Community organization hands out LION awards at October meeting
By Anthony King | SDUN Editor
After community members were given LION awards at the Oct. 9 Hillcrest Town Council meeting, Councilmember and 2012 mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio spoke, highlighting his mayoral initiatives and answering questions from the crowd. Approximately 30 people were in attendance.
Town Council board chair Luke Terpstra handed out the awards, which are given to individuals and businesses in Hillcrest for visual improvements, support and general community building. LION stands for “Let’s Improve Our Neighborhood.”
“LION is the Hillcrest Town Council official award that we give to people who improve our neighborhood,” Terpstra said at the meeting. “We don’t give out a lot, but when we give them out, it’s very, very special.”
Hillcrest resident Ricardo Rodriguez was present to receive his LION award for his renovation and restoration of two properties at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Vermont Street. “There were two houses at that intersection … that were falling down,” Terpstra said. “I didn’t have a lot of hope for them. We want to thank Ricardo for enhancing the appearance of that intersection.”
The second award was given to Ortega’s Bistro, located at 141 University Ave. Owners John Haugland and Juan Carlos Ortega were also present to accept their award.
Terpstra said Ortega’s Bistro was being honored for “generously providing a meeting [space] to the Hillcrest Town Council steering committee, where plans are made to improve the neighborhood.” The committee meets monthly to set the agenda are set for the regular council meetings. While separate from Uptown Planners and the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA), the Town Council works closely with businesses, planning groups, city government and individuals on issues it deems important to the neighborhood.
“We do this throughout the year, and we’re very appreciative to Ortega’s for supplying that space for us to meet,” Terpstra said.
Part of the group’s initiative is providing a forum for guest speakers, including DeMaio. The group welcomed Congressmember and mayoral candidate Bob Filner to speak at their August meeting.
At the October meeting, DeMaio repeatedly reiterated the focus of his candidacy, citing fiscal and economic issues. “My candidacy is about finishing the job of fiscal reform,” he said. “Our fiscal reform agenda isn’t just about the pretty balanced budget and the great balance sheet. It’s about getting city government working again in our neighborhoods.”
After moving beyond discussion of fiscal reform, DeMaio emphasized other platforms of his mayoral run, including infrastructure, parking and the environment, ultimately coming back to economic concerns by calling job creation the “most important” issue for the new mayor.
“We also need to pivot from fiscal reform and restoring services; we’ve got to get our economy moving again,” he said.
DeMaio then addressed his support in Hillcrest, including from the LGBT community. In the June primary election, DeMaio did not receive the majority of votes from the Hillcrest neighborhood.
“We may disagree from time to time,” he said. “I know a lot of people look at me and see nothing more than a party label, just like a lot of social conservatives at one point looked at me and saw nothing more than my orientation.”
DeMaio then fielded questions from the audience regarding the state of the Uptown Community Plan, density and infrastructure issues for Hillcrest. The Councilmember said there is both money and a commitment from the city to see the completion of the Uptown Community Plan.
“You need neighborhoods, so community plans are really the reflections … of where we are today and where we want to go,” DeMaio said, calling Hillcrest a “walk-able and bike-able urban community.”
The next Town Council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Joyce Beers Community Center. For more information visit hillcresttowncouncil.com.