leo wilson loses it

20 Jun
2014

Do you want Hillcrest to be a more vibrant urban neighborhood, with much-needed new housing? Then you’re a bigot that needs to move to downtown. Uptown Planning Chair Leo Wilson has sounded off over a city Historic Resources staff review of Hillcrest:

From: Leo Wilson
Date: Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 8:35 PM
Subject: Re: Uptown Community Plan Update: Hillcrest – Historic Resources Field Work
To: “Pangilinan, Marlon”

Hi Marlon::

I want to be very blunt in this E-mail.

There is a lot of hate directed at Hillcrest from certain blogs from people who claim to be “urban activists.” In most cases the individuals responsible for these blogs have no connection to Hillcrest, and are pushing agendas not related to the betterment of the Hillcrest community.

Hillcrest is where the genesis of the GLBT community took place; early on Hillcrest was often refrerred to as a “bohemian community”, where people outside of the mainstream were allowed a refuge. It is where the GLBT community initially congregated, and became mainstream. I strongly object to the failure to recognize these important historic events involving the GLBT community, and to push for the extinction of historic Hillcrest under the auspices of becoming part of “greater Downtown.” I object to certain straight white bigots attacking the members of the GLBT community accusing the Hillcrest community of being antiquated because we are asking that the character of Hillcrest, and other communities in Uptown, be preserved. If these people want to live in a high density environments, they need to move Downtown.

Any development in Hillcrest, and for that matter in the other five communities of Uptown, needs to take into account that fact that these are the historic communities of San Diego. and need to be developed in a manner that respect he historic fabric of these Uptown communities.

Leo Wilson
Chair
Uptown Planners.

I wasn’t aware of the review until I got Marlon’s email, but who exactly are the “straight white bigots” with “no connection to Hillcrest” Mr. Wilson is referring to? My husband and I have been together for over 14 years and spend a good deal of time and money in Hillcrest. While there is some historic architecture in the survey area that should be preserved (we’re members of Save Our Heritage Organisation), is Mr. Wilson saying we shouldn’t add new housing and businesses to Hillcrest because it was once a pioneering gay community? What an odd justification to freeze an urban neighborhood in time – especially given the fact San Diego requires another 330,000 housing units by 2050.

The head of the Uptown Planners bringing up discrimination, when he’s long fought against safe infrastructure for bicyclists in the Uptown neighborhoods, is laughable. Mr. Wilson opposes any increase in affordable, middle-class housing in Hillcrest that would enable younger gays (and straights) to live there. Now that’s real economic discrimination, not the imaginary kind that’s been conjured up on behalf of Hillcrest NIMBYs.

Ben Gill says:

While indeed American history is filled with urban planning disasters couched in “revitalization” that bulldozed minority neighborhoods, this is clearly not one of those times. As a gay person I’m sickened that a “community leader” would tie the struggle for gay rights to poorly-designed streets, and that somehow updating and improving an automobile-centric neighborhood to be ever-so-slightly less automobile-centric is an attack on the neighborhood’s inherent (and apparently inherently gay) character. It’s obviously misguided from an urban planning point of view, but moreover, it dilutes actual, worthy arguments for gay cultural heritage.

When will Wilson learn the simple fact that more people would patronize his businesses if the streets were friendlier, and that more density=more customers? I just don’t get it.

Keep up the good work fighting this nonsense.

paul jamason says:

Thanks James and Walter, well said. I agree that if there are specific buildings that represent landmarks of Hillcrest’s LGBT history, let’s preserve them too – the Stonewall bar in NYC comes to mind. But we shouldn’t use this as an excuse to spread a NIMBY blanket over the entire neighborhood. Especially when part of the NIMBY agenda is to restrict new housing in order to increase the value of their own housing even more. That’s completely contrary to the inclusive spirit that Hillcrest once exhibited.

James Davis says:

I learned a few things today after reading that article letter from the Leo Wilson of the Uptown Planners org:

– Gross inaccuracy and assumptions about bloggers from ‘urban activists’ assumed to white and straight are very alive and well
– NIMBYism hiding behind the claims of integrity of historical preservation from a GLBT point of view in Hillcrest are a great reason for this org to exist
– Credibility and ‘voice’ of said ‘organization’ is becoming questionable
– Leo Wilson cares what other people think especially in the blogosphere

Apart from thinking bloggers are white, straight, bigoted, urbanists that like density in an actual urban neighborhood, I think the point comes across quite well. NIMBYism knows no bounds.

Walter says:

Leo Wilson confuses cultural history with architectural and development history. I doubt that the architecture style of Hillcrest had a significant impact of the development of the LGBT community. In fact, the modern LGBT rights movement was born in Manhattan, and it was in dense, culturally diverse urban areas that the movement flourished across the country.

Perhaps if Mr Wilson and community can identify a building that housed a significant episode in the LGBT movement in San Diego, a plague could be erected and the building considered for historic preservation. But to say an entire neighborhood should be preserved is woefully misguided.

paul jamason says:

Thanks for the link Paul, that was an interesting article with several items worth thinking about. Lots of good points in the very large number of comments too.

Paul says:

Bigotry is often used as a tool in urban planning battles. I’m not saying bigotry isn’t involved or that anyone is right or wrong in these cases, but see Williams Ave. bike lanes in Portland as a blindsiding example:
http://bikeportland.org/2011/07/21/racism-rears-its-head-on-williams-project-56633

Eric says:

Ugh, why is it always crazy people that are in positions of authority?

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