Golden Hill’s 25th Street Nightmare Gives the Lie to Faulconer’s Infrastructure Fantasy

By Jim Miller

A little over a week ago I was amused to see the Turko Files run a couple of segments “exposing” a disastrous Golden Hill renovation project on 25th Street that I had covered nearly six months earlier in late August of 2014. The KUSI angle was, appropriately, how bad the endless construction has been for local small businesses who have suffered through the scatter-shot planning and surreal whack-a-mole approach to getting the job done more“efficiently.”

Neighborhood residents might recall how Mayor Kevin Faulconer claimed his administration would change the game back in April of 2014 when he opined, “It’s a mindset that’s changing, and it says do it all at once. It’s taken awhile and it’s been frustrating for us, it takes more planning. So now, we do all of the projects at once – pipes, streets – so you don’t have to come back six months, two years later.”

What he didn’t consider was whether the residents of Golden Hill would dig it any better if his “efficient” new mindset of “doing it all at once” just meant that the work would keep going with no end in sight for the foreseeable future. Indeed, as bad as it is to live through the interminable disaster that is 25th Street, the political ironies are rich beyond words.   [Read more…]

National Bicycle Tourism Conference Kicked Off in San Diego

By Dave Rice

The four-day-long National Bicycle Tourism Conference kicked off in San Diego on Wednesday, November 5, with conference organizers hoping to highlight the region as an increasingly bike-friendly locale for residents and visitors alike. This is the first in the conference’s 25 years of operation that San Diego was selected to host.

Prior to the start of the conference, the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition staged a five-mile tour encompassing portions of downtown and Coronado, meant to highlight the nearly-complete Bayshore Bikeway, a 24-mile loop around the bay that’s been under development since 1976, as well as various other improvements that resulted in Coronado being named in 2013 to a nationwide list of certified “bike friendly” city.

The tour kicked off in front of the county administration building, where Supervisor Greg Cox greeted a handful of cycling activists, local media, and national cycling press, offering encouragement for completion of the Bikeway and adoption of more cyclist-friendly policies countywide.   [Read more…]

K-Faulc Saves Golden Hill: Adventures in Infrastructure “Improvements”

By Jim Miller

“There is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican pothole.”

Remember that pat line that Kevin Faulconer used ad nauseam during the mayor’s race? Well out here in the real world after the election, neither variety of potholes is getting fixed very quickly, and Faulconer’s fine words about efficiency and commitment to infrastructure are long forgotten once the press conferences are over.

A case in point is my Golden Hill neighborhood, where residents recently posted angry signs before they cleared several cone-blocked streets and dozens of “no parking” signs on their own after four months and counting of inaction in the wake of a Faulconer press conference where he promised big things.   [Read more…]

Carlos and Linda LeGerrette Named Mesa College 2014 Distinguished Alumni

By Lina Heil / San Diego Mesa College News

For more than 50 years, San Diego Mesa College graduates (Class of 1969) Carlos and Linda LeGerrette have been committed to service, equality, education, and social justice. On Saturday, May 17, at the college’s 50th commencement exercises, the couple was named the recipients of the college’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award.

“Mesa College is where we cut our teeth. It was our beginning. Without the great teaching and guidance from our professors I doubt very seriously that we would have the foundation necessary in making the wonderful and challenging decisions that have brought us to where we are today. Mixed that together with our work with our mentors, Cesar Chavez and Sol Price, we are truly a couple totally blessed,” said Linda LeGerrette.

As students at San Diego Mesa College in the mid-1960s, the young couple was inspired primarily by Professor Gracia Molina de Pick, and started a student club that would later become MEChA. Inspired by Molina de Pick, they attended a meeting of the local support group of the Delano grape strike, and their life’s path was sealed.   [Read more…]

You Don’t Want to Miss the Golden Hill Street Fair – Sunday, Oct. 13

Its back … the Golden Hill Street Fair.

The 2nd annual Golden Hill Street Fair is happening this Sunday, October 13th from 10:30AM until 8PM, and will be held on 25th Street in Golden Hill.

The event will feature an incredible array of delicious local food, have a shaded beer garden with selection of local craft beer. This event will bring together Southern California musicians to highlight the music scene in our neighborhood with free live music all day.

The musical acts include San Diego Music Awards nominees Tropical Popsicle, Wild Wild Wets, and Ed Ghost Tucker.   [Read more…]

Progressive Politics in the Post-Filner Era; Getting Beyond “BlenderGate”

By Doug Porter

Rumors of the Filner’s imminent resignation swirled through the city yesterday like scraps of newsprint caught up in the wind eddies regularly whipping through San Diego’s downtown canyons.

