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Students involved with The Sage Project. Students involved with The Sage Project.

The Sage Project Announces a New Partner

SDSU students will provide ideas, designs, service and products to tackle community issues with Santee city officials.
By Natalia Elko

On the heels of a successful inaugural partnership with National City, Jessica Barlow, director of The Sage Project at San Diego State University announced the City of Santee as the project’s new partner for 2015-2016.

During a symposium on Monday, April 27, SDSU President Elliot Hirshman and National City Mayor Ron Morrison praised The Sage Project, which helped modernize and improve National City and created collaborations with officials to take on city issues.

Over the past two years, the project has engaged 55 classes, 35 faculty members and more than 2,000 students across 23 disciplines at SDSU.

“Partnerships like this are great for both SDSU and the city partner. Students and faculty have the opportunity to tackle real and complex projects that can make a difference for a community,” Barlow said. “In the short-term, this directly helps the city advance their goals with innovative approaches. Students are then better prepared to be future leaders in our community, so the community benefits in the long-term as well.”

A new partnership

With a population of just under 56,000, Santee envisions itself as a city where people want to live, work and play.

“We’re very excited about our new partnership with the City of Santee, because they’ve proposed a number of highly ambitious, interdisciplinary projects that can really engage a lot of students from a variety of disciplines,” Barlow said.

“They’ve proposed a feasibility study for a new civic center complex, and we see this project involving civil engineering, city planning, art and design, geography, and real estate and finance courses. Another great project is for city branding that could engage students from graphic design, marketing, political science and social work. Together, the students from across these disciplines will provide the city with a large number of ideas and perspectives for these projects that they would not otherwise be able to get with such depth or variety.”

The Sage Project is currently recruiting SDSU faculty who can connect their courses with projects in the City of Santee during the upcoming academic year.

Project concepts were generated by City of Santee staff and based on current city priorities. The ideas, designs, service and products that SDSU students generate will have a real-world impact on these unmet community needs.

Proposed projects include:

  • Athletic Center Feasibility Study
    A 65,000 square-foot field house style gymnasium and classrooms for recreation programs is planned for the site adjacent to the Cameron Family YMCA and Santee Aquatics Center at Town Center Community Park.
  • Feasibility Study for New Civic Center Complex
    The preparation of a feasibility study and land-use analysis for a new civic center complex in the Town Center area, would include site analysis for a new fire station to replace the existing one.
  • Concept Design for an Iconic Pedestrian Bridge
    A feasibility study and concept design for a pedestrian bridge across the San Diego River connecting Town Center Community Park on the north side of the river to the smart growth residential and commercial district on the south side of the river.
  • Walkability Study
    Local planning and traffic engineering initiatives, community engagement, and public outreach would be used to solicit and develop solutions to make Santee a more pedestrian friendly city.
  • Traffic Roundabout
    Study of the feasibility of and design a traffic roundabout that would be located at the intersection of Woodside Avenue and the State Route 67 off-ramp in Santee.
  • Riverview Parkway Road Connection
    A feasibility and concept study would be conducted for the completion of a previously master-planned roadway and drainage improvement project on Riverview Parkway.
  • San Diego River Water Quality Enhancement
    Review the city’s inventory of undeveloped sites for opportunities to develop and implement water quality enhancement projects.
  • Recruitment/Marketing Plan for Hotel
    Develop a recruitment strategy and marketing plan to secure a new hotel in Santee to serve 360,000 annual visitors generated by Sportsplex USA.
  • Website Redesign
    Review the city’s current website and develop ideas to improve the readability and user experience as well as maintenance.
  • City Branding
    Build on existing efforts to discover a city brand that is enticing, honest and powerful and create a focused snapshot of the community’s values, assets and priorities which can be articulated as the city’s value statement.
  • Community Gateway Features
    Develop concept designs for unique gateway features, including enhanced signage and landscaping, that can serve to identify the main entryways into Santee.
  • Solar PV Feasibility Study & Design
    Perform a solar feasibility study to determine the best possible location(s) where the city might be able to install a Solar Photovoltaic system.
  • Homeless Intervention Program
    An analysis would offer a menu of strategies for dealing with the homeless, including actions to curb petty theft and aggressive panhandling and unsanitary conditions in the riverbed. 

Santee will fund between 10 and 20 projects, and according to Barlow, can anticipate the cost of each project to range anywhere between $15,000 and $50,000. As part of their coursework, SDSU students will generate ideas, designs and solutions for the projects selected.

Success with National City

The Sage Project partnership with National City produced a number of projects and initiatives taken up by the local government. Communities have benefited from students projects from a variety of disciplines ranging from city planning, civil engineering, and public health to graphic design, political science, public administration, and recreation and tourism management.

“It’s great when we are pressed with new ideas and that is exactly what this project has done,” National City Mayor Ron Morrison said at the symposium.

Some of the standout projects include an educational solar charging station installed at the National City Library; a land use analysis which provided suggestions for development of the Marina District; and a grant from the Aztec Parents Fund that has allowed The Sage Project to offer violin classes to children at A Reason To Survive, a nonprofit arts education and art therapy organization.

“Thank you to all of the students and faculty who improved National City,” Morrison said.

“Santee — get ready for an experience!”

About the Sage Project

In fall 2013, SDSU's Center for Regional Sustainability debuted the Community Engagement for Sustainable Cities program — an extensive collaboration designed to help National City reach its sustainability goals.

While the name was later changed to The Sage Project, the goals remained the same — students, through their coursework, engage in meaningful real-world projects that contribute to the smart growth, quality of life and sustainability goals of a community in SDSU's service area.