Downtown Sacramento, CA

Downtown Sacramento is a pretty dynamic place thanks to a strong residential base, the local Civic Center, the California Capitol Park, a distinct historic district called “the Kay”, an entertainment district building around Golden 1 Arena, and the quaint and vibrant Old Sacramento along the Sacramento River. I also like how Downtown flows pretty seamlessly to surrounding urban districts located in Central Sacramento. Its nice that the inner belt wasn’t built too tight around Downtown.

The future is also bright for Downtown Sacramento as Civic leaders as moving to continue to built up its residential base, and bring more and more entertainment and retail amenities. I also like the fact that Downtown has few surface parking lots thanks to California’s strong real estate market. But there are several key urban elements Dwtn needs before it becomes a premiere US dwtn. This includes walkable K-12 schools, a university presence dwtn, more amenities for children, better affordable housing options, a stronger civic plaza marking the heart of Dwtn, a better skyline, and missing cultural and retail amenities including more theaters & art galleries, a dwtn post office, and a supermarket.

Click here to view my Downtown Sacramento album on Flickr


* Very good density for a Dwtn district.
* Great ADA and sidewalk infrastructure.
* Pockets of attractive historic architecture (i.e. Old Sacramento and Cathedral Square).
* Decent public transit access within the City especially Central Sacramento. Hit or miss with the suburbs.
* Excellent system of dedicated bike lanes across the whole region. One of the best systems in the country. While there are no dedicated bike stations, Lime provides excellent bike and scooter options throughout most of the City of Sacramento. Not so much in the suburbs.
* Very connective dwtn. Some large 1-way streets but not terrible.
* Great racial and economic diversity residing Dwtn.
* A decent # of affordable hsg units Dwtn. This is certainly reflected by dwtn’s high poverty rate among residents.
* Good number of parks anchored by the State Capitol Park. Several small/medium sized parks spread throughout Dwtn and some nice plazas at Dwtn Commons.
* Solid Dwtn cultural amenities including plenty of restaurants, bars, and cafes, several live music venues, a cineplex, i-max, and historic movie house, a good array of museums, and couple historic homes.
* Regional amenities include a major convention center and an NBA arena and plenty of government office and courts thanks to being the state capitol.
* Dwtn has solid employment # hosting about 90K. Vacant rates also appear low, albeit these are pre-covid #s.
* Solid retail amenities as well including: a couple drug stores, a Macy’s; the DOCO Shopping Mall filled with tons of food & beverage stores, an urban outfitters, and several other retail outfits; tons of boutiques & gift shops in Old Sacramento; plenty of banks and dessert joins, a couple gyms & bookstores, a dwtn library, and several churches.
* Overall very good urban massing and good tree canopy for a dwtn.


* Not my family households living dwtn but a fair amount of museums and the NBA to draw them into Dwtn.
* Really no K-12 schools within dwtn although a handful exist on the edges of dwtn.
* Certainly an expensive place to purchase a house but a decent # of moderately priced 1-bed condos selling btwn 300K-600K. 2-beds sell anywhere btwn 400K-1M, and a decent # of 3-beds selling anywhere btwn 500K-800K.
* Rentals are a similar story… studios lease in the 1Ks-mid 2Ks, 1-beds in the 2Ks, 2-beds in the 2k and low 3Ks, and 3-bed rentals are pretty rare.
* Several plazas could function as Dwtn civic plaza, but not clear and well programed heart of Sacramento.
* Skyline has some tall buildings but they are pretty bland and the skyline overall lacks cohesion and interest.
* Largely missing from Dwtn’s cultural & entertainment scene include art galleries, only a couple of theaters,
* Missing retail amenities include a supermarket, major dwtn post office.
* Dwtn is generally safe but large homeless population.
* Only a handful of small satellite colleges dwtn. Any colleges of size are at least a couple miles away.
* In-fill is a mixed bag. High rises are generally pretty bland but pretty good medium sized infill.

