By Benny Cartwright
While the featured presentation at the Oct. 10 meeting of the Hillcrest Town Council (HTC) was on the neighborhood’s LGBTQ+ past and present, it was clear that the issue of homelessness and the hepatitis A outbreak that is spreading through San Diego was on people’s minds.
During the public comment period, one neighbor spoke up about the hepatitis A outbreak, explaining what he believes to be the symptoms of the illness and encouraging anyone who exhibits symptoms to immediately see a doctor.
Almost all of the representatives of our elected officials who were present also spoke about homelessness and the related hepatitis A crisis, and addressed some of the things that their offices are doing. Assemblymember Todd Gloria’s office said that they are doing everything they can at the state level to leverage resources to support the health emergency, but also to come up with affordable housing solutions. Other offices mentioned that handwashing stations have been placed throughout neighborhoods as a potential solution to the hepatitis A outbreak, and the city opened a temporary “campground” for homeless individuals on Oct. 9 in an old city public works lot. The campground is a temporary arrangement as the city prepares to open three giant tents to house homeless people and provide wrap-around social services.
The Hillcrest Town Council has previously hosted several forums on homelessness and will continue to address the issue and encourage our elected officials to support our community members in need. While we understand some of the difficulties the homeless population can cause for housed folks, we believe that homelessness is not the fault of the unhoused population, rather a systemic problem that we need to address as a community. We always welcome input and solution ideas from our neighbors.
Other items discussed included an update from UCSD Health on the future reconstruction of their Hillcrest campus, and an update on the University Avenue Pipeline Project. We’ll post more about those projects on our social media pages as information becomes available.
It was a very busy meeting as we also held an election for a Hillcrest resident seat on the Uptown Community Parking District (UCPD) advisory board, which is comprised of members of the four neighborhood committees. The neighborhoods are Bankers Hill, Hillcrest, Mission Hills and International Restaurant Row. The organization’s charge is to address parking inventory/supply, uniformity of parking allocation, traffic circulation, public information, public transit and comprehensive system management.
Gerri Trussell, UCPD’s executive director, led the election, which had two Hillcrest residents vying for the open seat. HTC’s membership, which is the body that has been given the authority to elect the Hillcrest resident seat to the board, elected Miah Earn. A longtime Hillcrest resident, Earn has been an active participant at HTC meetings, and we look forward to her fresh voice on this important board. Earn will attend HTC meetings whenever possible and be open to hearing input on parking issues that she can take back to the UCPD board.
The second half of the meeting was dedicated to a wonderful presentation on Hillcrest’s LGBTQ+ past and present, presented by the Lambda Archives of San Diego’s Lead Archivist Jen LaBarbera. The presentation opened with a brief introduction to the important work the Archives does to gather the history of San Diego and Baja California’s LGBT communities. She then spoke to the group about why Hillcrest became the region’s LGBT enclave, and several notable historical events in the area. While Hillcrest is a neighborhood that is open and welcome to everyone, the LGBT community has a rich history in the area, and will continue to be a major presence for years to come — and we like that!
The next Hillcrest Town Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 14 from 6:30-8 p.m. at Joyce Beers Community Center in the HUB shopping center. Check out our Facebook page soon to get more information about the meeting topic when we announce it. Also mark your calendar for our annual Hillcrest Holiday Party scheduled for Friday, Dec. 8, from 6-8 pm at Gossip Grill. Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office has called us “the most fun town council in the city” so you definitely don’t want to miss our holiday celebration!
— Benny Cartwright is vice chair of the Hillcrest Town Council.