The Times Are a Changing

By Tony Pauker, Brookfield Homes, BIA Board of Directors
The times are a changing, or so Dylan said in 1964. Well 55 years later they still are still a changin’ and I think the changes we are seeing will be very exciting. As we look to the next decade or two I believe that our region will see an accelerated transformation that will bring great opportunities – and the expected growing pains (but those pains are for another issue). I believe we will see three major changes.

 

San Diego is already a global leader in life sciences and mobile device innovation. We can thank UCSD for being a driving force behind this. Over the next two decades I see SDSU becoming an equal partner in education and innovation that will generate generations of future science and engineering leaders, countless new startups, and high value jobs. Of equal importance we are starting to see these jobs spread further from the Torrey Mesa/I-15/Carlsbad markets. Stockdale’s bold proposal to reinvent Horton Plaza into a hub of creative office and UCSD’s extension into downtown will further propel downtown into one of the most vibrant CBD’s in the nation. And the next area of this focus? I would bet on Otay.

 

Call it density or call it attached housing, expect it throughout the county. Density on the 78 corridor is most likely to be row homes, density in North Park will probably be mid or even high rise. Other neighborhoods will see a mix. But in all cases it relates to the same desire that people want to live, work and play in an environment where one can walk, bike, scooter or drive a short distance. Sure, the single family home is here to stay, but we will see two evolutions. New SFD homes will be smaller, far more energy and maintenance efficient, and be designed to serve a broad range of life stages. Older SFD neighborhoods will still be in demand, but they too will evolve. The accessory dwelling unit (granny flat) ordinances adopted by various municipalities will add flexibility to homeowners.

 

Lastly is mobility. How this will change is a lot less clear to me, but getting around will be different. It seems there are three hopefully symbiotic changes a foot. The dockless bike/scooter debate seems very silly. The reality is that venture capital companies are not pouring billions of dollars into these technologies for sport. They are spending billions because people love the idea. Let’s not let knee-jerk regulation impact the market. I have found the scooters a great way to go short trips – they are not just for tourists (but do wear a helmet). The mid-coast trolley should help promote use of rail and create mini-villages. The question is how will it play out with the next innovation. Driverless cars. I do not envision ever owning a driverless car. I see owning a subscription to Apple/Ford/Google/Tesla/etc. where one day I have a little car taking me to work and on Saturday a driverless pickup to go to the beach with the family. At night the cars go back to their home – likely parking garages of offices and other commercial that have been re-imagined as the service hubs for this industry. My garage can be converted into an office, studio or accessory dwelling unit. Public and private transportation will be transformed. The winners will be those companies who can find a mass market solution to harness this technology. The losers? Maybe Porsche – a driverless Porsche does not sound too fun to me – at least without Dramamine.