Letter to the editor: Christianson supports a vibrant downtown

May 25, 2013
David Brodie

David Brodie


I, David Brodie, as a downtown urban designer, feel I must take a stand on the following issue. The success of our downtown is largely dependent on its character and vitality. If there is no character and vitality then there is no significant draw for people of all ages to come downtown.

The character and vitality of a downtown depends on its proportional distribution of uses. This particularly includes maintaining representation of “mom and pop” stores which provide locally-sourced (and therefore sustainable) goods and services. A worrisome situation in our downtown is the ever-increasing number of corporate stores as well as eating and drinking establishments. This is causing an imbalance in the ideal mix of land uses.

It would seem that the different groups and individuals who exercise considerable influence over the survival of our downtown do not understand this basic tenet. Included among these groups are the City Council, Downtown Business Association and the Chamber of Commerce.

Surprisingly, I have only heard one individual person making any kind of comment that recognizes this important principle. This person is Carlyn Christianson. I and Save Our Downtown support Carlyn Christianson for City Council because she has gone on record supporting “a vibrant downtown which depends on a mix of businesses that serve the whole community.”

Carlyn is also an advocate of providing more housing downtown and will work toward insuring that downtown becomes a suitable environment for downtown residents. I and Save Our Downtown envision that she will lead the Council and our City in growing a dynamic, vital and long lasting downtown.

David Brodie was a Professor in the Architecture Department at UC Berkeley from 1963 to 1970. David was hired to teach Architecture and City and Regional Planning at Cal Poly in 1970 and retired in 2004. He has been a guest lecturer at universities around the world and has, since his retirement, been actively involved in civic affairs.





Mr. Brodie lives in an academic vacuum and has absolutely no private experience referenced . So to create his designed “ideal mix” of businesses we do what? Tax bars, and restaurants and use the money to subsidized rents for the businesses in his “ideal mix” that are not self-sustaining?


Isn’t that the democratic way, redistribute the wealth and success of the doers to the losers. It use to be that people wanted what other people had and would work hard to get it. Now, people just want what you have.


What Brodie seems to be saying is that downtown needs to be “managed” by experts and academics, rather than be allowed to grow/morph organically.

Probably, there is a little truth in what he says.

But if downtown growth/management is the litmus issue, I strongly prefer someone with time in the trenches downtown than ideas that come from an ivory tower. Paul Brown has been there MAKING DOWNTOWN VIBRANT. What’s on Christianson’s résumé?


I know this is picky, but in the academic world, it’s big. Mr. Brodie got his master’s degree from Berkeley in 1964. He was most likely a lecturer/instructor–not a Professor by 1970. Becoming a Professor in 6 years requires going through the ranks (Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor) at warp speed.

On the other hand, he is a Professor Emeritus at Cal Poly, meaning that he was a Professor (not a lecturer/instructor) here.


Citizen says: “I know this is picky,”

Yes, attacking the messenger is what it is called, to cast doubt on the message.


Yeah, but if you’re relying on your “professional opinion” rather than making a reasoned argument your credentials are fair game.


No, if you comment and it is all about the author and not the subject being discussed it’s a personal attack by anonymous cowards.

Going on about someones degree in 1964 to dis his writing on a current day subject is an ad hominem attack period.


Except the subject at hand is the author’s “professional opinion” – thus, both his opinion and professional expertise (or lack of) is fair game. It is not like we’re calling him a bad person, I’m sure he is not! We’re just evaluating his own words at their face value.


It’s simple. If you like Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson, you’re going to love Carilyn Christianson. If not, vote for Paul Brown.

Ted Slanders


Instead of your continued rhetoric on the Hill, Gibson, Chrisianson trilogy, simply explain the reason why you feel this way with facts. Facts of the matter far outweigh assertions, don’ t you think? If not, you should.


Here ya go, here’s your facts. Christiansen is Adam Hill’s planning commissioner. So I’m not the biggest Paul Brown fan but I’ll take him over Adam Hill any day of the week. The “left” cannot continue to be represented by Hill, Marx and Christiansen. In the absence of Kevin Rice, or preferably, ME, I gotta go with Downtown Brown. I gotta think he’s maturing. Is Adam Hill?


I will not vote for Christiansen. I may hold my nose and vote for Brown if he is persuasive enough. Otherwise it’s Donald Hedrick or use my ballot to light the BBQ (same thing).


Pretty much how I feel, too. My wife and I cast our votes for Don.


The fact is that many people who don’t particularly like Adam HIll do very much like and support Christianson.


