By Mary M. McKenzie
The forum on homelessness sponsored by the Hillcrest Town Council (HTC) at its May 10 community meeting drew a crowd of over 100 concerned community members.
Moderated by HTC’s immediate past president Luke Terpstra, the forum panel consisted of San Diego police Officer Ricardo Pinon, Jennifer Buck of Think Dignity, Alpha Project’s Brandon Smith, Ben Nicholls of the Hillcrest Business Association, and Karina Vesco, a licensed clinical psychologist.
The panelists addressed several aspects of the homeless crisis in San Diego, from legal responses to lack of services to strategies for community education to a call for more affordable housing. A vibrant dialogue followed the panel presentations. Issues raised included aggressive behavior, the special situation of LGBT homelessness, and the role of physical and mental illness.
Prior to the panel, representatives from several community organizations and elected officials gave updates on neighborhood issues, including the University Avenue Pipeline Project and the Uptown Community Plan update. The participants also heard from Mayoral candidate Ed Harris and City Attorney candidates Bryan Pease and Gil Cabrera.
At the meeting, the Town Council voted to support the Hillcrest Business Association’s “Re-Imagine Normal Street” project on May 12-15. The temporary project transformed Normal Street to a car-free public space, and HTC staffed the bike coral. Additionally, Natalia Mendez addressed street closures and the June 5 Rock & Roll Marathon. The run will be longer on University Avenue but will reopen earlier than in years past.
Next month’s meeting of the Town Council, on June 14, will focus on affordable housing. As always, representatives from local organizations and officials will provide community updates. The council encourages all Hillcrest residents — whether renters or owners — to attend meetings and participate by asking questions and providing input on issues you believe need to be addressed.
Also, if you’re looking to get more involved in the neighborhood, the Hillcrest Town Council has a board vacancy due to the departure of board member Rich Grousett, who has provided great leadership on the board and will be missed. The minimum requirements to serve on the board are Hillcrest residency; a desire to serve the community; and attendance at three HTC meetings, one of which must be a Steering Committee meeting. If you would like more information about the board or just have questions, contact HTC chair Kath Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, June 14, from 6:30 — 8 p.m., at the Joyce Beers Community Center, located at 3900 Vermont St. in the HUB Shopping Center. More information about HTC is online at hillcrestowncouncil.com.
—Mary M. McKenzie is secretary of the Hillcrest Town Council.