Letters to the editor – Dec. 16

Posted: December 16th, 2016 | Featured, Letters to the Editor, Opinion | No Comments

Excellent coverage of CPUs

Thanks for providing timely and factual news on the Community Plan Updates for Uptown, North Park and Greater Golden Hill.

Thanks, too, for publishing so many opinions and letters. They provided a diverse range of ideas on the plans.  

I would love to see you interview a rational participant in each community plan and have them compare and contrast the process and outcomes.

I’ve been involved in Uptown issues since moving here in 1984. Nothing much has changed, but fewer people can afford to live here and Hillcrest has gone straight downhill. The 1988 plan update included a downzone but protected canyons and open space. The proposed 2016 update was a downzone but gave us a greater possibility of mixed uses.

We wasted seven years and more than $2 million arguing.

The endless arguments rarely produced a millimeter of movement one way or the other between the no-growth/historic preservation crowd and those who want sustainable growth. Every meeting I attended was split 50/50 — if there were 12 people there or 200. Zero consensus. That’s what Todd Gloria saw and he acted on it to get something done. He has more political and citywide experience than anybody else involved (aide, council member, interim mayor, council member, now elected to the Assembly). He was the right person to break the logjam.

San Diego needs architectural review. We cannot write plans that produce good design or keep up with change.

The community planning groups should be reconstituted as the review boards.

This process works incredibly well in Santa Barbara, California. We laugh about Santa Barbara and the time it takes to get approvals and the cost of construction. But it’s faster and cheaper than San Diego! And they actually create a community fabric of which most people are proud — and agree that infrastructure (transit, parks, open space, fire/police, schools) is pretty good.

I’d love to see architectural review in San Diego. I think it would address most of the concerns people have about density and height.

It drives architects nuts.

But there would be so much more work for architects I think they might handle the criticisms.

—Peter H. St. Clair of Mission Hills via email

More on Uptown CPU

Re: Uptown Community Plan Update coverage at

Experience teaches us what to expect from developers in the Hillcrest core:

  • Buildings aimed at the well-above-median buyer.
  • Promised great public amenities, which turn out to be dog water dishes and flower pots.
  • Lip service to use of public transit, but upscale occupants who would be mortified to ride a bus.
  • More vehicles on our already-choked through streets.

The Hillcrest Business Association aims at an urban Mission Beach with bars and pizza slices everywhere. Maybe it is time to shop North Park or East Village.

—David Cohen of Hillcrest via email

Bicycles vs. parking spots

Re: “Letters,” Vol. 8, Issue 25” or at

Kudos to Todd Gloria for vowing to fill the dangerous bike network gap on University Avenue created by the Hillcrest Business Association. This gap wasn’t the result of a “very delicate compromise,” as Bob Martynec’s letter states, but rather the tens of thousands of dollars the HBA paid lobbyist California Strategies to kill the Uptown Bikeway, behind closed doors at SANDAG.

Martynec also describes unpaid, volunteer bike advocates as “extremist biking lobbyists” for daring to want a single safe bike route through Hillcrest. Meanwhile, Martynec shares a Hillcrest residence with Uptown Parking District director and extremist parking lobbyist Tim Gahagan. Gahagan, along with HBA Uptown Parking directors, strongly opposes any safety improvements in Hillcrest that would even minimally impact parking. Could this be because the tenants of Gahagan’s Hillcrest rental property enjoy free (city-subsidized) on-street parking?

As San Diego aims to implement Vision Zero and Climate Action Plan projects, Gahagan and the HBA are leading a rogue, city-funded parking district against these programs. Most recently, the Hillcrest directors voted to demand SANDAG kill the Fourth/Fifth Avenue Bikeway in Hillcrest. Uptown Parking’s mission statement says it will “consider biking” — not actively oppose it.

Nearly every foot of curb space, on nearly every Hillcrest street, is devoted exclusively to on-street parking. This totals thousands of on- and off-street spaces. Yet when asked how many could be re-allocated to safe bike lanes, director Gahagan responded, “10.” I’m grateful that the actions of these self-interested residents and business owners will be corrected by the city. Our lives are worth more than a parking space.

—Paul Jameson via our website, 

‘So frightening’

Re: “Remembering the 1985 Normal Heights Fire,” Vol. 8, Issue 7 or at

I lived in the house from which this photo was taken; the photographer was my roommate! I’ll never forget this day; it was so frightening. One house would be fine and the next house gone in flames. I stood on the roof with a hose most of the day despite warnings to evacuate. Everything in our house had smoke damage.

—Amy via our website 

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