Meeting Minutes February 2024

Normal Heights Community Center/Zoom

4649 Hawley Avenue


X = in attendance

XPaul Coogan (C)XJim BarossXScott Kessler (AABA)
XAllan Harjala (VC)XDan SoderbergXEmily Colwell
 Open (S)XGreg StoneXSami Burrows
XFrances Prichett (T)XNancy Lawler  

6:00     Call to order 

  • Opening “reflection” and introductions. 
  • Network was slow and portions of the Zoom recording are missing. Remote participants had audio but not video at times.

Agenda Modifications

  • Alex from RideSD would present on the airport transit connection proposal in March.
  • Some items will be adjusted to accommodate the Council President’s schedule.

Non-Agenda Public Comment

  • Becky Rapp (online) spoke to share a KPBS article regarding protestors at State of the City regarding marijuana permits and the Race & Equity Division Seed Program
  • Fernando Garcia introduced himself as candidate for District 9 city council seat. Solar business owner. Kensington resident. Regarding recent flooding – Faulted current city government for lack of preparation and not listening to communities. Called out city for prioritizing bike lanes over storm drains.
  • Terry Hoskins introduced himself as candidate for District 9 city council seat. Former police officer in Mid-City Division. Eastern area resident. Does not want any new taxes when the city has been paying for the Ash Street building and bike lanes. 
  • Paul Jameson (online) defended bike lanes and pointed out that community members like him have advocated for them and that we should have both bike lanes and functioning storm drains. We need more money to be able ti maintain infrastructure.
  • Marianne Greene (online) introduced herself as the city’s fist environmental planner for the street division. The city has never fully funded wetland mitigation.

Action/Decision Items

Presentation – Ramie Zomisky – “Housing Crisis or Hoarding Crisis?”

Presentation hosted on Google Drive

Resident of Mountain View Drive for many years. Proposes three solutions to fix the housing crisis  –

  1. Crack down on short term rental issues involving unlimited number of Tier 2 licenses being issued for full-time full-home short-term rentals to STR operators who own multiple STR properties using “hosts” who are not really hosts.
  2. Impose an inflation penalty on flippers who are buying up many of the homes that come on the market and artificially drive up the cost of housing.
  3. Ban foreign ownership of housing.

Asked board to send a letter to the city.

Jim moved to craft a letter to the city, in conjunction with Ramie, asking the city if these solutions are possible and what effect implementing any or all of them might have.

Multiple people seconded. I believe it was Greg who got the first one in.

Scott abstained. All others voted aye. No nays.

Council President Sean Elo-Rivera Q&A.

The CP spoke on the disaster that the recent flooding in the chronically underfunded SESD neighborhoods has been and the humanitarian crisis. Mentioned the Ramada Inn recently purchased through Project Home Key becoming available to temporarily house flood victims.

Q&A – Speakers get 30 seconds to ask question. CP gets 2 minutes to respond, which can be extended. Parker will ring bell when speakers hit their time.

Alex Zukas asked about status of $133M EPA loan for storm water repair.

CP – The loan has been secured. Will need to check how it is being used. Spoke on the long-term nature of the infrastructure maintenance underfunding going back many decades.

Danielle Layman asked about the status of Ward Canyon Park and where the money would come from.

CP – A plan is in place for the park. Acknowledged that it is taking too long.

Paul Kreuger asked about the bonus ADU program and whether the council would look into why no low or very low income units have been created.

CP – We have asked for data and it has not bee provided. Frustrated with lack of response. The council president cannot demand a response – can only ask.

Jacob Koopman asked why the CP puts the mayor’s agenda above constituents’.

CP – Denied that this is the case, highlighting his opposition to the camping ban and HAP 2.0 in its original form. 

Lorna Zukas asked why the council raided Prop H money for non-infrastructure expenses.

CP – Acknowledged that during the pandemic the council opted to divert some of the Prop H funding. Expressed that Prop H was never a solution to the city’s revenue shortfalls. 