Mr. Brodie neglects to say in his opinion that he is a strong supporter of the local Democratic Committee which is fully supporting Christianson; he also neglected to state that he was a retired Cal Poly professor who has had nothing to do with designing the SLO downtown area; he also neglected to state that while Christianson is employed she has never run a local downtown business although that is he logic for supporting her (” maintaining representation of “mom and pop” stores which provide locally-sourced (and therefore sustainable) goods and services”) and yet fails to mention Mr. Brown had a very successful and respected downtown business for years.

Let’s just honest, Mr. Brodie, this is another endorsement by the Democratic Party for the controlling seat on the City Council. “Mom and Pop” stores are going to the wayside because the controlling Democrats have regulated and taxed them to death. You are correct about one statement, the corporate power is controlling the enterprise in our City, County, State and Federally because they can not compete with the likes of you and your unions, taxes, regulations and control.


Mr. Brodie loves to regale in pompous self-importance and tries to tell everyone else what to do from his ivory tower and his British (?) accent. In the meantime, he maintains his properties next to downtown in deplorable condition and are a blight to look at. A typical left wing hypocrite.


Ah an anonymous coward attacking someone with the stones to put his name to his opinion.

The fact of your calling someone out for “pompous self-importance” and his accent?

A typical hypocrite.


Anonymous Kettle-you are obviously confused. The hypocrite is one who expounds to others his ideas of what the ideal downtown should be yet maintains his personal part of the downtown area (i.e. his properties) in a blighted condition. He obviously is saying one thing and doing another.


Hiya Flytrap.

You have a problem with the bloody Brits and the Queens English. I am sure Master Brodie is a delightful enough Chap. Hurray, Toodle Pip, Cheerio…


Cal Poly’s contribution — outside of sucking the life out of local businesses through competition — has only been through providing our communities with politicians and hot air… or am I repeating myself?


As much as I dislike the Cal Poly “student culture” and all it brings both good and bad, isn’t it true that “Cal Poly’s contribution” is rather significant in terms of spending on the students behalf?

It seems to me that there is a fiscal co-dependency that helps support this town.


You are correct about the students impact on the City, both good and bad. They bring dollars to the City and then the City gets to spend them on extra public safety, high crime and party prevention, lower property values, and all the other issues kids contribute during the college years. Cal Poly population overall is terrific for this whole County but I don’t think it is a big win anymore than tourism. Both bring good and bad elements but the best that can be said it they provide jobs and jobs create communities.

But, what does your statement have to do with a retired professor recommending a council candidate? I’m sorry, but I did not catch the connection.


and your wife’s very generous pension…hypocrite.


I seem to recall some local startups that wouldn’t have been created if it wasn’t for CalPoly. Some have been very successful. Beyond that, there are many successful businesses started by Poly grads.

For example, a perennial favorite of mine: “Roger’s Sour Grapes”

It’s not only a business, it’s a way of life.


Our town needs balanced, diverse leadership. Brown helps achieve that. Voting for Christianson is empowering Marx.


Unfortunately, you’re right. I still contemplate leading a massive grass roots effort to elect Hedrick (do not know the man) based on the un-palateability of the other candidates but don’t have the time. I am all about diversity so I’ll probably vote for Brown.


…as a downtown urban designer… followed by …a professor from 1963 to …2004 – I fail to see how being a professor makes you an actual “downtown urban designer” (whatever that is). Did Mr. Brodie design SLO’s downtown? Which downtown did Mr. Brodie actually design?

There are a lot of professors at the CAED who are great at being professors… I’d never hire them for anything else, really.

…and what a surprise, the Berkley grad who’s hidden in academia his whole life supports the DCC’s candidate. I’m stunned. No, really. How about you try to RUN a “mom and pop” store before saying we need more. This is why there’s the academic world, and the professional world. Seems never the two shall meet, sometimes.

I’ve spoken with both candidates (all three, actually – I do like Don, as a person, better) but I think Brown, apart from his troubled personal past, is a better candidate. Just slightly… but still did not vote for him.

For me, it came down to: Vote for the person with the checkered past, or the person with the checkered future. I voted for Don, in the end. I know I’ll be in the minority, and the powers that be will never let a “residentially-challenged” person hold office. I’m confident of that.


Don maybe a better person, but he is not going to win. I was going to throw Don a bone as well but given the reviled-Tribune’s endorsement and Christiansen’s incredibly condescending mannerisms I may HAVE, not want, to vote for Brown.


When criticizing “Berkeley-this” or “Berkeley-that”, try to not spell it “Berkley”. They’re going to dismiss you as unenlightened in any case, don’t let them toss in illiterate as well (I myself am NOT illiterate, my parents were married for years before I was born).


Holy crap, you’re right! I misspelled berzerkEley! Disregard my entire post, then!