By Hutton Marshall | SDUN Editor
Tonight, three of the seven candidates running for Uptown Planners will get a seat on the board for the next four years starting in April. The most prevalent issue appears to be future density levels in Uptown, which is of particular consequence as the Uptown Community Plan Update nears completion.
Here is a brief overview of what we know about the candidates you will have the opportunity to vote for tonight. Listed are the communities they reside in, although they can weigh in and vote on any issue Uptown Planners takes on.
Sharon Gehl – Mission Hills
Gehl sits on the Mission Hills Business Improvement District board and serves as its liaison to the Mission Hills Town Council. The BID endorsed her in its newsletter sent out yesterday.
Concerning the Uptown Community Plan Update, Gehl has advocated for higher height limits and increased density, most notably in the Hillcrest area. She wrote an Op-Ed that appeared in the Jan. 17 issue Uptown News, which argued against reducing density in Uptown.
Roy Dahl – Hillcrest
Dahl previously served two terms on Uptown Planners, and takes a seat on the board whenever it discusses the community plan update as the Hillcrest Town Council’s representative. He proposed the recent, unanimously passed motion that recommended maintaining the Interim Height Limit throughout much of Hillcrest. Included in this motion was a recommendation for a second level of discretionary review allowing for higher building heights in portions of Hillcrest, which was seen as a compromise with those advocating for more development and density.
Walt Chambers – Hillcrest
Chambers is the founder of Great Streets SD, an urban design advocacy organization. He has consistently advocated for increased density and for creating more walkable urban areas. A more extensive view of his opinions can be found on the Great Streets SD website.
Gary Bonner – Bankers Hill / Park West
Bonner is the sole incumbent running for reelection, nearing the end of his first four-year term. In 2012, he presented and successfully motioned to recommend a plan to downzone and maintain densities in Bankers Hill / Park West in the community plan update.
Bob Daniel – Mission Hills / Western Slopes
Daniel was appointed late last year to serve the remainder of Kim Adler’s term following her resignation. Mission Hills Heritage (MMH) Board Chairman Barry Hager said Daniel’s views are in line with those of MMH, which has consistently supported lower building heights and current density levels. Hager personally endorsed Daniel.
Tom Mullaney – Hillcrest
As the director of Friends of San Diego Architecture, a group working on community quality-of-life issues, Mullaney advocated for reduced densities and maintaining the Interim Height Limit in the Hillcrest area. He’s also written about the importance of fiscal responsibility where growth and development are concerned.
Mat Wahlstrom – Hillcrest
Wahlstrom, the owner of Roberts Electric Services, Inc., has been attending the Uptown Planners meetings for two years now, he said. A supporter of maintaining current density levels in Hillcrest, he said he is wary of outside developers and the discretionary review process which allows for higher building heights, saying this opens the process up to be influenced by developer money.