Southside Park- the Most Diverse Central Sacramento District

Historically Southside Park was Central City’s natural low spot and was subject to seasonal flooding. As such, development in Sacramento was at first confined to areas north of the R Street levee. But this changed with the construction of the levee at Y Street (now Broadway) opening up development south of R street starting in the late 1800s. The neighborhood welcomed those working in  nearby railyards, canneries, and lumber yards and those whose race (i.e. Portuguese, Japanese, Italians, Slavs, Africans) was not welcomed in more gentile parts of the City until the late 1960s.

This lower income/racially diverse legacy certainly carries over to the present day for Southside Park and Richmond Grove, but now as a strength as surrounding Central City districts are much less diverse and expensive. But like Central City Southside Park & Richmond Grove are solid mixed-use and walkable districts. With a density of only 7K per square mile, Southside Park could certainly use more housing and people. This would help support more retail and cultural amenities and hopefully provide more affordable housing. I’d also like to see more dense mixed-use buildings along the 15th & 16th street corridors. 

Click to view my Southside Park and Richmond Grove Albums on Flickr


* Overall very good sidewalk and curb cut infrastructure but lots of curb cuts not up to ADA standards.
* Quality historic architecture overall. In-fill is more of a mixed bag. Most of it is good urban form but plenty bland 60s & 70s design and some autocentric in-fill as well.
* Very convenient access to Dwtn, great public transit access, and a very comfortable neighborhood for all transportation moods.
* Excellent racial and economic diversity.
* Several walkable schools within the district are nearby.
* Great tree canopy.
* Southside park anchors the Southside neighborhood and is the largest park in the Central Sacramento. There are several smaller parks on the district’s northern edge.
* Quality cultural amenities including many restaurants & bars, several cafes & art galleries, a handful of live music venues, 1 community theater, a couple local museums and convenient access to Dwtn’s cultural amenities.
* Retail amenities include a Safeway, a pharmacy, several boutiques, a couple banks, several florist and dessert shops, a couple book stores, several gyms and churches and the eclectic Ice House mixed-use space.
* Good urban massing but some autocentric spots along 15th & 16th Streets.


* Density is pretty mediocre for an urban district.
* Very few households with kids but still some age diversity.
* Certainly an expensive place to purchase a house but a decent # of moderately priced 1-bed condos selling btwn 300K-600K. 2-beds sell anywhere btwn 400K-1M. 3 & 4 beds btwn 500K-1.1 M.
* Rentals are a similar story… studios lease in the 1Ks, 2-beds in the 1 & 2Ks, 2-beds in the 2 & 3Ks, and 3-beds anywhere from 3K-6K.
* Missing a public library and post office, and no department stores.
* Decent pedestrian activity but certainly less vibrant than other Central Sacramento districts.

Midtown- Sacramento’s Premiere Urban District

Midtown is another late 19th century central Sacramento neighborhood filled with lots of Victorian architecture. What elevates it above its neighbors is its strong mixed-use and destinational character. This is clearly Sacramento’s premiere urban district,  the center of Sacramento’s art, music, and cultural scene and home to many boutiques, bars, clubs, and dining options. Midtown also hosts the Lavender Heights subdistrict, Sacramento’s gay and lesbian district, located at K Street and 20th Street.

While Midtown is a solid urban neighborhood it still requires certain amenities to become a great urban district. That includes more walkable schools, more affordable housing options. greater density, and more retail amenities. Hopefully zoning restrictions can be relaxed somewhat to allow more housing to be built here. The demand to reside in Midtown is certainly present.

Click here to view my Midtown album on Flickr


* Sacramento’s densest district with nearly 11K per square mile.
* Great ADA and sidewalks infrastructure.
* Great access to Dwtn and great connectivity.
* Very walkable community and convenient among all modes of transportation.
* Good racial diversity.
* Lots of subsidized units available in Midtown.
* Good vibrancy, prob the most vibrant neighborhood in Sacramento.
* Convenient access to several nice small-medium sized parks and the California State Capitol Park is only a couple blocks west of the district’s boundaries.
* Overall very good tree canopy here.
* Midtown has a very high buzz locally in Sacramento.
* Quality architecture both historic and in-fill.
* Great cultural amenities include many restaurants, bars, & cafes, several art galleries, several live music venues & night clubs, a couple local theaters & smaller museums.
* Great retail amenities as well including a Safeway and Target Grocery store, many smaller grocerias, several drug stores, many boutiques, clothing stores, and consignment shops, a couple book stores & home good stores, several gyms and dessert shops, a major hospital, and several churches.
* Good urban form throughout. Lots of mixed-use streets especially along the western half of the district.


