Her name appears on our community center in the Uptown District, but who was Joyce Beers? She was an active and community-minded woman who was instrumental in shaping the early organizational elements of the Hillcrest. And she was a proponent of many projects that changed the face of our neighborhood.
Joyce was a champion of public transit and neighborhood revitalization. She loved Hillcrest. For 16 years Joyce served on the San Diego Transit Board and received a special commendation from SANDAG for her work on public transportation.
From Joyce’s husband and daughter… Hillcrest was the first Business Improvement District in all of San Diego. Areas like North Park and Normal Heights have taken their inspiration from our organization and the Hillcrest sign. Speaking of the sign. The first CityFest was a sign relighting celebration (which was basically run out of the Beers family garage). The sign had been a non-functional eyesore for years. Mom thought refurbishing it would be a good rallying point for gathering donations and provide a symbol of the rebirth of a neighborhood. It worked.
This is where I think mom’s real gift was, interpersonal diplomacy. She was able to bring together gay and non-gay business owners, getting them to see that they had common goals and interests. There were some “old school” business owners at that time who thought that the increasing number of gay and lesbian business owners meant that the neighborhood was going straight to hell in a handbag. Mom got them all to sit down together and realize that arguing about who sleeps with whom was irrelevant while creating a positive, inclusive, cohesive group for everyone would benefit everyone.
I thought you might like to know that mom was instrumental in founding the first homeless shelter in San Diego (at the YWCA downtown) specifically for women and children providing a secure refuge from domestic violence. She was very proud of that. This was at a time when domestic violence was not really even being talked about, much less anything getting done about it.
The 92103 resident and activist was also the co-founder of the Uptown Community Planning Committee, serving as its chair from 1971 to 1973 then again from 1975 to 1976. Joyce ran for District 2’s City Council seat in 1979, the year that Bill Cleator was elected. Her many accomplishments include being President of the League of Women Voters from 1973 to 1975 and the first Executive Director of the Hillcrest Association in 1984. Joyce Beers died in 1989 at the age of 60. It’s a proper fit to have our central neighborhood meeting hall named in her honor.
Click here for a timeline of other important women in our community.