City Heights Urban Village

4380 Landis Street
San Diego, CA

Submitted by: Carol Drummond

City Heights Urban Village is located in the mid-city section of San Diego, the seventh largest city in the nation.

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Why It Works

Thousands of people use the services available that are part of Urban Village in City Heights, every day. Many are youth who would otherwise have no place to play and study. Prior to the development of Urban Village in City Heights, there were virtually no recreational or educational opportunities in this community. Now that has changed.

A gymnasium across the street from the library offers basketball, volleyball, and table tennis. Housed in the same building, there is a mid city police substation. It is not uncommon to see police officers off-duty "shooting hoops" with youth from the community. It was this combination site that was the start of Urban Village in City Heights. The building opened in 1996 and in 1997 crime had dropped by more than six percent in the area. Overall crime in the area continues to decrease today. Next to the gymnasium is a recently completed community college continuing education center which provides adults an opportunity to explore higher learning.

What Makes City Heights Urban Village a Great Place?

Urban Village is an exciting redevelopment project that brings together important city services to the thousands of people that live and work in City Heights. It uses a pedestrian-friendly town square model with emphasis on community involvement through recreation and education. A "town within a town" is how it is often described, because it has proven to effectively and efficiently serve a multi-ethnic area of San Diego. The free and reduced priced programs that are offered at the recreation center, the library, the community college continuing education center and the outdoor amphitheater bring thousands of people together to share an interest in learning and in leisure. City Heights Urban Village is accessible by San Diego buses.

City Heights residents have been part of the Urban Village concept and design from the very beginning. In a neighborhood dominated by multiple units (apartments), there was a strong desire for open space and for architecture that was inviting rather than intimidating. City employees including park and recreation grounds maintenance workers and police officers are committed to keeping the Urban Village area both clean and free of crime. Parking is limited at the library, at the recreation center and at the gymnasium; however that has not presented a problem since most people using these facilities are walking to and from them, from their homes or businesses.

There is a swim center with pools for adults and small children, there are children's tot lots, tennis courts, turfed playing fields for soccer and softball, and a 8,800 square foot recreation center complete with rooms large enough for dances, martial arts classes, homework clubs and meeting rooms.
There is a library complex that is home to a library, a community service center, a Head Start Program and the office of the City Heights Town Council. The library houses 53,000 volumes of books and other reading materials that serve a multi-ethnic community. There is also access to the World Wide Web on one of the several computers located in the library, and people can listen to compact discs or view videos in an audio visual room. There are also two seminar rooms and a large community meeting room. In between the recreation center and the library, there is a performance annex with an outdoor stage that provides music and other forms of entertainment to the public for free.

City Heights is home to an incredibly diverse ethnic population and it is estimated that more than 100 languages and dialects are spoken among the more than 70,000 people living in the community. Urban Village, by design, breaks down barriers to the differences that are obvious in this area and draws attention to the similar needs and wants of the people in City Heights. Urban Village has become a model for other densely populated areas of large cities based on its success in enriching the lives of children, families and individuals through city and community resources including quality parks and programs.

History & Background

The concept behind an "Urban Village" is based on an effort to reduce crime in a densely populated area by combining police, recreation, education and civic activities; and offering them all in one place, taking into consideration what the residents and merchants in the area want most.

The city facilities in Urban Village cost more than $24 million to build with funding coming from a variety of sources including private donations, the State and Federal government, community development block grants and an economic development incentive grant. (More is available via fax or U.S. mail if so desired.)

Contact Info:

Kevin Wiggins, City Heights Recreation Center Director: 619-641-6125

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