Hillcrest 2.0 Examines Hillcrest’s History to Chart its Future
By Michele Yoshioka
As the city of San Diego is preparing to rewrite the neighborhood plan for the Uptown area, the members of the Hillcrest Business Improvement Association are also putting together their ideas for Hillcrest’s future through a series of workshops titled “Hillcrest 2.0.”
The first of these workshops was held November 18, at which more than 45 people filled the private dining room of Bombay Restaurant in Hillcrest. The majority of attendees were business owners, many of whom mentioned it was their first time participating in a Hillcrest Business Improvement Association event. The atmosphere inside the room was full of high energy and excitement to learn more about Hillcrest and produce ideas for the neighborhood plan update.
The evening began with an interactive activity where people worked in groups to select pictures that represented what the group collectively agreed are the types of things they want to see in Hillcrest.
“This is fantastic,” said Amy Capano, owner of Cathedral. “There is such great energy and everyone seems to be on the same page with what they want visually for Hillcrest.”
Among the many pictures posted, there were a number of common items that people identified as important elements to improve Hillcrest. These items included relaxing, café-style outdoor dining, fountains as public art pieces incorporated into the neighborhood, and improving Hillcrest as a mixed-use community that is walkable, with a friendly and welcoming feel.
After the attendees enjoyed complimentary appetizers provided by Bombay and discussed in groups the types of physical improvements they wanted to see in Hillcrest, UCSD Professor Dr. Mirle Bussell gave a presentation on the economic revitalization of Hillcrest. The group followed along attentively as Bussell ran through the history of Hillcrest, showing pictures of buildings and roads, and aerial views of the neighborhood, while putting emphasis on the developing infrastructure and scale of building heights throughout the years. The presentation also looked at the progression of demographics that Hillcrest has embodied in the past, and compared the varying styles of architecture that can be seen through the years of building and re-building.
Bussell used statistics on Hillcrest demographics to set up the groundwork for discussions on economic revitalization through implementing a “brand” for the neighborhood. She noted an interesting fact: the Hillcrest neighborhood’s population trends are older than the city as a whole, with “40% of the population in the 30 to 49 age bracket, compared to 28% for the San Diego average.”
The audience was engaged and interactive, with comments about the types of brands already built into Hillcrest, and questions about Bussell’s views on sustainability.
Bussell also discussed how the infrastructure of Hillcrest has been successful in relating what the community has done in the past to follow “smart growth” principles and the American Planning Association’s guidelines for honoring Hillcrest as one of the Nation’s Top Ten Neighborhoods. The presentation came to a close as Bussell reminded the audience to examine the elements of Hillcrest’s history that have been successful, and building off of its past to create a better future.
The Hillcrest Business Improvement Association will be hosting more workshops in the future to learn more about urban planning from experts and to continue brainstorming and compiling ideas for the future of Hillcrest. If you would like to attend the next workshop, please contact Benjamin Nicholls at email@example.com or (619) 299-3330.
Michele Yoshioka is the Communications/Marketing Program Manager for the Hillcrest Business Improvement Association.