used in expansion of recreational facilities as dependent on the availability of natural environments and withdrawal from the hum drum life of the city. It is possible for this to result in increased tourist influx into the city.
In addition to the need for natural environments, another important factor that the city may have considered in developing its general plan is need for using the recreation facilities for the management of urban storm water collections. This has been achieved in most of the recreation facilities closer to town centers through the incorporation of circulating water spouts. The key plans for recreation facilities in each of the areas outlines the need for a water source that can be said to be sustainable. According to Ward (92), health concerns arise due to lack of appropriate plans for controlling water and environmentally relevant diseases. Disease aversion can be achieved through encouraging people to participate in recreation activities within natural environments. The city of San Diego, through its promise of keeping resources within their natural communities has encouraged locals to be more participative in resource building through recreation.
While planning recreation facilities, another factor that has been mentioned as important towards effective plans is the impact of those centers on the economy of the urban centers as a whole. The City of San Diego recognizes the possibility of job creation, youth development and entire community development through recreation facilities. Development of parks and recreation centers in areas which have high tourist attraction potential is a key agenda of the updated general development plan for San Diego City. This implies that the city intends to expand its economy through an increase in tourist capacity by virtue of its parks and recreation centers. Stephens (4) recognizes the importance of recreation facilities in the development of city names across the globe. According to Stephens, cities can be recognized based on single recreation facilities within them which have the capacity of attracting more visitors. An example of such cities is London, whose Hyde Park has gained it global recognition. San Diego, despite being a global tourist destination is yet to achieve fame through its recreational facilities. However, the updated plan for recreation in the next two years can place the city at a significantly high position in this regard (San Diego City’s comprehensive Plan update 6).
In conclusion, city planning is an important stage in the development of any city. Effective planning is necessary for smart growth strategies to be laid down by city planners. Various key elements take centre stage in the development of city plans, each of which is driven towards encouraging visible growth and making the city a hub of activity as well as drawing visitors for purposes of building stronger tourism access bases. In the city of San Diego, effective planning has been used to lay down strategies in key elements such as economy, recreation, noise and transport among others. Each of these elements is set to grow through sustainable strategies such as those aimed at supporting environmental management. Recreation, as an element of the general plan has been centered around the importance of tourism to the economy of the city, with expansion focusing on the key community areas which offer natural environments in the recreation facilities. The plan can therefore be said to be effective in maintaining sustainability as is the theme of the city’s planning department and has considered all the factors laid down for guiding development of recreational facilities in urban centers.
Catherine Ward. Activity, exercise and the planning and design of outdoor spaces. Journal of Environmental Psychology 34, (2013):79-96
Sandiego City’s Comprehensive Plan Update. Publication. Department of Planning. City of San Diego, April. 2016. Web. www.sandiego.gov/planning/genplan
Mitchell Richard. Is physical activity in natural environmental better for mental health than physical activity in other environments? Social Science and Medicine 91, (2013): 130-134.
Ric Stephens. The Periodic table of city planning elements. The Planetizen, 2010. Web.