City Launches 2-Year ‘Plan Hillcrest' Amid Criticism

Plan Hillcrest is an addendum to the 2016 Uptown Community Plan that will increase housing, public parks, mobility and transit and boost businesses while honoring the legacy of the LGBTQ+ community. Members of an advisory board that helped build the 2016 plan feel overlooked.

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The pandemic isn't stopping city leaders from building and planning for our growing community. More than 100 people joined an online meeting to hear about the plans to update Hillcrest, but it doesn’t come without a little controversy.

Businesses in Hillcrest may be quiet right now, but there is a renewed hope for the future. Benjamin Nicholls with the Hillcrest Business Association said he hopes his 1,300 members make it through this difficult time.

“There's a recognition that this is a terrible time but a lot of my business people are optimistic and they're like, 'How can we get through this? How can we solve this problem?'” said Nicholls.

City leaders have launched "Plan Hillcrest,” a blueprint to add housing, public spaces and parks while strengthening the business district.

"If you try to rent an apartment in Hillcrest, it's pretty difficult. It's not that it's too expensive. There are none to rent,” said Nicholls.

Parts of the plan focus on celebrating the legacy of the LGBTQ+ community, building better connectivity and transit. But not everyone supports it.

Tom Mullaney is on the advisory board that he said spent seven years creating the 2016 Uptown Community Plan update that focused on the core of Hillcrest.

“Why does the city want to come back to re-plan? It doesn’t make sense to us," said Mullaney.

The City of San Diego planning department's spokesperson told NBC 7 Plan Hillcrest is an addendum to the 2016 plan, focusing on increasing housing capacity around transit corridors and connecting to downtown, in addition to the core village of Hillcrest.

In a statement, spokesperson Tara Grimes said:

"On Oct. 1, 2019 the City Council approved an application for Plan Hillcrest to use state planning grants aimed at increasing housing production across the state.  That application specified that Plan Hillcrest would increase residential density and employment intensity within the Hillcrest Village of the Uptown Community Plan and that the Updated Plan will focus additional growth along existing high frequency transit corridors connecting the Hillcrest Urban Village to Downtown San Diego. Those grants became available in January 2020 and the Planning Department began preparing the Plan."

Mullaney is preparing to be present during another two years in drafting this new plan, but he's skeptical the city will take community input.

“Maybe I should try to be optimistic, obviously if we got some new parks that would be nice,” said Mullaney.

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