* Ok economic diversity and poor generational diversity. Few family households here and mostly students and young professionals.
* Okay walkable access to schools. There is a catholic grad school in the neighborhood and decent access to a couple schools in adjacent districts.
* For sale hsg is expensive. Some moderately price 1 & 2 bed condos available for 400K-600K. Most 2 & 3 -bed condos and homes selling for anywhere btwn 700K-1.3M, 4-bed 800K-1.5 M.
* Rentals are more reasonable with studios leasing in the 1Ks, 1-beds leasing btwn the low 1Ks to high 2Ks, 2-beds in the 2K & 3Ks, and limited 3-bedroom product. Good rental availability overall.
* Missing retail include a public library, post office

Boulevard Park- Hosting Sacramento’s Best Historic District

In this evaluation I included everywhere north of J Street to B street and btwn 16th Street and Highway 80.

The neighborhood was born out of the subdivision of Boulevard Park in 1905. This district was originally located on the old state fairgrounds and its racetrack. Fortunately the development of the neighborhood was early enough to produce a quality walkable district and Sacramento’s largest historic district. Most of the modern in-fill of Boulevard Park is quality urban development and the district is blessed with an attractive business district along J St and to a lesser extent along 16th Street. For a better district I’d like to see more density and mixed-use development tactfully inserted into the urban fabric as there is much demand to live here. There are also a limited number of walkable schools resulting in few households with children.

Click here to view my Boulevard Park Album on Flickr


* Excellent access to dwtn and great connectivity.
* Great array of dedicated bike lanes and there appears to be sharable scooters and bikes in the Dwtn area.
* Overall quality walkable environment.
* Decent racial diversity.
* Nice array of small/medium parks in the evaluation area. Decent access to the expansive Sutter’s Landing but its not terribly walkable from the neighborhoods.
* Very good tree canopy here.
* Some bland bldgs and autocentric infill along 16th St. but generally quality architecture with good urban form; both historic and modern in-fill.
* Overall a very safe community.
* Great ADA infrastructure and sidewalks overall.
* Good cultural amenities including several restaurants, bars, & cafes, several theater venues, several theaters, a good # of live music and night club options, and pretty good access to the museums and sport arenas in Dwtn Sacramento.
* Retail options are good as well including many boutiques, several consignment stores, a couple home good stores, a Target w/ a grocery store, several fancy grocerias, a couple drug stores, a public library, a handful of dessert shops and gyms. Macy’s and large shopping center are only 1.5 miles away.


“* Ok economic diversity and poor generational diversity. Few family households here and mostly students and young professionals.

  • Okay walkable access to schools. A couple of public elementary schools within Boulevard Park/New Park and some in adjacent districts.
  • For sale hsg is expensive. Only a handful of moderately priced 1 & 2 bed condos selling for around 500K. Limited 1-bed condos available. Most 2 & 3 -bed condos and homes selling for anywhere btwn 500K-1M, 4=bed 800K-1.5 M.
  • Rentals are more reasonable with 1-beds leasing in the 1Ks, 2-beds around 2K, and 3-beds in the 2Ks. Good abound of 1 & 2 bed product.
  • Only a handful of banks, no post office in the neighborhood”

Downtown Riverside, CA- the Cultural and Urban Hub of the Inland Emphire

I evaluated Downtown Riverside as a neighborhood because it’s really not a major job center with only about 10K jobs here. Dwtn Riverside is also a large area of about 2 square miles with about 65% of its use as traditional early 20th century residential streets.

