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"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 np-rid@cox.net.

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Comments

opassons1 March 5, 2010 @ 7:44 a.m.

It's a serious issue that everyone is trying to address. The Park-2-Park Shuttle service will create ways to encourage more responsible enjoyment of our neighborhoods and a great way to get around between North Park, South Park, University Heights and Normal Heights. Working together we believe we can help improve this issue.

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HonestGovernment March 5, 2010 @ 8:14 a.m.

Good luck, NP residents. You are up against an unrelenting adversary: the Economic Development division under Beth Murray, who answers to William Anderson in City Planning and Community Investment. If you have any doubt about who and what these two people are, and what they will do to protect the business asociations in North Park, read Don Bauder's article this week. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20...

Murray and Anderson's sacred and corrupt Business Improvement District programs are given free reign to rule and spend your tax money as they wish (in NP there are three business associations that impose business and property taxes: Adams Ave, NP Main Street, and El Cajon Blvd).

They are not monitored; there is zero oversight; audits are a joke. The City allows them to assess and collect property owner and business owner tax money inside their "engineered" BID boundaries, and the business associations pay themselves huge salaries for the onerous effort of doing so. What's left of your money is used to promote the business associations, to pay for their "retreats," health insurance, mailing costs, travel expenses, meals, consultants ...on and on. A teeny bit of money might be spent on cleaning the vomit off of your sidewalk, once a week, if you are so lucky to own property inside the BID boundary. The teeny bit of money will be nothing compared to the gigantic bit of boasting by the business association as to how they are "improving the quality of your life."

Until San Diego gets rid of and stops electing toadies like Sanders, we'll be stuck with his loyal servants in City Planning and in the City Attorney's office. Their marching orders are to the "run the city like a business," and if you don't like what they sell, then you are kicked out of "their" store.

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HonestGovernment March 5, 2010 @ 8:23 a.m.

opassons1: Oh sure, Omar. Really looking forward to you hauling a bus full of loud-mouth 21-year-old drunks from True North up and down into other neighborhoods, so they can drink in yet another bar. You will have an empty bus if, as you claim, no one who has had "too much to drink" will be allowed to board. Your drinkers' bus plan MAY relieve parking on Ray Street and other neighborhoods, but ONLY if you require proof of paid parking in a public garage or lot, in order to get on the bus.

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Founder March 8, 2010 @ 1:25 p.m.

NP-RID is "simply" asking for equable treatment and solutions to all the problems being caused by our BID Bar/Business Owner neighbors...

Because one of the main reasons for a Redevelopment Project Area to exist, is the removal of "Blight", we are working hard to make the case that in North Park (+ other places in San Diego) they are actually helping to create blight in the RID's by supporting the BID's; and that NP-PAC monies should now be spent to eliminate that "Blight". NP's PAC has given much money to NPMS in the past and I've suggested that now is the time for the Redevelopment Agency to do the same thing for the "NP-RID"... This is NOT just a 30th and University Ave issue; everyone that lives just outside or walking distance from one of the BID's is being impacted right now!

The major issues now facing us are both BID related (lack of enforcement, new alcohol licenses, parking encroachment, late night noise/partying, etc) and City related (Density increases masked as the Mid City Plan Review process, the 2010 Parking Plan that suggests more of the same old NIMBY non change "solutions", the Mobility Plan (a major reconfiguring of Univ. Ave into one lane in each direction for vehicles & one shared lane in each direction for buses & bicycles between Florida St. and I 805, which will push huge amounts of traffic into out neighborhood (and is slated to be started very soon).  These ALL need to be openly discussed with much better public noticing than in the past; the NP-RID's website can help facilitate that!  Our local newspapers get most of their advertising budget from local business and are most careful not to appear supporting residents "against the BID's"...
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Founder March 9, 2010 @ 9:13 a.m.

The Scoping Meeting, Wednesday March 24, 2010 from 6-8 PM. will be a Major Must Attend Meeting that NP-RID will be urging everyone that lives in North Park (or who uses University Ave to commute during rush hour to attend)!

For most of the residents of NP, who have not even heard of the Mobility Plan, here is what is being promoted:

In short, the Mobility Plan will change University Ave into ONE lane in each direction for vehicles and ONE shared lane in each direction for buses and bicycles ONLY, from Florida ST. to I-805...

