San Diego Local Community News

By Michael Price
You wouldn’t know it from its bone- dry state during most of the year, but San Diego’s Mission Valley is a floodplain. Flooding is a perennial problem for SDCCU Stadium, previously known as Qualcomm Stadium, which was built in 1967 at the convergence of the San Diego River and Murphy Canyon Creek. Thanks to improper planning and rerouting of existing waterways, when big storms roll through, the San Diego River eagerly jumps its banks and the stadium’s enormous parking lot becomes a blacktop lake surrounding an inundated playing field.
While occasional floods are a natural part of the valley ecosystem, they need not be so destructive or disruptive, said Gordon Carrier of the architecture firm Carrier Johnson + Culture, principal architect for San Diego State University’s Mission Valley campus plan. By incorporating a new, thoughtfully designed and implemented river park at the heart of the proposed campus— nearly 90 acres of which is designated for open space—the university could better manage flooding, provide critical habitat space for wildlife, and connect the Mission Valley community to a beautiful but underutilized resource.
“We’re looking to pull green space from the river’s ecosystem into the site,” Carrier said. “If open space is done right, it can inspire thoughtful development, which sets the tone for the whole site. There are few, if any, opportunities to influence a region like this plan can influence San Diego. Mission Valley is really the epicenter of the entire community, and it’s immensely important to get it right.”
The river park contains nearly six miles of hike and bike trails that encircle the proposed campus, wind through the planned neighborhood and connect the river to other trails throughout the region. The goal, said Martin Flores, director of landscape architecture and urban planning for Carrier Johnson + Culture, is for the river park to provide a connection between the community and the river that has never really existed before.
“We want to open the river up to the community, to retell the story of the river,” he said. “Every time I ride the trolley over the river now, I look down and imagine what it could be. I think it’s going to generate a lot more excitement about the river” said site plan consultant John Kratzer.

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