BikeSD calls for resignation of Uptown Planners chair

Posted: August 7th, 2014 | Featured, Hillcrest, News | 8 Comments

Hutton Marshall | Uptown Editor

On Wednesday, Aug. 6, Bike San Diego published an online petition calling for the resignation of Leo Wilson, the longtime chair of the Uptown Community Planning Group, a city-recognized advisory board focused on land use and development.

Sam Ollinger, executive director of the bike advocacy nonprofit, said the letter accompanying the petition was originally sent as an email from her directly to Wilson on July 8, but she received no reply. In the letter, Ollinger criticizes Wilson for an aversion to active transportation planning.

“Your leadership at Uptown Planners reveals a fundamental inability to address the concerns of anyone except automobile drivers and their near constant demand for more public space to store their private vehicles,” Ollinger wrote.

She also cites an inflammatory letter Wilson sent to a senior city planner, in which Wilson criticized “straight white bigots” threatening the integrity of “historic Hillcrest.”

“I object to certain straight white bigots attacking the members of the GLBT community accusing the Hillcrest community of being antiquated because we are asking that the character of Hillcrest, and other communities in Uptown, be preserved,” Wilson wrote in an email to Senior Planner Marlon Pangilinan. “If these people want to live in a high density environments, they need to move Downtown.”

Wilson, a former attorney who also runs another non-profit community organization, the Metro Community Development Corporation, has served as the chair of Uptown Planners for more than nine years between 2005 – 2014.

In the letter, which was published on the online-petitioning site, Ollinger cites multiple projects aimed at improving active transportation in Uptown, which encompasses Hillcrest, Mission Hills, Bankers Hill and a portion of University Heights.

“It’s interesting because Ollinger attacked me for the [2011 India Street bike lane proposal], but that would have taken out over 100 parking spaces. That would have been devastating to businesses,” Wilson said. “And I’ll be honest, with the [email to Pangilinan], I was tired of being attacked, so I was giving them a piece of their own medicine.”

When asked who she would support as a potential successor as chair of the planning board, Ollinger said she didn’t have a specific person in mind. She did, however, mention Chris Ward, an Uptown Planner running for the District 3 City Council seat in 2016, as someone who would likely benefit from showing leadership on the issue. Ward currently serves as chief of staff in State Sen. Marty Block’s office.

Ollinger said the future chair “should be a voice for the community instead of having a bias against community voices, that’s who I’d really like to see replace [Wilson].”


*This post was updated to include commentary from Leo Wilson.


  1. […] calling on Leo Wilson to resign from the Uptown Planners Community Planning Board was covered by Uptown News yesterday. The story included this response from […]

  2. Hans Wangbichler says:

    Like it or not, Uptown will have to move into the 21st century, much like they moved into the 20th century, away from horses and into cars. Paving the roads for bicycles and installing JDSpreckles’ network of trolley cars in 1892. Asking Wilson to resign his post would be akin to Putin leaving the Russian presidency (remember that?). If the Uptown Community does not want bike lanes and follow suit with cities like Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Paris, Berlin… so be it. They won’t be stopping the bicycles from coming, just the organization of that segment. Who would ever expect Uptown to be accepting of all lifestyle choices?

  3. […] BikeSD makes a public call for the resignation of the chair of the city’s Uptown Planners group. […]

  4. chuckt says:

    Tired of cyclists. Glad there are no bike lanes

  5. Richard cardulla says:

    Sam Ollinger, their is no term limit on serving on the community planning groups, but look at the city rules regarding the formation and running of all planning groups for the entire city. If a percentage of members remain more than 8 years or office holders remain over 8 years they may lose their right to have the city attorney defend them if sued in court and they may also be held personally responsible.

  6. wALT bREWER says:

    As a daily bike rider I agree they can replace some other mode short trips, including autos, and should be supported within reason. As in the auto parking example, bikers should reduce risk of lane sharing using readily available bright multiple LED flashing tail lights.

    But let’s apply environmental context to the City/Regional role of bikes using the San Diego City Climate Action Plan that encourages and quantifies bike use. Measure: metric tonnes of CO2 Reduction in 2035.

    Biking 75,000

    Autos; “PRAWLEY” Improvements now underway 2,360,000

    Autos; including other identified improvements. 4,010,000

    Thus auto are at least 32 times as effective for reducing GHG than bikes while meeting City mobility needs.

    This does not take into account federal npg standards starting in 2025 that reduce fuel consumption further by ~ 50%.

    These autos will cost more, but owners benefit from lower fuel use cost.

    For near trivial benefits like this, why should auto use be downgraded for other mode users convenience?

    For that matter consider mass transit: 235,000 MT CO2 reduction. Autos preference factor; 10 times. (And expensive mass transit factor over bikes is only; 3.1 Times) Maybe bikers should be urging shifts by non-drivers, mass transits majority riders? Win-win to reduce mass transit because the Plan shows it costs the public most per unit CO2 reduced.

  7. Walt Brewer says:

    Better name. Hit the caps key!

  8. […] (such as Uptown Chair Leo Wilson – whom we’ve asked to step down as Chair) are claiming that the city needs to do a environmental analysis in order to add a bike lane. In an […]

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