Ramie Zomisky asked what he thought of her presentation.

CP – Most of it he agreed with. Has concerns about trying to fix the STRO because of what happened with the first STRO when AirBNB referendum it. Lots of negotiations went into the current STRO. If we let AirBNB write the law, it will be much worse.

Art Harrison asked about the city doing a poor job on maintaining infrastructure in some areas – while other areas like Point Loma seem to get all their infrastructure maintained.

CP – The city needs revenue. Clearing channels has regulatory hurdles. Would require wetland mitigation which is expensive.

Jay Powell asked if the CP would support the measure to replace SDG&E with a publicly owned utility.

CP – Wants to wait until the current study is completed and wants to make sure that any transition is done right.

Fernando Garcia asked why the CP’s office always passes the buck and claims it is “not my job”.

CP – Expressed need for good working relationship with the mayor. Lamented the huge roadblock that is the city attorney’s office. Emphasized the changes in process he has instituted on the council – making it more of a deliberative legislative body.

Dana Given asked how much money the CP has given away to developers through DIF waivers.

CP – The housing shortage is the top priority. Getting more housing built must take priority.

Gerald Schoelen asked what the process is for determining where spending will go following the road condition index.

CP – It is a fight for limited funds. Expressed concern for how streets were evaluated. It makes no sense that Hawley Blvd is rated better now than it was in 2016 when it has not been paved since the 1980s.

Paul Jameson asked about what was being done about entire neighborhoods like Talmadge trying to get themselves declared historic districts by the state to exempt themselves from housing requirements.

CP – Expects the state AG is likely to do something to.

Lynn (chat) asked what the height limits are in Normal Heights’ residential areas.

CP – It varies depending on a lot of factors and housing incentives.

Terry Hoskins asked which four of the thousands of storm channels get cleared in a year and who decides.

CP – It is always a fight to get funds allocated in the budget. The council can set priorities, but once the funds are allocated, it is out of their hands.

Greg Stone asked about the status of the Pure Water project.

CP – It is one of the city’s biggest infrastructure projects. It is coming in more expensive because of how the city staggers projects to try to hide the actual cost.

Dan Soderberg asked about the status of SB 10.

CP – The council sent it back to planning department and they have not brought anything forward. 

Paul Coogan asked about how the new library branches in the Library Master Plan would be funded.

CP – No funding has been identified. The ballot measure proposed to set up a funding source for parks and libraries did not get enough signatures, but that is still in litigation. It is a budget priority issue. Expressed the long-term nature of the city’s revenue shortfalls and the dishonesty of prior city officials who told the people that the city’s revenue problems were because city employees were paid too much and their pensions were too generous. We lost lots of employees due to the low pay. Even when we get funds – like streetlights – there are not enough employees to do the work.

CP wrapped up with a call for everyone to unite around a common vision – around common things that we want – not around what we do not want.

Caroline McKeon – Mural funding request

Asked the board to provide the $1000 that it previously approved pre-pandemic for the butterfly mosaic mural.

Jim so moved. Emilie seconded. Passed unanimously.


Mars Project Update

  • Paul – The developer just needs to pay about $250K in fees to get the permits. He had previously planned to start construction in January and nothing has happened yet.

Area elected reps

  • Sara from the D9 office will be out for March and Ben Mendoza will fill in.

Community orgs

NH Community Ass.

  • Greg – 2/21 mixer at AC Lounge at 6pm

NH Urban Arts 

  • Norma – Thanked for the mural donation.
  • Kim Emerson – Expects to begin install in March

Community Garden

  • Paul – The parkway is owned by the property owners behind it, with the city having a right of way. The city will vacate its right of way after it gets permission for the garden from the property owners.

Adams Rec Center 

  • Nancy – Ongoing issues with homeless in front of the rec center and in Ward Canyon. No evidence that using get it done does anything.
  • Kim E. – It looks like it will be about 1 year for the MOC building to come down. Called for people to joining the rec group.

Jim moved to adjourn. Dan seconded. Unanimous.