Riverside was founded in the early 1870s and a traditional street grid was quickly laid out setting the foundation for a well connected and walkable neighborhood. Downtown Riverside is also the birthplace of the California citrus industry and home of the Mission Inn, the largest Mission Revival Style building in the United States. It also fills the roll of cultural and urban hub of the Inland Empire; a title that San Bernardino unfortunately cannot claim given how disinvested its become.  Downtown Riverside hosts a great concentration of cultural amenities, decent retail amenities, an interesting pedestrian street along a couple blocks of Main St., good public transit, quality schools, great parks, and attractive historic architecture representing well the main historic styles common in California. What Downtown Riverside primarily needs to become a great urban district is more people. Its density is only 4,500 per square mile. I was shocked at how few apartment bldgs there are dwtn. Outside of the business core, the historic residential areas are primarily single family homes. Additional density would go a long way to attract additional retail amenities and expanding the mixed-use footprint of Downtown.

Click here to view my Downtown Riverside album on Flickr


* Generally consistant sidewalks and curbs (except for western edge going up to the mountains) but curbs generally not ADA compliant.
* Great location for if you have a job in Dwtn Riverside, but only about 10K jobs there.
* Public transit is generally good Dwtn but some transit deserts in the western and northern sections.
* Several dedicated bike lanes Dwtn, including recreational trails along the river. No dedicated bike stations however.
* Great economic and racial diversity. Some households with children but nice mix of college students and young professionals.
* Several excellent parks Dwtn including the expansive Mt. Rubidoux Park and Fairmount Park on the western edge of the district, the gorgeous White Park located near the center and the pedestrian street/plaza covering several blocks of Main St.
* Decent # of schools dwtn and generally rated pretty well.
* Decent retail amenities including a couple medium sized Mexican grocery stores, several drug stores, a bookstore, plenty of quirky boutiques, antiques, home goods and gift shops, several banks, plenty of dessert stores, a dwtn post office & public library, plenty of churches, and large hospital on Dwtn’s southern border.
* Dwtn Riverside is generally considered safe but some areas are best to avoid at night.
* Overall quality historic architecture both in the Business districts (Esp. with all the Spanish based mission architecture) and in the residential neighborhoods.
* Pedestrian traffic good in the core of dwtn. Pretty sparse in the res. areas.
* Good culturally amenities Dwtn including a plethora of restaurants, bars, & cafes, lots of art galleries, several live music venues & night clubs, a convention center, a couple performing arts theaters, and several museums and historic sites.


* Density is rather low.
* Hsg is pretty expensive but similar to other stable inner city neighborhoods. Limited 1-bed product. Surprisingly there are few condos dwtn. What does exist sells around 400-500K, 2-beds sell btwn 300K-650K, 3 & 4 beds 400K-1 M.
* Rentals are surprisingly limited. What is available seems to lease in the 2-3Ks.
* Urban form is a mixed-bag in Dwtn Riverside. Mission  Inn Avenue has the best form, Market Street is a mixed bag, the smaller streets btwn 14th and 5th Streets are more “dwtn” in feel and a mix of surface parking lots, office towners, and areas of decent urban form. Main St in the northern half of dwtn is awful. 

Magnolia Center- an amenity rich mid-century neighborhood several miles from Dwtn Riverside, CA

Magnolia Center has long been an important commercial hub for Riverside since its foundation in 1883. This is thanks to the convergence of major streets  at Magnolia Center (i.e. Magnolia, Central, Arlington, Jurupa and Brockton Avenues) making it a natural location for commercial activities.  The neighborhood was developed with small farms and orange groves interspersed with single-family residences. Residential development began in the northern edges of the district in the 1920s but really picked up with the post WWII boom. While retaining some walkability with sidewalks and some orientation to the street, most of Magnolia Center’s commercial development is rather auto centric. Thankfully good urbanism is beginning to win out with the renovation of Riverside Plaza into a walkable lifestyle center and a new mixed-use urban overlay implemented along Brockton and Magnolia Avenues.

Magnolia Center also is a very safe community, hosts several quality schools, has decent park amenities, and good cultural and retail amenities. As long as the neighborhood continues to densify and built more mixed-use, urban orientated development along its commercial corridors, it could become a quality urban neighborhood. 

