The Making of Place: Solana Beach

UCSD-TV presents a fascinating look at the process of urban planning through the lens of Solana Beach, a small coastal city with big dreams, big plans and big challenges. We asked producer Shannon Bradley to give us a bit of background on this intriguing documentary.

UCSD-TV: What was the impetus for this program?

SHANNON BRADLEY: Early in 2006, Edie Munk and I presented a UCSD-TV program featuring Fred Kent to a SANDAG meeting that included Lesa Heebner, then deputy mayor of Solana Beach. She was impressed by the ideas of New York-based Kent and wanted to invite him to evaluate the “place-making” efforts then underway in Solana Beach. We thought that would make an excellent program – showing Kent reacting to various sites in Solana Beach and then conducting a workshop with residents to create vibrant, eclectic public spaces.

UCSD-TV: What’s it about?

SB: In a word? Parking! Well, it’s obviously about more than that but that’s the recurrent tension in the piece. How much value to give parking versus place-making, which Kent argues is about putting people first.

UCSD-TV: What was your biggest challenge in producing this documentary?

SB: When I started reporting this story, it became clear that Solana Beach was dealing with serious issues in urban planning – namely a ballot initiative to limit the size of homes in certain neighborhoods and Cedros Crossing, the proposed development around the Solana Beach train station. I felt we could not, in good conscience, do a program that just focused on Fred Kent’s community-building exercises without addressing these contentious issues.

UCSD-TV: Who is featured in the documentary?

SB: Fred Kent, Mayor Lesa Heebner and the Solana Beach City Council, the engaged citizens of Solana Beach whom Kent affectionately calls the “zealous nuts,” and Greg Shannon, the developer of Cedros Crossing.

UCSD-TV: What lessons can other communities take from the story of Solana Beach?

SB: The issues covered here are common to many of California’s coastal communities – how to accommodate growth while preserving neighborhood character and how to create walkable, livable communities. Kent’s answer is simple: design for people, not cars. And he offers plenty of examples on how to do that. But as you’ll see here, that’s easier said than done. Kent talks about building for a future that will be less reliant on cars. And though the people we featured respond favorably to Kent’s concepts in theory, the reality is that planners face enormous pressure today to provide more parking, everywhere, even at the expense of the making of place.

From left: City Council Members Mike Nichols, Dave Roberts, Tom Campbell, Joe Kellegian and Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner at the dedication of Fletcher Cove.
(June 16, 2007)
Fred Kent and Lesa Heebner tour Solana Beach on foot.
(August 16, 2006)
Fred Kent (center) and Solana Beach community members assess the place-making possibilities at the "Cedros Gap" on Cedros Avenue.
(March 17, 2007)
Fred Kent in the UCSD-TV studio.
(August 17, 2007)
Producer Shannon Bradley
with developer Greg Shannon
in the UCSD-TV studio.

(July 25, 2007)
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