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Martin O. Stern: Better Land Use

TRAFFIC: WHERE WILL IT GO? Traffic in San Diego County is getting worse. But how much worse? And, more importantly, how bad will it get? The Times examines these questions, focusing on growth, alternatives to automobiles and plans for the future. Last of four parts.

September 03, 1986

Martin O. Stern, a professor of urban planning at UC San Diego, believes creative land-use policies hold the greatest potential for battling traffic gridlock:

"We need better, more novel ways of arranging land uses. The question is: To what extent can people live closer to work? We need to bunch living places together, and work places together, so we can have more effective public transportation between the two."

He maintains that it is not too late for San Diego regional planners to work harder at concentrating clusters of residential areas near clusters of industrial parks. North County, for example, has prime territory for such an experiment.

Stern is critical of the fact that even the design of condominium and apartment complexes encourages the use of automobiles:

"They'll have pedestrian paths to and from the swimming pool and the Jacuzzis but then they put fences and walls around the outside of the development so if you want to visit a friend down the street or go to the market around the corner, you're more apt to drive there than to walk there.

"We need to get used to the idea of walking. People assume that pedestrians are loiterers and vandals. Jogging has helped get away from that; it is more acceptable. Walking is not accepted, but if you break into a run, that's OK."

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