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San Marcos University District Specific Plan

San Marcos, California
Firm Role
Transit planning, parking and transportation demand management planning and modeling, traffic analysis
2008 – 2009, adopted 2009
195 acres
Honors & Awards
  • 2010 Outstanding Planning Award for Neighborhood Planning from the San Diego Section of the American Planning Association
  • 2020 Merit Award for Collaborations from the California Association for Local Economic Development

In 2008, the City of San Marcos wanted something that it had never had: a walkable, mixed-use downtown. Two factors made conditions ripe for building one. Cal State University San Marcos was ready to add student housing and the Sprinter light rail line was about to begin service to San Marcos.

To bring that vision to life, the City developed the University District Specific Plan. The plan is transforming 195 acres of industrial lands next to campus and the new rail stop into a lively mixed-use neighborhood.

While a Principal at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting, Patrick Siegman led the transportation planning effort for the project. The work included designing citywide shuttle routes, crafting the project's parking and traffic reduction standards, and a strategy for sharing University commuter parking with the new student housing. We also assessed the traffic-reducing effects of the plan’s transit, parking pricing, and transportation demand management requirements, to ensure that the plan’s traffic study estimated actual impacts.

The City Council unanimously adopted the Specific Plan in 2009. It received the 2010 Outstanding Planning Award for Neighborhood Planning from the San Diego APA. Mixed-use buildings housing 850 students and 196 professional apartments over restaurants and cafés; a medical school, a 140,000 square-foot University Extension center, co-working space, a climbing gym, and a brewpub with bowling alley have been completed. According to California Association for Local Economic Development, the “deliberate combination of mixed-use buildings, residences, destination-worthy restaurants/entertainment, student housing, campus facilities, open and gathering spaces has charted a new course for how purposeful development can inspire and support an entire community”.

Images courtesy of CSU San Marcos and the City of San Marcos