Click here to view my Magnolia Center album on Flickr


* Several dedicated bike lanes running through Magnolia Center, but no dedicated bike stations.
* Excellent diversity across the board, especially economic diversity.
* Overall a very safe community.
* Decent park amenities with several small/medium parks spread throughout. Magnolia Center also hosts a public pool too.
* Pretty good tree canopy throughout.
* Good array of walkable schools (both public & private) with good ratings.
* There appears to be a decent amount of aff. hsg in Magnolia Center.
* Some very nice 1920s-1940s residential homes, especially in the northern half of the district.
* Cultural amenities include a good array of ethnic restaurants, several bars & cafes, a performing arts center, a cineplex, and a night club.
* Retail amenities include several supermarkets & drug stores, several boutiques, a Nordstrom Rack, Marshall’s & several other brand name clothing stores, several antique stores, a staples, a bookstore, plenty banks, a hardware store, several gyms & dessert joints, and a community post office/public library. Many of these amenities however, are set in auto centric developments.


* Density is pretty low .
* Okay public transit but pretty good access to Downtown.
* Some rental product available, generally on the expensive side. 1-beds lease btwn 1.5K-2.5K, 2-beds 2K-3K, and not much 3 & 4 bed product available.
* For sale Hsg is pretty expensive but some moderately priced smaller units available. A handful of 1-beds sell around 400K. 2-beds 400K-650K, 3 & 4 beds anywhere btwn 300K-1M depending on size and condition.
* Sidewalks exist on about 70% of all streets in the neighborhood. Up to date ADA infrastructure is hit or miss.
* Most of Magnolia Center’s commercial streets are auto centric but always have sidewalks. Once one enters the Riverside Plaza, it becomes pretty walkable like a lifestyle center.
* Modern in-fill ins a mix of decent mid-century architecture, crappy autocentric commercial, and some more recent urban in-fill.
* Imageability isn’t great due to a lack of defined boundaries, mediocre connectivity, a lack of iconic landmarks, and semi-autocentric business districts. But the newly renovated Riverside Plaza is helping create a heart to Magnolia Center.
* Pedestrian traffic isn’t great.

Wood Streets- an attractive early 20th inner-city neighborhood in Riverside CA

Riverside’s Wood Streets neighborhood was devoted to orange groves until about 1913 when fill was introduced to the Tequesquite Arroyo River, allowing Magnolia Avenue to connect with Downtown. Wood Streets was then built out as a typical early 20th century streetcar suburb with residential design reflecting a traditional aesthetic. This is likely Riverside’s most cohesive and urban neighborhood outside of Dwtn.

Other positive urban aspects to Wood Streets include good public transit, excellent racial, economic, and generational diversity, a decent # of walkable schools, good parks, and good retail amenities on its northern and southern edges. But in order for Wood Streets to become a truly quality urban district it needs to densify and modify its zoning to permit multi-family construction at least along its arterials. With a lack of density Wood Streets is missing quality mixed-use fabric, walkable cultural amenities, and vibrancy. There is also need for better bike infrastructure here and more affordable housing in this single family dominated neighborhood.

Click here to view my Wood Streets album on Flickr


* Consistant curbs and sidewalks just outdated ADA ramps.
* Good public transit and convenient access to Dwtn Riverside. Unfortunately Dwtn Riverside doesn’t host very many jobs.
* Excellent diversity across the board, especially economic diversity.
* Retail Amenities include a decent number of amenities on the northern and southern edges of the neighborhood. This includes a supermarket, several drug stores, a couple salons, Major Hospital, several banks, a couple boutiques & dessert shops, and a staples. Lots of retail amenities, bars, and restaurants at Riverside Plaza (a quasi-urban outdoor mall) located 2 blocks from Woods Street.
* Good park amenities including the expansive Ryan Bonaminio Park and recreational Evans Park to the North. The mountainside park of Mt Rubidoux, is only 1/2 mile to the north of the district.
* A decent # of walkable schools but of mixed ratings.
* Overall a very safe community.