Could IT be today? Would IT be this week? Was the City Attorney working out a deal?

Several dozen people gathered at mid-day to protest the possible return of Mayor Bob Filner to City Hall, chanting “Bob must go!” for the assembled press corps.  The minions of the mainstream media nodded their heads in approval.

The organizers of the recall movement weren’t taking the resignation rumors seriously.  Organizer and Republican activist Michael Pallamary told UT-San Diego, “There’s no reason to believe he will resign. It’s not in his DNA. You got people now turning their tune from resign to recall. There’s only recall. There’s no way he’s going to resign.”   [Read more…]

CicloSDias San Diego – From Golden Hill to City Heights and Back

Yesterday, Sunday, August 11th was CicloSDias in San Diego. Three friends and I – all on bikes – joined the celebrated 5.2 miles of open roads and streets just for bicycles and pedestrians, and we rode from Golden Hill, through North Park, over to City Heights – and back.

Weather was perfect, the streets were cleared of cars – except for the four that we counted along the way – and there was an enthusiastic turn-out for the event. Hundreds of San Diegans took part in the 6 hour free bike tour thr0ugh San Diego’s mid-city. Yes, hundreds – not the thousands that we wanted to see – came out. We wanted to see hordes on bikes – but were happy with what we saw and experienced.

Ever so often, there would be a few tents and the canopies of booths open to participants, some giving away gifts, others selling their bicycling-related products and services.
  [Read more…]

Readers Write: Growing Up Golden

by Lucesita Gomez

Situated south of Balboa Park lies the neighborhood of Golden Hills. This neighborhood was where I spent my childhood. I lived with my parents and my mothers’ parents in the 19th Street apartments, the ones next to the East 94 Martin Luther King, Jr. freeway sign.

I have very fond memories. Each morning I’d smell the coffee my Abuelita would make for herself and my mother, while I would have mine with milk and animal crackers. My Abuelita used wooden plates, and I always loved to hear my Lucky Charms hit the bowl.

After breakfast, I’d go exploring. Since we lived in the first house, I’d go walking along the path over to the last house. I remember there being a garden in the backyard, and I would sometimes sit and play in the dirt, or I would play in the bushes or with the flowers. In our front yard I’d sometimes go and sit on the grass, just watching people pass by, or I would sit and watch the cars go by.   [Read more…]

The Reader! It Climbs Up Golden Hill!!

By Bob Dorn

Cover Story – If it reads well who cares what it says?

Ironic, I thought, walking toward the old Carpenter’ Union Hall building, a sniff of jasmine in the air above the cracked and fig-tree-uplifted sidewalks that were causing me to stagger as if I’d just spent my 70th birthday with my bichon frise, The Ramone, at my feet waiting for me to finish my 12-pack of Rolling Rock so I could take him on his fourth or fifth walk of the damn day.

A fresh new paint job had transformed the building into something like a deco neighborhood movie palace, just intrusive enough to say, “In your face, you phonies” without (or maybe, with) some understated malice.

It had been years since I’d written anything for The Reader, but here I was, invited to the office-warming at its new home, 2323 Broadway, in Golden Hill. I had to wonder if I would, or should, know anybody who’d be there. Who was left?   [Read more…]

Grassroots Organizing Succeeds, City Attorney Fails As Filner Budget Approved

Bus Passes, Library Funding and Arts Programs All Get Funded

By Doug Porter

It’s a new day in San Diego as the priorities of the Filner administration are becoming reality with the passage of the City budget for 2013-2014.

Yesterday the San Diego City Council approved a $2.75 billion budget including a $1.2 billion general fund, which pays for basic services like public safety and recreation centers. Virtually all of Mayor Filner’s proposals were endorsed.

The vote on the overall budget was 7-2, with Councilmen Kevin Faulconer and Scott Sherman opposing.  Faulconer complained about a ‘missed opportunity’ with the budget, objecting to an overall increase of $30 million with no cuts in ‘waste’.  Sherman’s negative vote was prompted, according to news accounts, by his objections to ‘expansion of government’.   [Read more…]

Excavating Golden Hill: The Golden Hill Fountain Grotto

By Jim Miller

For my last Golden Hill piece, I turned to the wisdom of my 9 year-old son Walter, who, in answer to my query about what he liked best about his neighborhood said, “It’s old and grungy, not fake like the suburbs.”  And of all his favorite places in the neighborhood, he chose the Golden Hill Fountain Grotto because, “It’s a ruin.  You can tell it used to be all fancy and now it’s falling apart with graffiti and stuff.  It’s like something they’d find if we became an extinct species.”

