*Illustration by Michael Brennan*
  • *Illustration by Michael Brennan*
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On Tuesday, February 7, members of San Diego’s LGBT community gathered to celebrate the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to strike down the ban on gay marriage. Despite the rain, approximately 150 people bearing signs and banners gathered on the corner of Sixth and University avenues at 6 p.m. They marched down University Avenue, receiving supportive honks from drivers as they made their way to the steps of the Joyce Beers Community Center on Vermont Street.

After a brief rally, inside the center, the Uptown Planners board prepared to vote on the proposed construction of a 65-foot-tall flagpole that would display a rainbow flag at the intersection of Normal Street and University Avenue.

For the second time, Hillcrest Business Association executive director Benjamin Nicholls addressed the board’s concerns regarding the project: namely, the construction of such a monument on public land and the flag’s 20-by-30-foot size.

Nicholls cited several examples of large monuments on public land throughout San Diego, in communities such as Little Italy and Barrio Logan. He also reassured the board that construction funds for the flagpole have been raised through private donations and San Diego Pride, which has committed to its annual maintenance cost. Nicholls said no public funds will be utilized for the project.

Twelve people, among the roughly 50 in attendance, also spoke on the issue. One community member “respectfully” spoke against the proposal, stating that diversity is already celebrated in Hillcrest and that the flag may alienate those who do not identify as LGBT.

The 40-minute discussion and presentation ended with the board voting 8 to 6 in favor of the project, with Uptown Planners chair Leo Wilson abstaining from the vote.

The San Diego City Council’s planning commission is expected over the next few weeks to vote on the project. If approved, the Hillcrest Business Association expects to begin construction in June so that the flag is raised at this year’s Pride Festival in July.

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