"We're not baking cookies, and we're not brewing coffee here, either, we're reaching out and we're mobilizing," says North Park resident Don Leichtling as he sits inside the living room of his lavender Craftsman house two blocks from the intersection of 30th and University Avenue.
Leichtling grows animated as he explains the North Park Residential Improvement District (NP-RID) that he and neighbors formed to address concerns over crowded residential streets caused by business parking during the day and from the large clubs and bars at night. The Residential Improvement District's mission is clear: provide North Park residents living within the business impact zone (BIZ) an outlet to voice their concerns and change the direction the neighborhood is headed.
Ever since True North opened in February 2009, Leichtling has been roused from sleep in the middle of the night to find revelers urinating on his bushes or sleeping on the hood of his SUV. One night, Leichtling woke up to a couple getting it on on the front lawn.
And while residents are upset about the current impacts, many fear the problem will worsen. Currently, a dozen establishments have applications for alcohol licenses in North Park. While all 12 are located within blocks of 30th and University, the businesses vary from Thai restaurants and pizza places to nightclubs and bars, such as the Smoking Goat, Urban Pizza/Bar -- a microbrewery from the owners of True North -- and the Dirty Laundry Lounge, a Laundromat that allows patrons to get spun while their clothes tumble dry.
"We realize that greater North Park is not interested in our problems. There's not people on their front lawn at two in the morning or sleeping on the hood of their car," says Leichtling. "If we don't put a stop to this now, by summertime, game over. Instead of having one True North, we'll have six."
Leichtling and the 40 or so members of the Residential Improvement District are wasting no time trying to stop the influx of bars and clubs to the neighborhood. Leichtling has spoken to Pacific Beach residents that have dealt with similar issues. "We have got almost a hundred protests against the [True North Micro-Brewery] and almost the same for the Urban Pizza/Bar."
On Friday, March 5, Leichtling and a couple of neighbors will meet with a representative from councilmember Todd Gloria's office. Two weeks later, Leichtling hopes to meet with Jennifer Hill, administrator for San Diego's branch of the Alcohol Beverage Control, and representatives from the city's Police Department to discuss the number of drinking establishments looking to open in North Park.
"I've been sending emails out. I want people coming to this meeting to know what's going on, so then we can talk some turkey."
To contact the North Park Residential Improvement District send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.