Walt also likes the surrounding Golden Hill Gateway Park because, “it’s where the wilderness meets the city.  There are animals that live there and secret paths and canyons that make you forget where you are.”  So off we went to investigate.   [Read more…]

Desde la Logan: Artist Mario Acevedo Reflects on Golden Hill

By Brent E. Beltrán

Mario “Torero” Acevedo is one of those crazy cats that you look at and instantly think this guy is an artist. He rocks the cool shades with a stylin’ hat, neatly trimmed white beard and occasional outlandish, paint splattered threads.

But he’s more than just a crazy artist. He’s San Diego history. He is Chicano history even though he’s from Peru. And since he came to San Diego in 1960 he’s been an integral part of Golden Hill’s history.

Torero has a long history of being an artivist in San Diego. From the founding of Chicano Park and the Centro Cultural de la Raza to the Community Arts Center and Sol Arts Gallery to Reincarnation, the Art Station and more. He was instrumental in leading the effort to change the name of Crosby St. in Logan to Cesar Chavez Parkway. His artwork can be seen all over San Diego.   [Read more…]

Eating 25th Street in Golden Hill – Part III: Dinner

By Emma Goldman

My eyes adjusted to the darkness of the dimly lit bar from the bright early evening sunshine outside as my husband and I crossed the foyer of the Turf Supper Club. Immediately, my stomach started growling as the aroma of charring steak wafted out from the inner room that holds a large grill table capped by a giant copper hood.

We shinnied up to the bar that dominates the right side of the front room and each ordered a Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, contemplating our dining options along with the eclectic displays of horse racing pictures, Dia de los Muertos skeletons, Christmas lights, and gleaming, jewel-like bottles of liquor.

A longtime denizen of Golden Hill’s 25th Street corridor, the Turf Club (as we’ve always called it) skirts the line between dive and trendy.   [Read more…]

Enterprise Zone Reform, Ban on Plastic Bags Getting a Chance in Sacramento

By Doug Porter

The political will to reform California’s state enterprise zone (EZ) program has finally reached critical mass in the wake of the disclosures via a Public Records Act request documenting tens of thousands of dollars in tax credits going to Sacramento-area strip club owners.

A televised report by KCRA news, complete with footage shot inside an area strip club, has provided reform supporters with a boost. The State of California is losing out on $750 million in revenues annually due to EZ program….

Get ready for another PR assault on sanity, brought to Californians by a group calling itself the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA).

It seems as though the APBA and their allies haven’t been able to spread enough money around Sacramento to stop a Senate vote this week on Senate Bill 405, which would phase out plastic shopping bags. Two other bills with much the same purpose died in committee.

INSIDE: The Race to Replace Everybody’s Favorite Congressional Wacko   [Read more…]

Excavating Golden Hill: Between “South Park” and “the Other Side of the Freeway”

By Jim Miller

The southern border of Golden Hill is clearly marked by the 94 Freeway that sets it off from what much of the city still refers to as “Southeast San Diego.”

Despite City Council Member George Stevens’s successful effort in 1992 to ban the use of that moniker in any official city business, it lives on in the cultural imagination of San Diego and, for many white suburbanites, stands in for “the bad part of town,” teeming with gangs, crime, and urban squalor.

Indeed, despite years of dropping crime rates and gentrification, the image of the southern part of Greater Golden Hill as a kind of liminal zone between “South Park” and the ‘hood persists in some quarters of San Diego’s culture of fear.

As someone who spent a lot of time visiting friends in the neighborhood back in the day, well before this current wave of gentrification began, I find this to be an amusing but sad phenomenon, as even when Golden Hill was grittier than it is now, it was never rough compared to other big American cities like Los Angeles or Oakland. What distinguishes Golden Hill from other parts of San Diego then is not crime, but race and class, as it is still browner and more working class than downtown, Bankers Hill, or “South Park.”   [Read more…]

Where Will Taxi Drivers, Hotel Maids, Grocery Clerks, School Aides and Retired People Live? A City Heights–Golden Hill Conversation

The San Diego Free Press neighborhood focus during the month of May has been on Golden Hill, one of San Diego’s oldest communities. One of the most visible elements of Golden Hill is the elegant old mansions that comprise the historic district.