NP-RID will ask to have the actual plans posted online so we can provide you with a link so you can see what is being proposed; please study it and then share that information with your neighbors. This information will provide everyone with a better understanding of why this meeting will be a MAJOR GAME CHANGER for everyone living in NP. Just imagine what will happen when frustrated drivers decide to use our Residential streets instead of University Ave during rush hour! Our Residential Neighborhoods do not need additional BLIGHT.

NP-RID will also ask Todd Gloria and the Greater North Park Community Planning Committee to join with NP-RID, in asking the City to delay their Scoping Meeting for at least a month, so that we can notice a Special Univ. Mobility Plan (SUMP) Meeting properly. Only this level of public outreach will insure the NP general public is informed about what is actually being proposed and become involved in the decision making process, before it is too late! How are the folks living in North Park expected to make EIR comments if they do not even know what is being proposed?

Time is short, NP-RID will start working to notice everyone in North Park, and would welcome all the other NP Organizations to join NP-RID in calling for a widely noticed, Special Univ. Mobility Plan (SUMP) Meeting to inform the general public, not just their members.

Today is March 8th, so with this MAJOR meeting just about 14 days away! We have our work cut out for us; please let me know if you are willing to chip in to provide flyers, distribute flyers and or help in other ways to get all the folks in the NP Community involved! It will be our short term goal to get more than 100 NP Residents to "fill the NP Recreation Center to overflowing".

If the City/Entitlements Division cannot plan a quality meeting by providing adequate noticing to the public, held at a venue where folks can attend that has adequate parking, then why should we to trust them to seek input and plan NP's future transportation needs; unless by their actions, their goal is to limit public input by making it very difficult for NP's Residents to attend?

NP Needs You NOW, to become informed, attend meetings and then mail or email your comments in ASAP

Don Leichtling Founder, NP-RID NP-RID@cox.net

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habecker March 9, 2010 @ 9:47 a.m.

How ironic that you are opposed to additional blight in the BUSINESS district that you reside in, yet you adamantly oppose the establishment of new restaurants and bars, which have already turned North Park into a destination location for many San Diegans. As the owner of two properties in North Park (within the business district confines) and a resident for over a decade, I'm appaled at your selfish actions in preventing the gentrification of our neighborhood. 10 years ago, I would not have walked down 30th street alone after dusk. Now, I feel safer there than I do downtown. I can tell you this: there are residential property owners in the business district, other than myself, that are adamantly oppossed to your efforts and see how they stem from not the desire to see the community benefit as a whole, but your own selfish desires.

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Founder March 9, 2010 @ 4:53 p.m.

Yes I guess I'm guilty of "selfish desires" as you put it because I don't want the folks that leave the Bars & Clubs between 11 PM and 2 AM staggering toward their cars leaving trash, bottles and cans along the way disturbing the folks that live in my neighborhood! + For the record, I do not live in the Business District, I live in the RID or Residential Improvement District which is located within walking distance of the Business Improvement District commonly called NPMS.

NP-RID is always happy to support our neighborhood friendly businesses, whose Owners, employees and patrons treat the folks (especially after midnight) living in the neighborhood with respect; ! We do have issues with the folks that don't. I'm happy to report that I have never heard one person at a NP-RID meeting speak about banning any business. We are very concerned with are the numbers of Alcohol Licenses being requested and we don't support additional licenses for Big Box Clubs or "Restaurants" that morph into "Clubs" and stay open noisily to 2AM before their patron leave. (Perhaps we should refer to "Clubs" as places with Dancing, DJ's & Loud Noise and "Restaurants" as places to enjoy eating a great meal). Everyone welcomes more "Restaurants" but we know how easy they can morph into "Clubs" disguised as "Restaurants" if they are sold or change their "Business Plan". If more "Clubs" is what you refer to as, "gentrification of our neighborhood" then again, I guess I'm selfish! I maintain that most folks would feel the same way as we do...

  • If you want a second opinion, try talking to the majority of the Residential folks that live anywhere near Bluefoot, True North or U-31 and remember it's the slow season now, things will be less wonderful when Summer rolls around.
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Moose March 11, 2010 @ 3:12 p.m.