* Density is pretty low.
* A couple dedicated bike lanes but not dedicated bike stations.
* Cultural amenities are very limited as there is a mostly residential only neighborhood. The only cultural amenities in the neighborhood that I see are at Riverside City College (College Art Gallery & Performing Arts Center). Decent access to cultural amenities in Dwtn to the North and Magnolia Center to the south. Score
* Hsg is pretty expensive but some moderately priced smaller units available. A handful of 1-beds sell around 400K. 2-beds 400K-700K, 3 & 4 beds anywhere btwn 500K-800K.
* Rentals are very limited. What does existin are SF homes for rent and there are few apt. bldgs here.
* Where commercial does exist its pretty auto centric (i.e. Jurupa Ave).
* Pedestrian traffic is pretty sparse here.

Downtown San Bernardino- A struggling Downtown in the heart of the Inland Empire

I used smaller boundaries than what is typically considered Dwtn Bernardino. I feel this better captures what should be considered a “downtown”. I decided to evaluate this as a neighborhood as Dwtn Bernardino is not a major job center and lacks many of the qualifications of a typical major city Dwtn. The boundaries I used include I-215, Sierra Way, 5th St., and Rialto Ave.

San Bernardino really came to form starting in the late 19th century as the City proved to be an important  commercial hub at the crossroads between Southern California and the American Southwest. This helps explain why San Bernardino has such a large historic railroad station. The City reached 13K residents in 1910 and 43K by 40K. Since then San Bernardino has continued to sprawl and now hosts around 220K residents. Sadly, the City, especially the urban core has fallen on hard times. The City filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 2012 after having more than 1 Billion in debt.  Even through these challenges San Bernardino remains an important regional hub for the Inland Empire and hosts multiple consulates for Hispanic countries, due it is large Latino immigrant population.

While once a thriving and well built urban environment, Dwtn San Bernardino is a former shadow of itself. Only chunks of the original historic fabric remain. Most of historic San Bernardino was removed for parking, government office towers, or the failed Carousel Mall. Dwtn currently feels like a drivable Dwtn that permits pedestrians to exist if they choose. But there are still some positives not to overlook. Downtown has good ADA infrastructure, excellent public transit access, several walkable schools, decent cultural and retail amenities, and good parks. There are major plans underway to redevelop the former Carousel mall into a lively mixed-use hub. Hopefully this can succeed and pave the wave to an attractive Downtown San Bernardino again. There is just too much development pressure in Southern California for this dwtn to languish.

Click here to view my Dwtn San Bernardino album on Flickr


* Pretty good ADA infrastructure.
* Excellent public transit access.
* Walkable access to some jobs in Dwtn San Bernardino. Convenient 15 mins drive to Riverside and 45 bus ride.
* Very Hispanic population but good racial diversity overall. Also a surprisingly high number of households with Children Dwtn.
* Several walkable schools in the Dwtn area with decent ratings.
* Several Housing Authority Sites in the Dwtn area.
* Ok Cultural amenities. Only a handful of restaurants & bars, a couple cafes a cineplex, historic performing arts theater, a couple art galleries, and a couple night clubs/live music venues.
* Decent Retail Amenities as well including a budget supermarket, a drug store, a suburban power center on the southern edge of dwtn includes many retail stores, handful of boutiques & consignment stores, lots of gov’t offices and court houses, several banks, dwtn post office & public library.
* Not much hsg dwtn but a decent mix of retail, governmental bldgs, and entertainment venues.
* Several good park amenities most notably the large Seccome Lake Recreation Area. Meadowbrook Park is another decent sized park and there are several plaza spaces spread throughout dwtn.


* Very low density. This is partially attributable to this being rather Dwtn in character with limited residential bldgs.
* Poor bike infrastructure Dwtn with few dedicated bike lanes and not bike stations.
* While there is good public transit dwtn I can’t say this is a very walkable neighborhood given how auto oriented it is with half the land dedicated to parking lots.
* Very impoverished area with 35% living below the poverty line.
* Rental housing is fairly inexpensive for CA standards but very little of it Dwtn.
* Some for sale product in the Dwtn area. 1-bed condos sell btwn 60K-200K, 2-beds sell btwn 100K-400K, 3 & 4 beds btwn 300K-500K.
* San Bernardino is pretty notorious for high crime rate. This certainly pours into dwtn, but a bit more activity here so doesn’t feel terribly unsafe.
* Some blocks of historic fabric but much of dwtn is surface parking and lots of auto centric fabric.
 * Lots of auto centric crap but some interesting 70s & 80s in fill.
* What remains of Dwtn’s historic architecture is decent, but so much has been demolished.
* No real heart to Dwtn Bernardino. Imageability is pretty poor.
* Not great vibrancy dwtn as most people drive
* Tree canopy is so 