These mansions are a tangible reminder of individual wealth and power amassed in years past. Today, many of those mansions are still owner occupied, while some have been divided into rental units; others are now attorney offices or operated as half-way houses. These disparate uses reflect a more nuanced story about wealth, power and changing demographics in Golden Hill today.

I spent a few hours walking around Golden Hill, not along the historic or commercial district, but along one particular side street off of 25th Street that has been beckoning to me. I set off down a steep hill and explored streets that dead ended at the 94 Freeway or on the other end, at a flight of steps up to Broadway.   [Read more…]

San Diego’s Left Found a Haven in Golden Hill During the 1970s

By Jim Miller

In the first part of my interview with Peter Zschiesche, he discussed Golden Hill past and present and described what he calls “the Golden Hill vibe.”   Much of that feeling came out the politics and culture of the late sixties and early seventies.  In this second and final installment of our interview, Peter talks about that time period and outlines some of the key places and players that made Golden Hill a vital, progressive community.   [Read more…]

Welcome to Golden Park Heights: “A Journey of 1000 Miles Begins with a Single Step”

By Kelly Mayhew and Jim Miller

For those who know progressive politics in San Diego, Carlos and Linda LeGerrette are local legends. Starting with their roles in founding MEChA at Mesa College in the sixties and flowing through their deep involvement with Cesar Chavez and the farmworkers movement to their local community activism and fine work with the Cesar Chavez Service Clubs in our schools, the Legrettes’ great hearts and regard for their neighbors is boundless.

No one has done more for their community than Carlos and Linda LeGerrette, and they are greatly loved and respected by all those who they have touched over the years. It was our absolute pleasure to interview them on their lives, work, and deep roots in a place they jokingly call “Golden Park Heights.”   [Read more…]

Eating 25th Street in Golden Hill Part II: Lunch

By Emma Goldman

After making your way back from Tobey’s 19th Hole Café, which I mentioned in last week’s column, it’s time to turn your feet—and your stomach—to lunch. The 25th Street corridor from Gateway Park to the bridge over 94 in Golden Hill has probably more places for lunch than for any other meal since it serves the offices of many lawyers, architects, small businesses, nonprofits, and the like as well as neighborhood denizens and students and staff at City College just down C Street. Thus, a plethora of tastes await you as you meander down the street.

If you’re in the mood for sandwiches, salads, baked goods, and an array of drinks such as coffees, teas, smoothies, homemade lemon and limeades, beer, and wine, then stop in at Krakatoa on the west side of 25th between B and C. Just a block from the park, and nestled in an old, olive green Craftsman cottage under a giant magnolia tree, Krakatoa beckons you to come relax awhile either outside on their wraparound wooden patio or inside their funky dining space.

As you walk up the front steps, pooches greet you from under their owners’ tables and students hunker over their laptops, tapping out term papers at the seating areas ringing the deck. The lines at lunch can be long, but it’s worth the wait.   [Read more…]

Field of View: A Journey Through the Golden Hill Historic District

Written by Jim Miller; Photos by Annie Lane

To walk in Golden Hill is to wander through a patchwork quilt of history and wonder.  As a renter in a community full of grand old houses that I’ll never be able to afford to buy, I frequently think of Thoreau’s ruminations on ownership in Walden: “As long as it is possible, live free and uncommitted.  It makes little difference whether you are committed to a farm or the county jail.”

Indeed, the grand old houses of Golden Hill may now be well beyond the reach of most folks in the neighborhood to ever buy, but, if they have eyes to see, they can, as Thoreau says of the poet who truly sees the landscape, own the whole neighborhood.  And I think of that as I watch the working class families out for walks with their kids, apartment dwellers strolling with their dogs, halfway house residents stretching their legs, or even my homeless neighbors lounging on the steps by the manicured lawn and lush garden of some lawyer’s office.   [Read more…]

Excavating Golden Hill: The Japanese American Christian Church

By Jim Miller

It’s easy to miss, tucked away at the elbow of 19th and E streets just above Interstate 5: the Japanese American Christian Church in Golden Hill. You’d most likely drive past this humble place of worship on the way up Broadway without noticing it, but if you happened to be on a stroll down E Street looking at the nice old houses, you’d stumble upon it after the bigger homes give way to a series of California bungalows. It’s there before E turns right into 19th. Across the street from the church, a chain-link fence lines the sidewalk above the 5 where the homeless set up camp on a regular basis before they are swept out and relocated only to return again when the police shift their attention elsewhere.

