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Lawsuit claims San Diego leaders deceived Bankers Hill residents on planned AIDS memorial

Lawsuit claims San Diego leaders deceived Bankers Hill residents on planned AIDS memorial.
Photo credit:
Flickr - Stock photo

Jennifer Hasso has filed a lawsuit against San Diego city leaders. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the suit claims Assemblyman Todd Gloria, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other San Diego officials weren't honest with Bankers Hill residents about the extent of a proposed AIDS memorial in a Bankers Hill park. 

The suit filed in federal court says Hasso and other neighbors were told by officials that the memorial would be modest, but those same officials told the LGBT community the monument would be larger, containing an amphitheater and deck.

She also says her opposition to the project prompted backlash by the city including spray painting her house and threatening her with fines. 

The city refutes the allegations in court documents saying the city owns the land where Hasso has already built a chimney, concrete wall, and an irrigation system.

A civil penalty notice issued by the city in October reportedly says they will charge her $500 a day until she removes everything she has built on the city property. 

However, Hasso asserts that the property is hers.

In 2016 an AIDS memorial park was proposed on the land in question located on Olive Street. When Hasso voiced opposition to the project the alleged harassment began. 

The memorial park was in response to the sale of the Truax House to a developer after a failed attempt by leaders to designate it as a historic landmark. The Truax House served as one of the nation's first hospices beginning in 1989. 

The lawsuit says city officials wanted to name the park after the hospice's founder Brad Truax, a renown early advocate of the San Diego LGBT community. 

The idea to add an AIDS memorial featuring the names of those who lost their lives to the disease was proposed with funding coming from the sale of the Truax house according to the suit. 

Further allegations state that there are plans to include a deck where people can scatter the ashes of those who have died from AIDS. 

“While the city has continued to have secret meetings and plans, including for thousands of people to descend on this ‘mini’ park," the suit states, "they have continued to lie to the public and claim that it is intended for ’20 people to have a quiet repose.’”

Some residents voiced opposition to the project. Their concerns stemmed from fears of the park bringing in too many visitors and not enough accommodations. 

Although some say an AIDS memorial would be better served in Hillcrest's Pride Plaza, city officials are still moving forward with the memorial in Bakers Hill according to the report.

Hasso's suit says the harassment began at the beginning of 2018 when the city initially sent her a letter to remove additions she made to the space.

The City Attorney's office had no comment beyond court documents filed by their office.  

Todd Gloria and Mayor Faulconer declined to comment according to the Union-Tribune. 

Gloria's replacement in the Third Council District, Councilman Chris Ward says he hopes it can all be resolved. 

“The proposed AIDS Memorial is vital to creating a safe place of remembrance so those lives lost are not forgotten by future San Diegans,” he said. “Although I am unable to comment on any active litigation, it is my hope that an agreeable resolution will be achieved.”