By Steve Rodriguez
Forget it, my fellow Mission Valley residents. There’s no turning back! You’ve seen the development plans in the news. Accordingly, I suggest you control your pangs of nostalgia, for progress is coming whether you like or not.
Face the facts: If real estate developers have their way (and they always do), Mission Valley is on course to become much busier and hectic than it is today. We will soon be so packed with people, condos, apartments, offices, stores and roads that the words “Have a dense day” will inevitably become our signature greeting. And I say that’s a good thing because all this development suggests a surefire way for little ol’ Mission Valley to attain the ranks of some of the more “famous” places on earth.
The degree of recent residential and commercial construction is no secret to anyone who has trudged their way through Mission Valley roads. Ongoing construction of new communities at the sprawling Civita development off Friars Road, as well as the near-completed construction of the Millennium Mission project at Camino de la Reina will continue to add to the population of our fine valley. Of course, plans for other mega projects like Riverwalk (where the golf course is currently located) and either the SDSU or SoccerCity stadium projects for the other end of the valley continue to be debated. But make no mistake about it — once the details are worked out, those plans for development will eventually come to fruition. And when they do, you can rest easy that the scale of Mission Valley density will grow to epic proportions.
City planners insist all plans for development reflect well-thought-out intentions — the last thing these wise men and women want is for such growth to outpace infrastructure needs. They want to make sure this so-called “densification” of Mission Valley does not adversely impact traffic, the river or other environmental concerns. Under such circumstances, is there any need to worry that the population of Mission Valley will grow from its current 12,500 residents to a projected 35,500 in a few years?
I say no; stop your worrying! In fact, I suggest we take a different tack altogether. I say we throw caution to the wind and just go for it. Let’s not worry about traffic, the river or other environmental concerns. I contend that if we intensify our efforts at development, we can soon take our rightful place as one of the densest places on earth.
Currently, communities like the slums of Mumbai, Bangladesh, and Nairobi rank as the densest places on earth in terms of population. In my opinion, with a little bit more effort, we, too, can join their lofty ranks. Build some more apartments; build some more condos. Let’s not just settle for being a part of America’s Finest City. Let’s think exclusive world-class status for Mission Valley! When people look on the internet to find a list of the world’s densest places, I want Mission Valley’s name to appear on their screen. Let’s out-densify Mumbai! Then, and only then, will we attain the fame we truly deserve.
I occasionally run into longtime San Diego residents who regale me with stories of how it used to be here back in the 1950s. Engage them in conversation about the olden days and they will in all likelihood make the following nostalgic remark, “I remember when Mission Valley was nothing but dairy farms.”
When talking with younger residents, that same desire for nostalgia flares up, but in a more scaled-down version. They will say such things as, “I remember back in the day when Mission Valley had only three Starbucks.”
In the future, however, I hope we can wax nostalgic by saying things like, “Remember when we trailed the poor favelas of Rio de Janero in the rankings of the world’s densest places?” Or, “Remember when Manila thought they were denser than us? Ha! We showed them, didn’t we?”
Take my advice. Let’s keep building. Make us proud.
And as we will surely say in the future: “Have a dense day, y’all.”
— Steve Rodriguez is a high school teacher, writer, and local resident. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.