On Monday, April 26, San Diego's City Planning and Community Investment Department is sponsoring a "Community Plan Update Open Mic Meeting" in the Santa Fe Room of the Balboa Park Club from 6 to 9 p.m.
Collaborative Services Incorporated, a consultant firm located in San Diego, is organizing the open-mic night, which according to an email from Kristina Meek, a representative from Collaborative Services, offers organizations the opportunity to "share their knowledge and expertise" on the community plan updates in Uptown, North Park, and Greater Golden Hill communities.
While community organizations are encouraged to "share their knowledge" during the event, community leaders and neighborhood preservationists are calling the gig a "dog and pony show." They feel the City and their consultants are not interested in hearing ideas from the communities.
"The community plan updates for Uptown, North Park, and Golden Hill will define the new development for the next 20 to 25 years," writes Tom Mullaney, president of neighborhood preservation group, Friends of San Diego. "The question is, will these three communities be able to preserve the features that the residents cherish, or will their neighborhoods be bulldozed to make room for new high density development?"
Mullaney's assumptions appeared to be spot on when his request to present at the open-mic night event was denied by the event organizer.
Mullaney objected to San Diego Senior Planner Bernie Turgeon and chair of the Uptown Planners Leo Wilson, and he lodged additional complaints to City planners. A day later, William Anderson, San Diego's Director of City Planning and Development, responded with assurances that Mullaney and The Friends of San Diego will be allowed to present at the open-mic meeting.
Despite the City's capitulation, Mullaney and other community activists remain skeptical about the process.
"Many of us get the feeling that community input is being sought as a formality, while the City Planning Department and their hired consultants work on their design for our communities," writes Mullaney.
The Friends of San Diego will be the last to speak during the April 26 meeting. Here is a list of the presenters and the order in which they will take the mic:
- Urban Land Institute
- Council of Design Professionals
- American Institute of Architects
- San Diego Bicycle Coalition
- Active Living, SDSU
- Walk San Diego
- San Diego Canyonlands
- North Park Historical Society
- Sustainable Neighborhoods, USGBC/SD
- Uptown Partnership
- Hillcrest Business Association
- Community Gardens/1 in 10 Coalition
- South Park Business Group
- Friends of San Diego