Breaking: San Diego Planning Commission recommends denial of Hillcrest Pride Flag ProjectBreaking News, Top Highlights Thursday, April 26th, 2012
By Will Rodriguez-Kennedy
The San Diego Planning Commission voted 4 to 2 this Thursday to send a recommendation of disapproval of the Hillcrest Pride Flag Project to the San Diego City Council. The Project, headed by the Hillcrest Business Association and supported by San Diego LGBT Pride, calls for a 65’ flag pole to be erected on the median near the intersection of University Avenue and Normal Street. The flag pole would feature an 18’x12’ rainbow flag.
Nearly 30 community activists attended Thursday’s session, all wearing pink in support of the project. Of the citizens who submitted speaker slips on the item before the commission, none were in opposition.
The meeting was a continuation of the Planning Commission’s April 12th meeting to consider the project, where the commission failed to reach the 4 vote majority required to send the proposal to the City Council for a recommendation. Commission Chairman Eric Naslund closed public comment for the proposal at that time, stating that the majority of the session would be for Commissioner Stephen Haase, who was not present at the April 12th meeting to ask questions and weigh in on the matter.
John Stump, Chairman of the San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club, introduced a point of matter asking the chairman to read the names of the people who submitted speaker slips in support of the Hillcrest Pride Flag Project. Naslund agreed, and read 30 names into the public record. Commissioner Michael Smiley opposed this action, saying “I think it is unfair because there may have been people who wanted to voice disapproval but because there was not going to be public testimony did not show up.”
After a lengthy question and answer period by Haase, Commissioner Robert Griswold introduced a motion to send a recommendation against approval of the project, seconded by Commissioner Michael Smiley. The motion passed with Commissioners Griswold, Golba, Peerson and Smiley in support and Commissioners Naslund and Haase in opposition.
While Thursday’s vote may seem like a loss for supporters of the project, various activists such as Stephen Whitburn, member of the San Diego LGBT Pride Board of Directors, expressed optimism. Whitburn told LGBT Weekly, “It got us to where we need to go, we have more friends on the City Council.”
The San Diego City Council will consider the matter on May 15th, 2012. Ben Nicholls, Executive Director of the Hillcrest Business Association, urged supporters to turn out for that decision. Ultimately, supporters are optimistic that the Council will approve the project.
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