More people need to speak up for the small business owners of North Park who are striving to make our community a better place. Namely, the restaurant and bar owners unfairly slandered by a cantankerous old man bent on impeding economic progress at all costs and those who believe his lies.

I live in North Park two blocks south of University Ave and revel in my proximity to wonderful food and entertainment after living in a sleepy town the previous three years of my life. I am married and plan to start a family. And I love North Park's burgeoning social scene. In fact, that is why we bought our house in North Park. It was definitely not the most affordable house, and it certainly was not the biggest, of the homes we viewed when we first moved to San Diego. However, what this house did have was a wonderful surrounding neighborhood that appeared to be taking off! My husband and I like to say that what we ended up buying was not so much the house, as the neighborhood of North Park.

My husband and I have frequented all the establishments listed in this article (something I'm sure Mr. Leichtling and other protestors have NOT done) and appreciate their honest business practices and good food and drinks. These establishments are NOT seedy, do not promote drunkenness and are not “a BLIGHT” on North Park, a term highly favored by the naysayers. After visiting these establishments, I for one, lament the prospect of a moratorium on licensing in North Park because this will do nothing good for our community. North Park is growing in popularity with young families and young professionals, two demographics whose influx bodes well for any community. Property values go up and the rate of crime goes down. And of course, retail establishments soon follow the bars and restaurants. This is the natural course in the gentrification of any neighborhood and I fail to see why Mr. Leichtling and his followers so vehemently oppose these positive changes. I strongly feel that Mr. Leichtling's blaming the businesses of North Park for “revelers urinating on his bushes or sleeping on the hood of his SUV” as well as “a couple getting it on on the front lawn" is ABSURD and unwarranted. Unless he asked these individuals where they had spent the last several hours prior to fornicating in his yard or urinating on his bushes, there is no way of knowing. Blaming innocent restaurant owners whose business efforts have improved the overall quality of life in North Park is wrong and uncharacteristic of a good neighbor.

These protests against the businesses of North Park smack of a good ol' witch hunt and I wish more North Park residents would overtly support these business owners. Maybe then, the naysayers will be silenced and will cease unjustly blaming others for random events in the community. Bottom line, North Park is growing and no one has ever truly stood in the way of progress.

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Founder March 16, 2010 @ 2:41 p.m.

Moose, I wonder why you don't use your real name, unless you are scared that your neighbors (if you really do live in NP) will thank you for your comments! That said, I enjoyed reading what you wrote and wish I was able to write as well as you do.

Again, Let me repeat that we should refer to "Clubs" as places with Dancing, DJ's & Loud Noise that are open until 2 AM and "Restaurants" as places to enjoy eating a great meal, that create no neighborhood noise and close around midnight).

  1. Everyone welcomes more "Restaurants" but we also know how easy they can morph into "Clubs" disguised as "Restaurants"; if they are sold or change their "Business Plan". If more "Clubs" are what you refer to "make our community a better place", I think you are "out of touch".

  2. Your statement that "Property values go up and the rate of crime goes down. And of course, retail establishments soon follow the bars and restaurants." is backwards! Want proof, visit the Awesome website that PB has http://www.pbspirits.com/ and you will learn that Crime goes up with the number of liquor licenses not down as you believe. NP is only behind PB in crime, what is that, bad luck?

  3. "Witch Hunt" is just another label for ideas and opinions that you don't personally agree with! I'm sorry to say that in the past, some folks in NP have had the tendency to start calling other folks names when they do not like their position but over time the truth usually wins out; time will tell!

  4. As far as me "Blaming innocent restaurant owners whose business efforts have improved the overall quality of life in North Park is wrong and uncharacteristic of a good neighbor" let me be the first to say (again) that for myself (and my "followers"!) I have no gripes with Restaurant owners that are good neighbors but I do have gripes with Club Owners that allow their patrons to make North Park less of an attractive place to live, especially after Midnight.

p.s. My neighbor Lucky Morrison (who I just read your comments to) says he is calling you out! Let us know who are and if you really live in NP; then let's get together and talk face to face like real neighbors!

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jmtrudeau April 6, 2010 @ 1:23 p.m.

Haha, people getting it on, on the lawn. Maybe they were filming "Hipsters Gone Wild" It is north park after all.

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