Thank you for the time you took to talk with me at the recent Hillcrest Town Council social at Uptown Tavern on 7-7-17. Glad you remembered my brief presentation at your last San Diego City Council meeting and the photo of Paris. Unfortunately I’m still left with disappointment at your final and what I think will prove devastating, vote regarding the Uptown Community Plan. Your vote to essentially ‘rubber stamp’ demands by the Gateway Group will allow buildings of 10-20 story heights in areas that would have been so much better served with the height limits and set-backs proposed by Uptown Planners. Two key points relate to my disappointment:
1) Uptown Planners is the democratically elected group of representatives for the area concerned. After years of negotiation and countless hours of discussion, a very clear majority of Uptown Planners voted in favor of height limits in the core of Hillcrest. The well funded Gateway Group was a latecomer to the planning process and stands to gain tremendously (financially if not aesthetically) from the lack of height limits which is essentially what your vote allows.
2) You referred to a big difference between the overall density proposed by Uptown Planners and that which your vote approved (I like to refer to it as the “Gateway Grab”). I believe the overall number of units in the Uptown Planners was close to the same. The main difference being, height limits and distribution of development.
You mentioned that ‘Gateway is not a done deal’ and encouraged me along with others to ‘remain involved’. Unfortunately, Uptown Planners and residents like myself, have jobs, and other commitments besides civic volunteering and activism. The Gateway Group’s job and only commitment, is to ‘maximize return on property owned’. Without mandated height limits, it is only a matter of time before the Gateway Group has its way and the Hillcrest we know and love, is gone.
You hinted at my being new to the neighborhood and perhaps not fully understanding the situation. I beg to differ. After eight years in Hillcrest, I understand pretty well what I love about the place and what I’d hate for it to become, a bunch of high rise buildings and more congested streets in the heart and core of Hillcrest. The argument that high rise buildings equates to more affordability is patently false as is the argument that only high rise buildings allow compliance with the climate action plan.
Uptown Planners deserved a better hearing as did the community which they represent. Democracy was not served, nor was the unique character of Hillcrest.
PS: I still think the photo of the Marais in Paris is proof enough that height limits are essential to preserving character.