Dammed If You Do for Serving the Public at Large

| March 31, 2024 | 0 Comments

During my entire career, starting as young as 16, I have served on various non-profit organizations.  That’s because my parents made it known that we needed to donate our time and energies to doing good in our communities.

When I look back, I realize I have served on upwards of 25 different non-profit organizations, including the Union of Pan Asian Communities, the San Diego Zoo, the Epilepsy Society, the Children’s Museum, California Council of the Humanities, Coalition for Equality, Mission Hills Town Council (founding member) and Uptown Planners.

I always believed and was motivated to serve on boards to make a positive difference in our community and to help improve the quality of life for those we served.

Unfortunately, there are people who join boards because they have an agenda.  And it’s not to create goodwill.

Who does that?

People who have a focus on financial gain at the expense of those who do goodwill.  

For the past two years, I have served as an “elected” member of the Uptown Planners board.  It has been one of my biggest challenges because it requires major obligation to understand the dynamics of the City of San Diego.  Over the last several years, we have been faced with more challenges than any time of this city. 

For those of you who don’t know, the Uptown Planners serves in an advisory role to the City of San Diego on topics related to land-use, development, and discretionary projects in the six neighborhoods of Uptown. We provide a forum for public discussion of planning issues in Uptown. Our board and committee meetings are open to the public at large. The meeting agenda is based on input from residents, business owners, project applicants, and City staff who seek advice from the board as part of the City’s community planning process.

We also hold elections annually and this past month added 10 new people to the board.  Those are people who you elected.  This is a very diverse group of individuals ranging in ages from throughout the Uptown community who are renters, homeowners, and business owners who want to be your voice, the voice of Uptown.   

Because of the efforts of our elected officials who also have an agenda, which is to drive density in the Uptown community and La Jolla, both existing planning groups are being challenged by individuals who claim they want to create more diversity. 

The fact is that’s not the reason. 

The fact is, the current planning groups are not made up of puppets who say yes to any project brought before them. 

They are comprised of concerned and knowledgeable individuals who aren’t afraid to question and challenge the city and the developers on their array of projects, some good, others not good.

What I have come to understand is that there are politicians and developers who initiated the YIMBY campaign. And anyone who doesn’t commit to their propaganda will be treated in a hostile manner.

They attack the current planning groups and make claims that they are made up of “old white, homeowners,” which is far from the truth. 

The YIMBY groups even go to the “other” press to fuel these lies and leave out the facts and truth.

The Uptown Planning group does ask the tough questions: “Does it make sense?” “Is this fiscally sound?” “Does this really serve the community at large?” “Is there a better way to do this?”

The competing group for Uptown claims they would match the local demographics and be more effective leaders. 

The irony is that some of those same people previously served on the Uptown Planners board and were observed as ineffective and some biased (due to the careers and connections) toward the developers.  Others ran for the board and weren’t elected for that same reason.

I will emphasize, it is the community who elected the Uptown Planners’ board members.  They weren’t handpicked by politicians and developers who are driving the density campaign.

Regarding the YIMBY movement, I’ve done some additional research and found the following.

In a 2020 paper on the density campaign subject, it was found that new construction increased rents by 6.7 percent in nearby lower-priced housing.

According to Kevin Erdmann, the author of “Building from the Ground Up,” and a firm believer in the power of zoning liberally, “The one major study of land-use reforms across the United States shows that, during the three to nine years after a city enacts upzoning and other density-increasing measures, new housing supply increased by less than one percent. That increase occurs primarily at the high end of the market, and there’s little evidence that new supply frees up additional low-cost units or makes them cheaper.”

Isn’t that telling…

Uptown Planners board members use every opportunity to understand the needs of the communities we serve, here’s what you’ve expressed to us.  You want the following:

  • Public Spaces that provide public amenities with neighborhood parks, recreational facilities geared to children and adults (playgrounds, tennis/pickleball/gyms/senior centers), and dog parks.

  • Street safety to include sidewalks, roadways, bike zones, crosswalks that make sense in the neighborhoods involved. Not a one-size fits all approach.
  • Building development with respectable emphasis on the neighborhood character, which includes concern for height, density, off-street parking, and design. 
  • Affordability to include very low, low, and medium mixed income.
  • Infrastructure, in place at the time of development to sustain the community neighborhood, to include schools, safety (emergency medical, police, fire), transportation (public, bike, auto, pedestrian), public spaces   
  • Most importantly, community engagement by the City and its departments to show cooperation and collaboration…working together to do what is best for the residents of Uptown.

As you can tell, the Uptown Planners board is working on your behalf to make sure that whatever we communicate and decide is truly accountable and accurate…and inclusive.

And if it’s not obvious, we’ve spent a lot of time and attention on making sure we’re doing what’s best for the Uptown community.  That’s because we were elected to represent you.

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Category: feature, Government, Local News, Nonprofit, Volunteers

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