Hillcrest Flagpole Debate Continues at City Hall

Proposal to build 65-foot-tall flagpole expected to be discussed during City Council meeting

By Lauren Steussy and Greg Bledsoe
|  Tuesday, May 15, 2012  |  Updated 5:11 PM PDT
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City Hall Approves Hillcrest Flag Permit

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The San Diego City Council voted Tuesday afternoon to permit a large rainbow-colored flag in the city's most gay-friendly neighborhood.

The proposed 65-foot-tall flag pole will be built in a median on University Avenue and Normal Street in Hillcrest. Construction will begin in June. The flag was ordered immediately after the meeting.

The Hillcrest Business Association says it will pay for the construction of the pole -- about $25,000. Private donors are expected to cover maintenance.

However community planners only approved the idea on an 8 to 6 vote, and the city's Planning Commission rejected it 4 to 2, with one abstention. The Hillcrest Business Association appealed to the City Council for a permit last week.

The controversy centers over the precedence the flagpole would set, and what it may or may not accomplish in the community. A handful of community members showed up to Tuesday's meeting in opposition to the flag.

"It is in no way cohesive," said North Park resident MaryLou Ruane. "To me, it would be a divisive thing for the people who live in the rest of the community. Or who come there."

Yet talking to visitors and residents in the area, you wouldn't know there was any controversy. The meeting, too, was well-attended by Pride flag-waving supporters.

"This is like a gay community area anyway, so I'm surprised that there's not one already up here," said City Heights resident Theresa Wesley.

Other residents didn't see why there should be any debate among city politicians.

"There are rainbow flags everywhere," said Coronado resident Morgan Cassidy. "So if they want to put up a bigger one, I don't see why not."

The project is exempt from environmental review and not subject to a mayoral veto.

Check back for more details on Tuesday afternoon's city council meeting.

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