Rival Groups Challenge Uptown and La Jolla CPGs

| March 31, 2024 | 0 Comments

By Mat Wahlstrom

This past month, the City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee voted to recommend which community planning group (CPG) will better represent the planning areas of La Jolla and Uptown: those currently elected, or those vetted for appointment by the mayor.

This represents the culmination of a years-long effort to paint elected CPGs as not representative of their communities by virtue of the fact that the people elected can’t be counted on to toe an ideological line.

Much like a shell game, in which an object is hidden under a number of covers which are shuffled around, the existing CPGs have been repeatedly tasked to guess how to meet first this qualification or that operating procedure. And just like a shell game, the mark is never right and the ringer in the audience who is clued in gets the right answer. It is a confidence trick rigged to perpetrate fraud — with the residents of San Diego the victims.

It hasn’t mattered how many times the motives behind CPG reform have been exposed as false or how the criteria for what the city means by “diverse representation” have been exposed as pro-developer conformity. Yet we have still been engaging in good faith in a bad faith effort, to prevent the evisceration of our most local level of democratic representation.

The broad outlines have been described and decried on this site and others, so let’s look at what’s specifically at issue for today’s discussion.

In Uptown, the existing Uptown Planners is being challenged by a group called Vibrant Uptown, people who are “super enthused at the prospect of more diverse voices representing the Uptown neighborhood” — as their supporters’ public comments repeat verbatim.

All along, the Planning Department as an appendage of the mayor, has protested that it won’t put its thumb on the scale, that it would fairly and equitably present data related to each group and leave it strictly up to the City Council to decide.

Here are some of the many distortions in the staff report:  

•       Vibrant Uptown would have quotas requiring an equal number of renters and property owners for our six neighborhoods, each of different populations and demographics and percentages of renters to owners, plus reserve a third of all seats for businesses and organizations.

•       The income of 83 percent of reported Vibrant Uptown members already exceeds the income of two-thirds of the Uptown population, compared to only 21 percent of the incumbent Uptown Planners members.

•       A full page devoted to Race and Ethnicity and Vibrant Uptown’s supposed superiority in this category, the data actually reveals that Uptown Planners is 14 percent non-white and Vibrant Uptown only 8 percent non-white.

•       Similarly, the analysis of Household Income reveals Uptown Planners has 21 percent low, 57 percent medium and 21 percent high incomes, while Vibrant Uptown has 8 percent low, 8 percent medium and 83 percent high incomes.

•       Regarding Age, they work from “the majority of the population” — which includes those under eighteen and thus skews the data toward that end. But even then, 21 percent of Uptown Planners members are age 60-69 compared to 25 percent of Vibrant Uptown members.

The worst lie comes at the end, where the staff concludes that Vibrant Uptown would be preferable for having a standing committee for community engagement, blatantly ignoring that Uptown Planners has had one for years, our Operations and Outreach Committee.  

And of course, any appointed CPG would need to hold elections — supposedly within ninety days, but that still hasn’t been determined. So all the appointed groups information will fly out the window once those results are tallied.

Uptown Planners has always worked together to find the points of agreement needed to speak as one for the six neighborhoods in Uptown. By intentionally structuring themselves by neighborhood and business interests, they will Balkanize and weaken the effectiveness of Uptown’s CPG — a perhaps not unintended consequence.

And from what I understand, these same concerns regarding fuzzy numbers and cherry-picked conclusions also plague the analysis of the two La Jolla CPG groups to identical effect.

As in every shell game, the point is to keep people guessing: to believe in their ability to win at a game which specifically preys on their good faith efforts to follow rules that aren’t real enforced by those who are self-dealing.

I urge everyone to keep following the bouncing ball as it rolls to the full City Council for consideration, currently set for May 14.

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