The Future of Hillcrest


This page serves as a resource to community members, business owners and residents to learn about the ways that the HBA is helping to create a progressive future for the business community of Hillcrest.

Issue: The Redevelopment of the Normal Street DMV

Many folks will agree that the State of California DMV facility on Normal Street is in sore need of repair.  Over the last decade there have been a variety of proposals that describe how the state will renovate its old facility.  One popular, but now defunct plan, was to create a large mixed use building on the site with parking below and a new DMV facility on the ground floor.

In recent months, the State has proposed a renovation of the facility and has abandoned the idea of mixed use facility. Their plans can be found at The plans have proved to be pretty unpopular with the neighborhood and a variety of community leaders and organizations have weighed in. Council member Chris Ward weighed in.  The HBA objected to the proposed six foot fence around the site that would negatively impact the Hillcrest Farmers Market at the Re-imagine Normal Street Project (see below) and well as the HBA.  Assembly Member, Todd Gloria requested the DMV re-examine their plans.

Issue: The Normal Street Greenway/ Re-imagine Normal

Over the years, the Pride Flag at Normal Street and University Ave. has become a gathering space for the community. In 2012, with the help of community activists, the HBA constructed a 65′ flag, a small gathering space, and an historical memorial that tells the history of the LGBT community in San Diego.  For many years, neighbors have planned to expand this space. Normal Street has the capacity to host a large neighborhood open space including an expanded gathering space to celebrate the LGBT community.

2016 Re-imagine Normal Street:

The HBA currently has plans to make parts of Normal Street a pedestrian park.  The New Normal presentation, June 2016,
(Video), show the plan for the park.  However, there are many moving parts for this project, including the cooperation of SANDAG, whose bikeway project is planned for this area.  The Uptown Community Parking District will also have to provide funds for parts of the project.

Media Coverage:

2012 Pride Flag and Historical Monument (completed):

The HBA worked for several years to design and display a 65-foot flagpole and Pride monument to permanently display a rainbow flag at the intersection of Normal St. and University Ave. The rainbow flag is 20 feet by 30 feet. Read more about the Hillcrest Pride Flag.  This monument has become a gathering space for the community in times of celebration and sadness.

Issue: Visions of Hillcrest

A variety of volunteer planners, land owners and architects have developed visions and plans for Hillcrest.  These plans area creative and offer exciting visions of Hillcrest.  Planner, Alan Hoffman, offers a unique vision for the future of Uptown, North Park, Downtown and Mission Valley. Alan’s plan for the future of transporartion in San Diego can be found here: Hoffman Plan

The Hillcrest Gateway Council is a coalition of property owners who have created a vision for the future of the core of Hillcrest.  During the recent neighborhood planning process, they negotiated with the City Planning Department that over the new few years they’ll be developing a specific plan for the core of Hillcrest that will include new zoning. Their vision for the heart of Hillcrest can be found here.

Issue: Hillcrest East Maintenance Assessment District

Update!  Due to ongoing litigation relating to the La Jolla MAD, the City of San Diego has put the formation of new MADs and PBIDs on hold.  The Hillcrest MAD has been put on hold until this litigation has been addressed.  Other news stories can be found here and here.

The east end of Hillcrest has been growing for years and the level of maintenance expected by businesses has not kept up with reality.  The primary way that neighborhoods provide services beyond what the city provides is to form Maintenance Assessment Districts (MADs).  MADs are an assessment on property owners that is, through contract, provided to a third party that provides the services the owners want.  On the east end of Hillcrest, there is an existing MAD that maintains the planted medians between Tenth and Normal Streets.

Over the two years, the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) has taken steps to begin the process of expanding this MAD to provide additional services including cleaning and security. This included:

  • Formed an organizing group and began meeting regularly.
  • Conducting a preliminary survey.  The survey has had a 30.06% response rate (324 responsive parcels). This is a particularly high response rate considering that a typical response rate for a direct mail campaign is often less than 2%. Of property owners who were petitioned 27.09% (292 parcels) answered yes to the question as to whether they would like to move forward with the process of expanding the MAD.
  • The HBA also presented the findings of the survey and the proposed expansion to the Uptown Community Planners Committee in March of 2016.

The HBA has hired a consultant to develop an assessment engineering model that would determine who pays what for the new services.  The HBA has created a management plan that describes how the district would be managed.  The assessment engineers model and management plan are currently being reviewed by the City of San Diego.  It is anticipated that a petition and ballot will be sent out in early 2018 to property owners to determine if they wish to move forward with the assessment.

