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Uptown Planners votes to support Harvey Milk Street project

SAN DIEGO – The proposal to rename Blaine Street in Hillcrest after LGBT civil rights hero Harvey Milk received a thumbs-up from the Uptown Planners at a meeting Tuesday night.

The Uptown Planners board, which is a citizens group that provides advisory recommendations to the City of San Diego regarding land use and projects in the neighborhoods within the Uptown Community Plan area, voted 6-4 in favor of changing the street’s name to Harvey Milk Street.

Due to the election of Uptown Planners directors, which also occurred at the meeting, four members of the board of 15 were seen counting ballots during the vote so they did not participate in the Harvey Milk Street item, causing their votes to be recorded as abstentions.

Among those elected to the board was Uptown resident Christopher Ward, who serves as chief of staff to Assemblymember Marty Block. Ward was the top vote-getter amongst the nine candidates who were vying for seven seats.

Leo Wilson, Uptown Planners chair, does not vote on matters that come before the board except in the event of a tie; however, he publicly stated his support for the project.

Prior to the vote to support the project, the original motion brought to the floor was to deny the street name change. This item failed 5-4.

Blaine Avenue runs five blocks from The San Diego LGBT Community Center to Cleveland Avenue, with Normal Street as an intersection. That's the location of the proposed Rainbow Flag Project, which has been approved by the Uptown Planners and sent to the city planning group for consideration.

A coalition of citizens and organizations have banded together, with the support of San Diego LGBT Pride, to form the “Committee to Commemorate Harvey Milk,” which is organizing the effort to rally support for the street name change.

Dwayne Crenshaw, executive director of San Diego LGBT Pride, said that the project will be funded entirely by private funds.

“The initial $2,500 city application fee has been raised and paid to the City of San Diego,” Crenshaw said. “An additional $10,000 to $15,000 still needs to be raised to continue the approval process through the Planning Commission and City Council and to the point Harvey Milk Street signs are installed.”

Organizers hope to see the street name change be implemented by Harvey Milk’s birthday, which is officially May 22. Harvey Milk Day, which is an official day of recognition in the state of California, will be observed on May 25 this year.

The next step in the approval process will be for the project to go before the City of San Diego’s Planning Commission and then the City Council.

“The thumbs up from the Uptown Planners is a significant first step in moving forward with San Diego becoming the first city in America to appropriately honor Harvey Milk with a street named in his honor,” Crenshaw said. “The closeness of the vote highlights the need to continue to educate society at large about LGBT history and contributions, as well as demonstrates that we still have much work to do in the civil rights struggle that Harvey Milk helped lead so many years ago."

Individuals and organizations interested in financially supporting the effort should contact Crenshaw at (619) 297-7683 or Dwayne@sdpride.org. Crenshaw says that contributions are tax deductible.

For more information or to sign the pledge in support of the project, click HERE.