A slate of 8 candidates running under the name "Uptown For All" swept the election.
The Uptown Planners held their annual election cycle during a period between June 30 and July 6, resulting in 8 board members elected or re-elected to the panel, all running on a slate called "Uptown For All."
Members elected during the 2021 cycle are Helen Rowe Allen, Mary Brown, Christopher Cole, Roy Dahl, Stuart McGraw, Mary McKenzie, Lu Rehling, and Mat Wahlstrom. Six of the candidates were newly elected to the board, and Dahl won re-election to his seat. Wahlstrom had previously served on the board and will now re-join the panel.
Uptown Planners is the city-recognized community advisory board for the neighborhoods of Bankers Hill/Park West, Middletown, Mission Hills, Hillcrest, and University Heights (west of Park Boulevard).
While the decisions made by Uptown Planners are made in advisory capacity to the City of San Diego, community planning groups are considered highly influential and have the ear of elected and government officials who make final decisions on the matters that come before them. Uptown Planners focuses on topics related to land-use, development, and discretionary projects in the six neighborhoods of Uptown.
The group also serves to provide a forum for public discussion of planning issues in Uptown.
An opposing slate calling itself Rise Up Town also ran a group of 8 candidates, none of whom were successful in their election or re-election. Rise Up Town's candidates included John Bertsch, Marc Bielas, Gloria Brattich, Nevo Magnezi, Soheil Nakshab, Amanda Nelson, Angela Sillmon, and Oscar Tavera. Nakshab was a sitting board member, first elected in 2016 with his term expiring last year.
Uptown Planners did not hold an election in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability to collect votes virtually.
In its promotions, Rise Up Town slate members campaigned on a platform of greater housing density, affordability, more mobility lanes, taller buildings, and taking a proactive (not reactive) approach to development. In contrast, Uptown For All said its priortities were quality neighborhoods and thriving businesses. The winning slate also said they were a voice for the Uptown community, and supported responsible development and public facilities needed for livable neighborhoods.
The two competing slates represent a longtime divide in Uptown among groups of residents and others who support greater density and the associated infrastructure that come with it and those who prefer less density.
According to its website, Rise Up Town was created in 2018 by a group of Uptown neighbors who came together out of an expressed frustration that the Uptown Planners had not been supportive enough of housing, growth, and density in the community. Rise Up Town will continue as a coalition that supports candidates who pledge to bring more forward-looking leadership on housing and transit to our community’s planning group.
For now, the newly constitued board will consist of a mix of community members associated with Rise Up Town, as well as the victorious Uptown For All slate, with a slight tilt toward membership affiliated with Uptown For All.
More information about Uptown Planners can be found here.