Redlands, CA- Historic Citrus Growing Center of Southern California

Its difficult to pick out precisely the urban core of Redlands but I did my best using San Mateo and Center St. as the western border, Highland Ave as the southern, Brookside and Lugonia as the northern, and University and Redlands as the eastern.

Development of Redlands started in the 1880s with the arrival of the Southern Pacific and Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroads, connecting Southern California to San Francisco and Salt Lake. Immigrants quickly discovered the area with its hot, dry climate and ready access to water was the ideal center for citrus production. The City was named “Redlands” after the color of the adobe soil. The Pacific Electric Railway completed an interurban connection between Los Angeles and San Bernardino in 1914, providing a convenient, speedy connection to the fast-growing city of Los Angeles. Redlands reached 2,000 people by 1890 and 10,500 by 1910, 14K in 1940 and population steadily grew as it continued to sprawl. Redlands now hosts just over 71K souls.

Downtown is pretty spreadout centered along State Street, a very intact main street. Orange St also has some nice Dwtn fabric. The rest of Dtwn is a hodgepodge of urban and auto centric blocks. Also included in this rather large evaluation area is the gorgeous residential Smiley Park Historic District with especially beautiful Victorians along Highland Avenue. North of  I-10 is a more modest district with a mix of attractive 1920s-1940s homes and gritty areas. This is also where Redland University is located. Really no urban biz district of note in this sub-district. Redland does very well, from an urban perspective, with racial and economic diversity, a decent amount of dedicated affordable hsg, good parks and schools, good cultural and retail amenities. The main areas for Dwtn Redlands to improve is more density, better public transit access, more affordable housing, better tree cover in areas outside of the Smiley Park Historic District, and better urban in-fill in the Dwtn area.

Click here to view my Redlands Album on Flickr


* Several decent bike trails but no dedicated bike stations here.
* Great racial and economic diversity and good generational diversity as well.
* Good array of walkable schools in central Redlands with generally good ratings.
* A couple sections of Central Redlands are a bit rough north of the highway but generally a safe community.
* A decent amount of dedicated affordable hsg sites in Redlands.
* Several solid parks in Central Redlands and pretty well distributed.
* Cultural amenities include a good # of restaurants, bars, and cafes, several art galleries, several performing arts theaters (including Redland University), a local cinema, a couple local museums, several live music venues & night clubs. Most of these amenities are concentrated Dwtn.
* Retail amenities include several supermarkets & drug stores, plenty of boutiques/consignment stores, several antique stores, banks, a couple bookstores, plenty of gyms & dessert joints. Also within Dwtn is a post office, office depot, public library. The Mountain Grove Shopping Center (a healthy power center complete with several dept. store and lots of retail) is just NW of the evaluation area. Much of this retail is auto oriented.
* State Street hosts the best urban form, followed by Orange St. Redlands Blvd is very auto centric.
* Excellent pockets of historic architecture in central Redlands, esp. in the Smiley Park Historic District. Other areas are so .


* Density isn’t that great.
* Sidewalks are generally there. Up to date ADA infrastructure is hit or miss.
* Public transit is so .
* Decent access to Dwtn Riverside as its only a 20 min drive but only ~10-15KK work in Dwtn Riverside. Also terrible public transit connection. A drive to Dwtn LA is 1 Hr. + and 2 HR+ by transit.
* Not a ton of rental product but what exist is pretty expensive, although not too bad for California standards. 1-beds lease btwn 1.5K-2K, 2-beds anywhere btwn 1.5K-2.5K, 3-beds in the 2Ks & 3KS.
* For sale is also expensive but some moderately priced options. 1-bed condos/small homes sell anywhere btwn 200K-500K, 2-beds anywhere btwn 300K-800K, 3 & 4 beds btwn 400K-1 M with some higher end product reaching the mid 1 Ms.
* Modern in-fill is mostly unattractive in-fill architecture.
* Tree cover is good in the Smiley Park Historic District. Not so good Dwtn or north of Dwtn. 