Issue: Bike Lanes and Hillcrest

Bike lanes have been proposed throughout the neighborhood of Hillcrest by a variety of government agencies.  The status of these efforts is outlined below.

SANDAG Uptown Regional Bikeway:  

SANDAG (the San Diego Association of Governments) is San Diego County’s regional transportation planning authority.  They are empowered by the state of California to plan regional transportation efforts.  Their bike lane efforts focus on constructing “protected bike lanes” throughout Hillcrest.  Their plans and information are here. Protected bike lanes take up a lot of space and often require the removal of parking spaces due to the requirement that adequate sight lines be maintained relative to the bike lanes.  When SANDAG first proposed their bike lanes, their proposal included almost 191 lost parking spaces throughout Hillcrest.

Transforming Hillcrest: In August 2014, Hillcrest Community groups met to discuss ideas for transforming Hillcrest. The Hillcrest Business Association, Hillcrest Town Council and the Uptown Community Parking District came together to support alternatives to San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Uptown Bike Corridor Project. Local activist, Jim Frost proposed an alternative to removing hundreds of parking spaces on University Ave.  Though supported unanmously by the community and bicycle activists, the City of San Diego rejected the proposals because they would slow down traffic.  The proposals below are below: Transforming Hillcrest proposal East end of University Ave., Transforming Hillcrest proposal West end of University Ave.  Currently, SANDAG has yet to release their plans for bike lanes along University Ave. on the east side of SR163, but early illustrations show the removal of landscaping and decorated medians that had been installed by the neighborhood years ago.

University Ave. between First and Tenth:  In 2015, the HBA, local property owners, and our partners at the California Restaurant Association hired a lobbying firm to negotiate a compromise to make sure that certain parts of the bike lane be curtailed along University Ave.  in order to reduce parking losses.  With help from then City Council Member Todd Gloria, the section of SANDAG’s project between First Ave. and Tenth Ave. on University was removed from the project.

Fourth and Fifth Ave. between Bankers Hill and Hillcrest: The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is proposing a bike lane from Downtown to Hillcrest and while the HBA generally supports bike lanes, there are a number of challenges with this one. First, by their own admission, SANDAG, stated that the bike lanes from downtown to Hillcrest will dead end at Washington Street (a very busy intersection).  Second, SADNAG is proposing taking out the city bike lane which was installed for free and is not well used, and replace it with a highly expensive bike lane ($40 million).  Third, and most important, the bike lane will remove almost forty parking spaces from the heart of the neighborhood.

The HBA has been working diligently over the last few months with partners at the California Restaurant Association, to request that the deployment of SANDAG’s proposed bike lanes on Fourth and Fifth in Hillcrest be delayed.  Recently, the HBA held a protest to oppose the bike lanes and appeal to Council member Chris Ward and Mayor Faulconer to negotiate on this issue.  The protest asked a simple question, why can’t this portion of the bike lane be delayed until parking mitigation for the parking losses be found? Currently the HBA and the Uptown Community Parking District have voted to oppose any expenditure of funds that result in the removal of parking spaces from Hillcrest.  

The City of San Diego Bikeway:  

The City of San Diego has a bike master plan that seeks to create a bike network connecting neighborhoods.  Their bikeway consists of painted bike lanes throughout the city.  They are currently deploying their bike network as streets are repaved and repainted.  In Hillcrest their bike lanes are being added as various pipeline replacement projects are completed.

University Ave. between First and Tenth:  At the request of then City Council Member Todd Gloria, the section of SANDAG’s bikeway project between First Ave. and Tenth Ave. on University was removed from their project. In 2016, the HBA and the City of San Diego negotiated an agreement that resulted in a net gain of twenty spaces, mainly on Essex St. and Tenth Ave., related to the City installing their painted bike lanes along University Ave. and completing the “gap” created by Council Member Gloria.

Issue: Recommendations to the Community Uptown Plan (COMPLETED)

In 2010 the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) created “Hillcrest 2.0”, a series of business forums in the neighborhood of Hillcrest. These forums were attended by business owners and residents in the community and each had a designated topic relevant to the upcoming Uptown Community Plan.  Significant outreach was undertaken to ensure participation and representation from a variety of backgrounds. Information and feedback from the 2.0 series was compiled in 2011, and with our Board of Director’s input, summarized into a plan for Hillcrest’s future.  Visit the plan and read more about Hillcrest 2.0.

Download Hillcrest 2.0 — Recommendations to the Community Uptown Plan


Neighborhood resources: