Meeting Minutes April 2024

Minutes for Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Normal Heights Community Center/Zoom

4649 Hawley Avenue


X = in attendance

XPaul Coogan (C)XJim BarossScott Kessler (AABA)
XAllan Harjala (VC)XDan SoderbergXEmilie Kaman
XOpen (S)XGreg StoneXSami Burrows
XFrances Prichett (T)XNancy Lawler  

Paul called the meeting to order and read the opening reflection.

Board members introduced themselves and shared their favorite flavors of ice cream.

Agenda modification

Sara Al-Algha from District 9 presented first due to scheduling conflict.

Sara outlined the city budget process. The mayor’s first draft budget will be released on April 12. There will be budget forums – both online and in-person – for citizens in early May. Their will be updates on the D9 website. Jim asked that they make sure to have an in-person meeting so constituents who cannot attend online can participate. The city transportation department will be repairing broken streetlights in Normal Heights in June and July. Sara encouraged everyone to take the safe streets survey on the D9 website.

Approval of previous meeting minutes. 

Emilie asked that her name be spelled correctly.

Frances moved. Greg seconded.

All in favor except abstentions by Sami and Jim.

Treasurer’s Report

Frances reported no change. Balance of $332.46.

Non-Agenda Public Comment

  • Jim mentioned that at the AABA meeting the issue of parking meters on Adams came up. The city is surveying interest. It would be a 2 year process.
  • Art Harrison asked to start receiving emails with the NHCPG agenda prior to the meetings.

Digital Communication Monitoring

The board received requests by email through the website for board applications. They were forwarded to the requestors and forwarded to the nominating committee.

Normal Heights for Smart Growth Poll

Paul presented highlights from the community poll conducted by NHFSG. 

Art Harrison asked about who the respondents were– how many and the geographic description. Paul indicated that there were 142 responses. Art asked how many people live in Normal Heights. Paul was not sure, but thought around 1200. Allan thought about 17,000. Both were corrected later by Alex Frost – about 14,000.

Board election

The election committee of Jim Baross and Greg Stone conducted the annual board election by secret ballot. Art Harrison nominated himself from the floor. Paul, Allan, Emilie, Sami, and Dan were up for re-election and Jacob Koopman was placed on the ballot by the nominating committee after applying prior to the election. Both Art and Jacob introduced themselves to attendees. Art Harrison was added to the ballot in the space provided for a write-in candidate. 

The following were elected to two-year terms:

  • Emilie Colwell
  • Paul Coogan
  • Sami Burrows
  • Allan Harjala
  • Dan Soderberg
  • Jacob Koopman

The board elected the following officers:

  • Chair – Paul Coogan
  • Vice Chair – Allan Harjala
  • Secretary – Sami Burrows
  • Treasurer – Frances Pritchett

Mid-City Community Plan Update

Alex Frost, project manager for the community plan update presented on the community plan update process, recent activities, and upcoming activities. We are currently on the 1st of 5 steps – the gathering of ideas. Following this, there will be soliciting feedback, a 1st draft, a 2nd draft & EIR, and finally adoption  after going through the planning commission, city council land use committee, and finally the city council. There have been recent pop-up events at the Kensington Library and Adams Rec Center. Community office hours were held in February and March at the Adams Rec Center, programs were held at area middle and high schools, presentations at community planning group meetings, and business associations. The update working group received 64 applications, of which 12 were chosen and all have confirmed that they will participate. Emilie is the NHCPG designee for participating in the workgroup. There was a survey that had 537 recipients. There will be posters and workshops coming up. By mid-May there will be community snapshots. By this fall, the mobility assessment, by winter, historic content.

Questions – 

  • Jim asked if Alex was PM for earlier cp updates and what issues come up. Alex – just completed Mira Mesa. Issues of homelessness and deferred infrastructure always come up
  • Emilie asked 

if the EIR is still using BlueprintSD. Alex- Yes, 

about funding – Alex – SANDAG grant but possibly less than needed due to state budget issues, and CEQA consultant – Alex – none yet – will only look for one in maybe 1.5 years.

  • Art Harrison asked if they were considering electric car infrastructure – Alex – Yes.

Environmental Justice Element of the General Plan

Paul shared information regarding the importance of environmental justice as was shared at the last community planners committee meeting. Needs to be inclusive of underserved communities – address pollution, green space, food deserts, climate resilience. NH sits in the middle – neither a poor neighborhood nor a wealthy one. We will need to advocate to get our needs addressed.

Goals for upcoming year

Paul opened the floor for ideas about what the NHCPG should focus on in the upcoming year.

Art – emphasized the need for stormwater runoff

Julie – called for greater diversity and community engagement

John – called for common sense and more trees for shade and carbon capture. Palm trees are worthless.

Jim read a comment for the online chat – the city needs to be held accountable and to follow the rules

Jim – complete Ward Canyon Park

Frances – Trees needed. 3 recently taken down on her street with no plan to replace

Jacob – wanted to see more public outreach and neighbors involved

Joe Perry – has lived here 20 years. 10 years ago it was nice. Now it is bad with the homeless and mentally ill. Cannot walk down Adams without pepper spray.

Paul asked if the board should form a committee for goal setting. 

Jim so moved. Emilie seconded. Unanimous approval.

Greg volunteered as chair. Jacob, Paul, and Sami volunteered from the board. Kate Kouhas and Ramy volunteered as well. 

Elected Representatives

Toni Duran from Toni Atkins office 

Tax season – emphasized Cal EITC eligibility for those earning less than 39,000, and the availability of assistance for low-earners from VIDA through April 15. Applications for grants for 1st time home buyers are being accepted through April 29. Bills of interest regarding cancer screening and preventing gaps in health insurance coverage.

Frances asked about tax deadline extension due to floods. Toni clarified that the VIDA assistance is only available through April 15.

Cristopher Gris from Chris Ward’s office 

highlighted recorded webinars on Ward’s Assembly site regarding affordable housing and senior resources. Bills of interest regarding rebuilding Hillcrest DMV with affordable housing and the electricity ratepayer fixed charge repeal. 

Paul asked if the Hillcrest DMV proposal was part of Complete Communities. Chris will look into.

Remy mentioned that she had submitted a legislation request through the website and never heard back. She is concerned that news source election research published online is behind paywalls – election research should be available to the public without having to subscribe

Chair report

Paul – The CPC meeting featured the environmental justice presentation. The CPC’s grand jury request regarding DSD is on its 3rd draft.

NH Community Association

Greg – The association has a mixer every other month on/near Adams & 30th. There will be an Earth Day clean-up at Ward Canyon Park on April 20 from 9:00 – noon.

Adams Recreation Center 

Nancy – The butterfly mural was dedicated. They released butterflies at the dedication. Th group needs members.

John asked if donations were still needed. Nancy suggested asking Scott Kessler. 

Frances commented on the mural’s beauty and craftsmanship.

Jacob asked about total cost. Around $50,000.

Mid City Community Plan Update Joint Committee 

Emilie is our group’s designee in the city working group. The unofficial joint committee may be meeting again in April. 

Historic Review

Dan – There was one property up for 45 year review. Nothing historic – non-descript


Emilie – The first of 4 block groups north of Adams is getting ready to go. The NE corner of the neighborhood. Now is the time to start forming a MAD. Property owners will be surveyed. MAD is needed if the property owners want acorn lights in addition to cobras that must be at intersections. If MAD approved, owners will have extra charge on property tax bills to pay for acorn lights. Confirmed that there will be new streetlight conduits mid-block. Someone asked if the old utility poles will be removed from alleys. Emilie will check.

Community garden 

Paul – Cherokee at East Mountain View is out. One of the property owners did not want to do it. Looking at a few other possible locations, including the part of Ward Canyon Park identified as a community garden in the GDP. 

Traffic issues 

Allan confirmed that the Adams & West Mountain View and 36th Street crosswalks were included in the budget priority memo. Paul asked about the ADA curb ramps requested for East Mountain View just south of Adams and Mansfield & Arthur. Allan will check on.


Jim moved to adjourn. Unanimous.