Palm Springs- California’s Desert Resort

Palm Springs became a fashionable resort town starting in the early 1900s when health tourists arrived here. It received another boast in popularity when movie stars began to buy second homes here in the 1930s helping to create the ultra exclusive Movie Colony, Tahquitz River Estates, and Las Palmas neighborhoods sitting just outside of Downtown. Palm Spring also built California’s first self-contained shopping center “La Plaza”, which still stands today. The 1950s brought architectural modernists and the blossoming of the arts and cultural.  Many argue that Palm Springs became the model for mass-produced suburban housing, especially in the Southwest. The 1970s brought more and more year round residents to Palm Springs as many retirees began to live here fulltime. Since the 2000s much effort has gone into building up and urbanizing Dwtn especially along the main drag (S Palm Canyon Dr.) and surrounding blocks.

Not surprisingly Dwtn Palm Springs hosts great cultural and shopping amenities, very interesting architecture from the 1920s-1950s, and several very walkable blocks. But the eastern half of Dwtn has many dead spaces and plenty of vacant lots or self-enclosed apartments and subdivisions. These areas need to urbanized for Dwtn Palm Springs to be a quality urban area. There is also need for more affordable housing, better connectivity, bike  infrastructure, and better walkable schools.

Click here to view my Dwtn Palm Dessert Album on Flickr


* Other than some outdated curb cuts the ADA infrastructure is very good in Palm Springs.
* Poor access to Job centers and Dwtn. Residents are a 1 hr. drive to Dwtn Riverside and 2.5 hrs. by bus. Dwtn LA and Anaheim and even further.
* Surprisingly very good racial and economic diversity.
* Park amenities just got a lot better with the construction of the expansive and multi-faceted Downtown Park. Frances Stevens Park is another nice one with a couple other pocket parks. Dwtn Palm Springs also has access to get hiking and trails with the mountain practically hoping right up to it.
* Great culturally assets including many restaurants, bars, and cafes, tons of art galleries, several performing art galleries, several museums, and many night clubs.
* Retail amenities are also great and include a discount supermarket, a couple gourmet grocerias, a couple drug store, tons of boutiques and clothing store with a good mix of name brands and locally owned, many gift shops, a couple bookstores, a couple gyms, many dessert joints, and a dwtn public library.
* Vey safe dwtn.
* Interesting 1920s/1930s and mid century architecture especially along the core of Dwtn. The eastern edge is mostly modern in-fill and pretty bland. Good urban in-fill in the core as well.
* Great urban massing and streetscaping along S Palm Canyon Dr., decent massing along Indian Canyon Dr. and the western half of Tahquitz Canyon Way.


* Density is more similar to a suburb.
* A couple dedicated bike lanes but no bike stations dwtn.
* Not surprisingly the medium age is about 60 and few children households here.
* Only a couple schools within walking distance to Dwtn Palm Springs.
* For sale hsg is on the expensive side but a decent # of moderately 1-bed condos in older bldgs selling btwn 200K-500K. A good # of 2-bed condos sell btwn 300K-500K. Also plenty selling btwn 500K-1M. 3 & 4 beds go for anywhere btwn 500K-1.5 M. Multi-Million $ hsg exists just outside of Dwtn.
* Not a ton of rentals available. They are also expensive with 1-beds renting btwn high 1Ks-3K, 2-beds 2K-4K, and 3-beds a very rare.
* Dwtn is missing a dwtn post office, only has a handful of churches, and a major hospital is about 1 mile north of Dwtn.
* A couple dead/gritty parts of Dwtn on the eastern edge.
* Connectivity is good in the western half of Dwtn (the core) but not so great in the eastern half. Lots of private developments. Lots of open vacant lots here too and urban massing is very good.