AIASD Member News: Jonathan Segal, FAIA featured in San Diego Magazine’s “17 Big Ideas for 2017”
17 Big Ideas for 2017: From blue technology to workforce housing to social innovation, San Diego surpasses major hubs around the country
By Erin Meanley Glenny with Kimberly Cunningham and Ann Wycoff | Photography by Jay Reilly
Let’s make it possible to live in Little Italy for $1,500 per month.
Jonathan Segal, FAIA, Architect and Developer
Architect Jonathan Segal, the brains behind the North Parker and Hillcrest’s Mr. Robinson building, wants more “efficiency unit lofts,” a sexier term for workforce housing (not to be confused with affordable housing). The building at Columbia and Cedar—which he hopes to get approval on early this year and move-in ready within six months—would have 35 600-square-foot units, each with built-in cabinetry and a fold-out bed—no furniture required—and a 6 by 10′ deck.
The catch? Zero parking. He wants the bartenders and store clerks who work in Little Italy to be able to live in the same community and walk to their jobs, rather than commute in. To legally forgo parking, he’ll provide four affordable housing units ($600 per month rent). “Nine parking spaces are required for a project like this and we’re saying we want none. Zero.”
His agenda isn’t to demand people get rid of their cars. “My intention is to provide housing that hopefully, by design, will attract people that don’t have a car or that work in the area.” Not owning a car brings expenses down for both developer and tenant, in addition to being better for the environment and easing traffic. Currently, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Little Italy is $2,000, while 46 percent of millennials don’t even have a driver’s license.
Segal thinks workforce housing is the way of the future. Good candidates for this type of development are North Park, Barrio Logan, around Morena Boulevard, our university areas, and anywhere near mass transit.
“I am trying to change the planning code to allow developers to build workforce housing anywhere the zoning allows medium to high density,” he says. “I want to build workforce housing by right, with no community involvement.” But he’s facing “tremendous pushback” from the NIMBYs. “The residents don’t understand. It’s a sophisticated thing to make a city right, and leaving it up to the community doesn’t accomplish anything other than delaying a project. It’s extortion and a waste of time.”
To that end, he is educating people through his lecture series, Masters of a Generation, which raises awareness of good design in San Diego. Top architects in the nation participate; this month’s dates are January 13 and 20.