SCAG Region: Compass Blueprint Case Study Downtown San Bernardino
Downtown San Bernardino
The City of San Bernardino is the county seat of San Bernardino County and part of the Inland Empire, one of the largest, fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the U.S. While San Bernardino and Riverside Counties are known for their rapid, low-density, suburban growth patterns, many Inland Empire communities are now reexamining this growth model in the face of concerns about air quality and climate change and the growing demand for walkable, transit-accessible neighborhoods. San Bernardino is one City at the forefront of this trend, taking advantage of the growing interest in downtown living to draw new public and private investment into its historic core. The City’s downtown revitalization efforts are the subject of this case study.
In its efforts to revitalize the downtown, San Bernardino is capitalizing on a strong public sector employment base and high transit ridership rates. San Bernardino was once the economic and cultural heart of San Bernardino County, and although the City’s regional centrality has declined over the past 20 years, it remains one of the most important job centers in the region (Figure 2). As the county seat, San Bernardino is home to numerous local, state and federal government offices which draw 15,000 to 20,000 office workers a day into the downtown.
San Bernardino also has a historic commitment to pubic transportation. The San Bernardino Metrolink and Amtrak station, located just to the west of downtown, is the terminal stop on the most widely used line in the Metrolink system, which connects the City to downtown Los Angeles. San Bernardino is also served by local Omnitrans bus routes and a number of regional bus systems. In part because of San Bernardino’s lower incomes, the City’s residents take public transit to work more often than the rest of the county and own fewer cars. Public transit ridership is particularly strong in the downtown area (Table 1).
Downtown San Bernardino is poised to experience a renaissance in the coming decades, as a number of catalytic redevelopment projects and transit improvements are completed. The City is focusing on increasing homeownership opportunities, concentrating employment in the downtown, and engaging downtown’s ethnically and culturally diverse population.