Meeting Minutes November 2023

Minutes for Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Normal Heights Community Center

4649 Hawley Avenue

Via Zoom at

Via telephone: 1 689-278-1000 Meeting ID: 626 390 4190


X = in attendance

XPaul Coogan ©XSami BurrowsScott Kessler (AABA)
XAllan Harjala (VC)XTaylor EverichXEmilie Kaman
 Brian Schrader (S)XGreg StoneXJim Baross
Frances Prichett (T)XNancy LawlerXDan Soderberg

9 attendees in audience

  1. Art Harrison
  2. Mark Lawler
  3. John Zomisky
  4. Jo Ortiz
  5. Ben Mendosa
  6. Sara Al Agha
  7. Sami Burrows – Seated on board during meeting
  8. Molly Lorden
  9. Heather Ferbert

9 attendees on zoom

  1. Robert
  2. Natalie Koski-Karell, City of San Diego,
  3. Neiva Reyes (SDSU Student)
  4. Alex Frost, City of San Diego
  5. Jacqueline Molina Beltran (SDSU Student)
  6. Xochitl Tapia (SDSU Student)
  7. Betbirai Arista (SDSU Student)
  8. Eszter Kalman, self-employed,
  9. Ramie Zomisky

6:00     Call to order – AUDIO, CHAT, AND VIDEO WILL BE RECORDED

  1. Opening “reflection”
  2. Introductions of Board members. All attendees are encouraged to enter their name for a record of their attendance in “Chat” or, if participating by audio only, to introduce themselves verbally. A reminder that other Chat entries will not be monitored by the Chair and are not considered official communications, even if to or from Board members.
  3. Agenda Setting/modifications (Note: items may be addressed out of listed order and time)

Jim asked to add discussion of a board candidate application during the nominating committee agenda item. All agreed.

  1. Approval of meeting minutes for October as sent via email – 

Jim moved to approve October minutes pending addition of attendance. Allan seconded. Unanimously approved.

  1. Treasurer’s Report – Treasurer/ Frances Prichett

Frances was not able to attend. Paul reported no change.

6:15   Non-Agenda Public Comment

  • Non-Agenda Public Comment regarding NH land use & related NH community issues (2min pp).

Heather Ferbert introduced herself as a Normal Heights resident who is running for City Attorney.

Jim discussed updating the Normal Heights community organization flyer with plans to provide the updated version in both print and online, and reached our for volunteers to help.

Paul announced that he was asked by Fernando Garcia to share with the group that Fernando is running for District 9 city council seat and was going to hold a meet and greet. Contact Cynthia Garcia.

  • Digital Communications Monitoring from, Nextdoor, Facebook, Email, etc. 

6:30 Action/Decision Items (Board member roll call may be performed for recording votes)

  • Presentation on Mid-Cities Community Plan Update Process – Alex Frost (City of San Diego)

Alex Frost and Natalie Koski-Karell from the city planning department presented via Zoom. They provided an overview of the upcoming update to the Mid-City Community Plan, including what a community plan is, why it is being updated, the update goals, process, and anticipated timeline. They provided a snapshot of the 4 planning areas (Normal Heights. Kensington/Talmadge, City Heights, and Eastern Area) included in the Mid-City planning area .

Questions and discussion following presentation –

Jim – Could Mid-City be broken up into separate plans? Alex – Anything can be considered, but likely no due to time and budget limitations.

Emily – Has funding been granted? Alex – 1st grant in 2022 and 2nd anticipated in 2024.

Emily – Have consultants been selected? Alex – Yes. Ascent Environmental, ChenRyan, Paige & Turnbull (historical)

Emily – What is anticipated CEQA analysis? Alex – An addendum to the Blueprint program EIR.

Emily – Is Purple Line alignment study part of the update? Alex – The Purple Line is a 20 year process and the alignment study is a 2 year SANDAG process.

Greg – Asked about the existing conditions report. Alex – it is coming

Paul – Where can we find the point system for the Parks Master Plan  online? Alex – In Parks Master Plan Appendix

Paul – How does new DIF structure align with categories? Alex – It will be integrated in plan update.

Taylor – Pointed out that info in the neighborhood snapshots provided earlier needs to be updated – The actualy median income in Kensington is about twice what was said.

Dan – Questioned by the historical consultant was from San Francisco. Alex – They work statewide and have done projects in San Diego previously.

Molly – Asked whether they planned to provide outreach in languages other than just English and Spanish, and outreach to other underserved groups. Alex & Natalie – Yes. There will also be translation services available. The details will need to be worked out.

Art Harrison – Asked who they consider “stakeholders” to be. Alex – Listed off a laundry list of potential interested parties and indicated that all meetings would be open to the public and transparent.

Gary Weber – Discussed long-term infrastructure shortfalls and asked how we can pay for it? There has never been enough money to make an impact. DIFs banked are no enough. Something like a general obligation bond would be necessary. 

Alex- Discussed how the area was significantly down-zoned following previous community plans due to concerns about insufficient schools and parks & the $614 million invested in schools since and how there are always trade-offs.

  • Review “Operating Procedures” formerly known as “Terms and Conditions” for re-certification by the city – Paul Coogan

Paul described proposed amendments to the planning group recognition documents. 

