The project's inherent fleetingness is, in part, what sold city officials. "Communities get kind of scared when they have this idea that you're going to build something that's experimental," and that's especially true of San Diego, Loewenstein says. Cities like Portland and San Francisco are more comfortable with taking planning risks, he adds. "I think San Diego is trying to transition into being the kind of world-class destination that they claim it is."
The city and its former planning director, Bill Fulton, parted ways this summer. Fulton, now at Rice University, agrees that San Diego's planning ethos hasn't always been progressive.