By Benny Cartwright
The new board of the Hillcrest Town Council (HTC), led by chair Kath Rogers, presided over its first meeting on Tuesday, April 12. While Rogers and the board members are slowly making some tweaks to the meeting format and structure, this meeting was fairly similar to those of past months and, as usual, was packed with great information and discussion.
All attendees were asked to introduce themselves at the beginning of the meeting, and were invited to share any public comment items they had at that time. The crowd was diverse, with a mix of residents, business owners and others who love the neighborhood but don’t live or work here. We saw several new faces, and want to continue to encourage anyone who cares about Hillcrest to visit us each month on the second Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
Representatives from the offices of elected officials gave informative updates as usual, and many were sad to hear from state Sen. Marty Block’s representative Katelyn Hailey that this would be her last meeting with us as she is moving on to a nonprofit advocacy job. We will continue to see representation from Block’s office though, through another staffer who will be assigned to Hillcrest.
As we work towards having more cohesive themes at our monthly meetings, this one centered on bicycle issues, with a presentation by SANDAG on their Uptown Bikeways Project.
SANDAG’s stated goal of the project is to “create connections within neighborhoods, improve streets, and create links to the larger bikeway network being built throughout the region. The project will provide on-street connections from Old Town and Mission Valley through Uptown to Downtown, North Park, and Balboa Park. The Uptown Bikeways is one of the first high priority projects identified in the San Diego Regional Bike Plan to be funded for implementation.”
Some may recall there was much controversy about this proposal last year, especially related to the potential loss of on-street parking spaces in Hillcrest. Some business owners worry about the impact this may have on their businesses, and have put forth alternative proposals. SANDAG provided an update on where the project stands today — which is scaled down from the original proposal — but will include protected bike lanes, “bulb outs” at intersections, and other pedestrian and bicycle safety measures.
Concerns raised by community members included the potential loss of parking spaces (the current proposal calls for about 23 parking spaces to be lost in Hillcrest); whether the “bulb outs” will have landscaping or just be cement as they were shown in the presentation; and the possible addition of mid-block crosswalks to promote a more pedestrian-friendly environment.
SANDAG hopes to begin construction in 2017 and will be back to present to community groups later in the year. More information about the project can be found at bit.ly/1CZmHnJ.
On the topic of bikes, HTC has been invited to volunteer at the Hillcrest Business Association’s “Re-Imagine Normal Street” events, scheduled for May 12-15. The various events — which will shut down a portion of Normal Street — will include a number of outdoor activities including games, lectures, concerts and a movie screening, capped by Sunday’s weekly farmers market.
HTC volunteers will work the bike corral, so that those who choose to bike to the event will have a safe place to park. We will be staffing the corral during the Friday, May 13 evening screening of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” — and volunteers will be situated in a space where they can see the film. If you’d like to volunteer, send us a message at bit.ly/1SQMhnq.
Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 10 and we hope to see you there! We’re still working out the agenda, but hope to hear from the San Diego mayoral candidates at an upcoming meeting. Check out our website at hillcresttowncouncil.com, like Hillcrest Town Council on Facebook, and follow @hillcresttc on Twitter to be kept up to date.
—Benny Cartwright is vice chair of the Hillcrest Town Council.