Change 1 – Jim moved. Greg seconded. Approved unanimously.

Change 2 – Jim moved. Greg Seconded. Approved unanimously.

Change 3 – Jim moved . Allan seconded. Approved unanimously.

7:15     Reports/Updates

  1. City, County, and State government agency representatives, if present.
    • Lydia Marshal – City Parks & Rec – presentation on Ward Canyon GDP development

Jim reported that the city announced at the October recreation group meeting that CalTrans would not be ceding the 40th Street property that the GPD identifies as the location of the permanent dog park. There will be a report at the recreation group meeting on Nov. 28 at the Adams Avenue Rec Center.

  1. District 9 Councilmember Elo-Rivera – Ben Mendoza

Ben announced it would be his last meeting and introduced Sara – our new District 9 neighborhood rep. The city is moving forward with demolishing the MOC building, with an RFP going out by end of 2023 and anticipated completion by Fall, 2024. The vandalism-magnet vacant property at ECB & Swift was contacted by the city and has cleaned up the litter and graffiti. There is a permit application pending to build a 5 story 27 unit building with affordable units on the site.

Meeting guest asked what “affordable” means. Emily explained the technical definition based on area median income.

  1. Budgeting
  2. Mayor’s Office – Lucero Maganda
  3. Budgeting
  4. County Supervisor– (removed until further notice) State Senator Atkins –Andi McNew 
  5. Assembly Member Ward – Christopher Gris 
  6. Chair report
    • Community Planners Committee
      • A letter was approved to be sent to the city regarding planning dept overreach on an issue from many months ago. Ad hoc subcommittee formed to review and submit opinions on Grand Jury Report on DIF and collect evidence for a new Grand Jury investigation into the practices of the planning department, DSD, and code enforcement.
    • Board Training Update

Everyone has complied, as long as Scott has done it.

  1. Community Group updates when present
    • Adams Avenue Business Association – Scott Kessler
    • El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association – Gary Weber
    • NH Community Association and NH Urban Arts – Greg Stone/Norma Stafford

Greg – Dec. 9 bike ride. Holiday decorating contest coming up enter 11/20-12/4, vote online 12/9-12/16. Community potluck on 12/12 in the community center. They need volunteers for holiday events. 

  1. Adams “Community Recreation Advisory Group” – Nancy Lawler

Nancy – They need more members. The ball field got its new net to keep foul balls from flying into the street. There continue to be homelessness issues. The butterfly mosaic should be going up in January. There is a new Rec Center Director and the group has a new chair (Jim).

  1. NH for Smart Growth – Paul Coogan

Paul – They met with Fernando Garcia. They decided to create position papers to provide to political candidates.

7:30 Standing Committees

  1. Joint Mid-City Communities Plan Update Committee – Greg Stone, Scott Kessler, Emily, Brian

Greg – They are looking for ideas for vision statements. Email ideas to Greg. Their next meeting is tomorrow.

  1. Historical Property Review Report – Dan 

Dan – Nothing this month.

  1. Parks & Trail Development – TBD 

7:45 Advisory Committees

  1. Nominating Committee – Greg Stone, Taylor Everich, Jim Baross

Jim introduced candidate Samantha Burrows (Sami). Sami introduced herself and discussed her interest in joining the group. Greg moved to appoint. Allan seconded. Approved unanimously. To be determined the length of appointment. 

  1. Utility Undergrounding & Street Lighting MAD – Emilie Colwell & Francis Prichett

Emily – Identified the far northeast corner of the neighborhood slated for undergrounding. Early stages.

  1. Caltrans Grant Submission – Paul Coogan, Jim Baross, Greg Stone, Taylor Everich

Paul – Grant denied but community garden project moving forward with matching funds from the Selby realty group, who indicated they would still provide the funds. Looking into raising the rest of the needed funds.

  1. DEI Program – Paul Coogan, Scott Kessler, Jim Baross

Paul – We are submitting paperwork for recognition renewal

  1. Tree Replacements – Greg Stone, Emilie Colwell, Gerald Schoelen

Discussion of whether the city will provide free trees for private yards or only for the city parkway. Taylor indicated city is parkway only but SDG&E has a free tree program that includes private property.

Discussion of how undergrounding could prevent tree planting in parkways identified for utility boxes.

  1. Traffic Issue Taskforce (Report on Vision Zero) – Allan Harjala 

Allan – Discussed city auditor report following up on city’s Vision Zero progress. Summary – traffic fatalities continue to increase, city is making progress but there is not enough money, more work is being done in wealthier areas despite greater need in less-wealthy areas, and the city not having a dedicated Vision Zero coordinator. Shared the report earlier with the group.

Allan – reported city response to our October 2022 letter asking for traffic safety evaluations for locations in Normal Heights. Summary – not much recommended other than what is already on TUNL. Hawley north of Adams could get angled parking if the residents ask for it.

Some discussion of the 85 percentile speed of 30 mph on Hawley is way too high.

Allan will forward the email to the group.

  1. Community Engagement Poll – Paul Coogan

8:00    Adjournment

Taylor announced that he was resigning from the board.

Sami moved to adjourn. Taylor seconded. Approved unanimously.