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June 7,
Balboa Park trail up the granite Juniper Steps
Balboa Park’s new & improved trails
Jerry Schad and Park Ranger Casey Smith led hikes along Balboa Park’s new trail system yesterday following their inauguration at Sixth & Upas. One of the additions is the Juniper Staircase (at right). The beautiful granite creation brings hikers back to the west mesa from Cabrillo Canyon.
Five numbered trails (ranging from 1.5 to 6.5 miles) radiate out from the NW corner of Balboa Park at Sixth & Upas. Each trail is suitable for walking, running and sometimes skating or biking. The routes utilize everything from smooth sidewalks to rough paths darting up and down the park’s steep canyonsides. All are configured as loops, and their designated direction takes maximum advantage of the scenery.

A satellite image-based map was merged with a series of GPS-documented routes, a significant advancement in park signage designed to highlight topography, incorporating park landmarks to help guide the user and gauge the level of difficulty of the trails. The routes are marked with color-coded numbered signs to show distance, degree of difficulty and change of route direction. A committed group of community volunteers envisioned and developed this system in partnership and with guidance from the Department of Park & Recreation and the Balboa Park Committee.

Across Florida Canyon a second gateway serving four more trails is located at the Morley Field sports complex. More trails emanating in Golden Hill, the Park Administration parking lot and Marston Point are planned. The longer trails tend to visit the more hidden areas, such as the “Marston Hills Addition” section of the park, a branching canyon bottom that touches several of Hillcrest’s residential streets.

Maps of the trails (and more) may be obtained as PDF downloads when visiting www.balboapark.org/maps/maps.php or check out the fold-out maps in this book. FYI: Jerry Schad’s “Afoot and Afield San Diego County” is the definitive guidebook for local and regional hiking. (An article on the new trail system by Jerry will be in the next copy of HillQuest, an Urban Guide, which will begin distribution at our advertisers the end of this month.)
June 6,
Hillcrest Town Council logoThe Hillcrest Town Council (HTC) will hold their June meeting next Tuesday at 6:30pm in the Joyce Beers Community Center (Vermont Street north of Cleveland). Items on the agenda include: the city’s new water restrictions; a dialog with several bar/club owners who will listen to concerns and share their efforts to be good neighbors; and the HTC is encouraging residents to give input on what types of new businesses they would support in our neighborhood. Suggestions will be shared with the Hillcrest Business Association. Refreshments will be provided by local restaurant Bobbo Grande. The monthly meetings are open to the public.
All Hillcrest residents are encourgaged attend and participate.
June 5,

Hillcrest Town Council chair John Taylor at the June meeting of the Uptown Planners

At the Uptown Partnership’s monthly meeting Thursday evening, John Taylor (at left) chair of the Hillcrest Town Council read a statement asking the Partnership to listen and acknowledge through actions the comments and resolutions from several community organizations. The Partnership engaged with and responded to community members in the audience by changing the $1.9M budget initially allocated for new parking meters to $550K and continue to reserve the remaining $1.4M for future parking solutions in Uptown. Additionally, the Partnership agreed to hold a community meeting in July to review existing projects in the budget. After discussion, the board agreed to not actively promote the Mayor’s Uptown Planners board at their June 2009 meetingParking Utilization Plan, but to support tools within the plan.

Also on the agenda was an action item on the proposed crosswalk at the corner of Fifth Avenue & Spruce Street. Staff reported that the project (which includes pedestrian activated flashing lights placed in the crosswalk pavement) would cost $25,000 more than originally approved and recommended delaying the additional cost in hopes that the city would find funding to cover the overrun. After comments from the audience re: the dangerous conditions and one pedestrian death, the board (with two desenters) approved staff’s recommendation. After the meeting had proceeded, boardmember Jim Frost asked to reopen the matter for more discussion. Acknowledging the urgency, the board reconsidered and voted to fund the crosswalk.

Community members viewed the responsiveness of the Uptown Partnership board as a positive step towards a renewed commitment to receive and to work with community concerns.
June 4,

William Wesley Whitson

William Wesley Whitson (1866-1958) One of the handful of businessmen who deeded tracts of land in uptown for development in the early 1900s. Whitson’s 40-acre tract (the former George Hill Estate purchased in 1906 for $115,000) was located northwest of Sixth & University avenues. Laura Anderson, his sister-in-law, suggested a name for his new development. Then, as hundreds of trolley riders passed WWW’s small wooden structure announcing his HILLCREST Tract Office the name caught on and eventually encompassed the surrounding neighborhood that is now loved by so many. Because of WWW the community where we live is called “Hillcrest.” Mr. Whitson is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery near the monument for Alonzo Horton the “Father of San Diego.”

