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Watch your step…there’s a transformer there

Sidewalk Transformer
Onion Icon  Onion

“A lot can be gleaned about a city’s built environment priorities by looking at where building electric transformers are located.”

This is not a statement uttered frequently, if ever, but is instigated by this recent example of poor planning and policy. It is not a singular example either, but among other examples throughout the city.

If I were an outsider looking in on San Diego, the location of this transformer would imply a city that does not care about walkability or active pedestrian oriented streets. It says, “let’s devalue our most valuable urban spaces.” 

Perhaps it is the time for us to reconsider how we locate the utilities that serve us and the policies that prevent alternative approaches. This Onion begs the question: should we allow transformers in places like North Park to be located underground as they are allowed in downtown? As more city neighborhoods shed their low density past and come into their own as truly urban, we need to prioritize the function of our public zones. Is downtown the only place reserved for infrastructure policies that reflect our walkability goals? 

City Wide - this specific example is at 30th and Adams

Project Owner/Developer:

Project Architect/Designer:


  1. David M.

    This joins a long list of utility obstructions on our sidewalks. Usually they are backflow preventors in cages. The city should be embarrassed — and awarded a big, sticky Onion.

  2. Guest

    I agree this is horrible… but it is a switch, not a transformer. Switches can be installed underground in a manhole, so that makes it even worse!

  3. MEW

    What in God’s name was the City thinking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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