Amy Whitson, her children and grandparents,

RIP: Robert Douglas Whitson, Jr.
William Wesley Whitson’s great great granddaughter Amy has informed us that her grandfather “Grandpa Whitson” (Robert Douglas Whitson, Jr.) passed away this morning at Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest. “We knew the time was coming but didn’t think it’d be so soon,” said Amy Whitson, at right with her children and grandparents, Gloria and Robert Douglas. Funeral arrangements will be posted when available.
June 3,

Hillcrest restaurant to raise funds for San Diego Center for Children

St. Tropez Bistro & Bakery is hosting a silent auction event with the Sargeant Art Group to the benefit of the San Diego Center for Children this Friday evening, June 5th, beginning at 5pm. The Hillcrest restaurant will be serving small appetizers at the free event. The Sargeant Art Group is a local group of artists who are donating their paintings to raise money for the SD Center for Children.

June 2,
Hillcrest Business Association VP Nancy Moors, Meredith Dibben-Brown with the City of SD and Mike Wright at a special board meeting to discuss the Mayor Parking Proposaleting of t

HBA holds special meeting to address Mayor Sanders’ new parking plan

The Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) held a special two-hour board meeting this evening to discuss Mayor Sanders’ Parking Utilization Proposal. The plan, in essence, would provide for the mayor to implement extended meter hours (including Sunday and until 11pm) and the ability to change the rates charged in order to achieve an optimum utilization rate of 85%. “Hotspots” like the core of Hillcrest would be likely areas for increased rates. The mayor would seek direction from community parking districts. The Uptown Partnership addresses parking issues in the communities of Hillcrest, Bankers Hill, Mission Hills and Five Points.

After much discussion, two motions were made by boardmember Steve Moore. The first motion was to endorse the letter sent to the Uptown Partnership from Council Districts 2 and 3 (which represent Uptown). The letter stated that any process involving funds from the public should be open and transparent; the Uptown Partnership should consider expanding the number of board members and adjust the method of board member selection; work with the City Attorney’s office to examine alternative methods for boardmember appointment; implement a system of term limits; and finally form a Joint Standing Committee to focus exclusively on potential solutions to parking problems in the Hillcrest business district. The motion was unanimously passed. The second motion was to exclude Hillcrest and the Uptown community from the Mayor’s Parking Utilization Proposal. It passed 6-4.

The Uptown Partnership will hold its monthly board meeting this Thursday at 4:30pm in their office at 3108 Fifth Avenue. One item on the agenda will be “to review and comment on a memorandum of understanding prepared by the Hillcrest Business Association for the Hillcrest project committee established in May 2009” at the direction of Councilmembers Todd Gloria and Kevin Faulconer.

The next regular board meeting for the HBA will be held next Tuesday, June 9th at 5pm in the Joyce Beers Community Center (followed by the Hillcrest Town Council at 6:30pm).

“I always wanted a new contract because I thought that since I was doing all the work — doing everything to run and build this thing — that I should probably get a better deal.”
Hillcrest Farmers Market manager David Larson
June 2,

Uptown Planners meeting, June 2, 2009

Uptown Planners give thumbs down to the Uptown Partnership

The Uptown Planners held their monthly meeting on Tuesday evening in the Joyce Beers Community Center. The first item for a new Shiraz Medical Center, at 101 Dickinson Street, was rejected as well as a street vacation for West Quince at Front Street. A variance for the residence at 3919 Pringle Street was approved. Two of the most contentious items were issues regarding the makeup of the Uptown Community Plan stakeholders group and a motion to dissolve the Uptown Partnership, this community’s parking management group since 1997.

The Planners Advisory Committee recommended that the Uptown Planners be considered “committee as a whole” to act as the Uptown Community Plan Update Advisory Committee. William Anderson, Director of Planning for the city suggested that the stakeholders group be made up of the Uptown Planners board and another diverse group that represents other factions of the community such as environmental, historic, community organizations, business districts and the medical community. Anderson expressed concerned that the group would get “bogged down” in the selection proces, putting the Interim Height deadline in jeopardy. He also shared that the state’s economic troubles were filtering down to the city level, and that projects like this may be subject to losing funding. The Planners approved the proposal 14-2-1.

In a separate issue, a motion was made to have San Diego City Council Districts 2 and 3 appoint a new board to the Uptown Partnership, not renew their contract, distribute meter revenues proportionately in each community and keep overhead at approximately 10%. There was much discussion with motions made to remove the item from consideration (which failed 11-2-4) another motion to table the item (failed 11-3-3). The motion was ultimately approved 8-6-3. Bob Grinchuk who’s on the board of both organizations submitted that the motion was outside the purview of the planners and also criticized chair Leo Wilson for conducting the discussion in a biased manner.

June 1,

Uptown Planners

Attend this Uptown Planners meeting on Tuesday evening

Interested in the future of Hillcrest and the rest of Uptown? Attend tomorrow night’s Uptown Planners meeting. This group oversees land-use issues in Hillcrest, University Heights, Bankers Hill/Park West & Mission Hills. The volunteers meet the first Tuesday of every month at 6pm in the Joyce Beers Community Center (on Vermont Street just north of Cleveland Avenue).

The Uptown Planners will be the overseers for community wishes for the Uptown Community Plan update. Come give your input..or just listen and learn. Should other organizations and individuals be included in the stakeholder group, as well? If so, who? Do you have a vision for Hillcrest?