Historically, the church itself is a product of a relocation of a different sort. As my City College colleague, historian Susan Hasegawa informed me, it was originally founded as the Japanese Holiness Church by Christian Nikkei (immigrants and their descendents) in 1930 and located on Newton Avenue. Sponsored by the Oriental Mission Society, the church focused its efforts on outreach to Issei (first generation immigrant) farmers.   [Read more…]

Gravity’s Rainbow: From the Mariana Islands to Brooklyn Heights/Golden Hill/South Park

By Jay Powell

“An unarmed Minuteman-3 intercontinental ballistic missile was test-launched (on April 7, 2006) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The missile’s single, unarmed re-entry vehicle traveled approximately 8,200 km (5,100 miles), striking a pre-determined water target near Guam in the Northern Mariana Islands. The launch was part of a developmental test to demonstrate the weapon’s effectiveness at an extended range. The Minuteman-3 missile originated from the 564th Missile Squadron at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.” (from various news releases including “The Mercenary Missileer’s Missile News”).

It is a little under 5,000 miles to the Marianas (just above the equator between Longitudes 145-165 E to Brooklyn Heights, San Diego (Lat 32.724, Long – 117.129 W). But more about that later. Now, about this “Do I live in Golden Hill or South Park?” controversy. As the old Americana saying goes: “you can call me Jay or you can call me Ray, just don’t call me late for dinner. “ For a variety of political and geographic and geologic reasons, place names evolve. Sometimes it is very much a matter of branding for real estate purposes.

This name of place issue kind of parallels the name of the community of City Heights which was taken in 1981 by the Community Development Corporation founders led by Jim Bliesner from the name of the largest subdivision in what had been the “Golden Rule” city of East San Diego. Later there were some residents of the City Heights neighborhood of Cherokee Point who thought they ought to be a part of North Park because they had a 92104 zip code. But it was still in the officially adopted community plan area of City Heights. Regardless of what the real estate salesperson or the post office, or the subdivision map or the City says, the people who live in their neighborhood get to call it whatever they want.   [Read more…]

Excavating Golden Hill: The Mansion on the Hill

By Jim Miller

Coming up Broadway from downtown, it’s the one thing you can’t miss: the Quartermass/Wilde house, the Xanadu of Golden Hill. In the heart of a district of historic homes, this one serves as a monument to the elite status of Golden Hill in the beginning of the last century. One of the biggest of the remaining Victorian mansions in the city, it is also one of San Diego’s most spectacular historic structures.

With its marvelous rococo towers, Doric columns, and stunning domed cupola, the Quartermass/Wilde House looms atop the hill. This gorgeous Queen Anne Victorian mixes in elements of classical revival style as it sits above the street on stone retaining walls amidst a beautifully landscaped yard featuring a huge Star Pine. When one approaches the house from the intersection of Broadway and 24th, the stairway of the unique corner entrance beckons like Gatsby with the promise of unspeakable wonder.

Once inside, one is greeted by an ornately carved stairwell, walls covered with wood paneling and elaborate tapestries, stained glass windows on the landing, a wine cellar, and 8800 square feet of elegant domestic space. Built in 1897 by department store owner Ruben Quartermass, this mansion spoke the status that was the elite enclave of Golden Hill.   [Read more…]

The “Self Appointed Mayor of Golden Hill” Holds Court in the Big Kitchen

By Jim Miller and Kelly Mayhew

Judy Forman is a Golden Hill institution. Her restaurant, the Big Kitchen Café, has served as a center of community life and activism for many years. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine the neighborhood without her or her place. I first went to the Big Kitchen myself in the eighties when I met with folks involved in the protest movement against Reagan Administration policies in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

More recently, Judy helped Kelly and me out by playing the role of Emma Goldman in the 100-year Anniversary of the San Diego Free Speech Fight when local labor and Occupy folks took over the intersection of 5th and E downtown. Over the years Forman has been active in LGBT politics, helped out with fundraisers for the Center on Policy Initiative’s Students for Economic Justice Internship program, started the New Play Café (a company devoted to helping playwrights develop their work), and offered up her “kitchen,” as she likes to say, to far too many people to name here.

Thus, to make a long story short, Forman has had her hand in much local activism over the past thirty some odd years and the Big Kitchen has always been one of the progressive hubs of San Diego and the heart of the neighborhood. It was our pleasure to interview her for this Golden Hill series.   [Read more…]

Big Food, Big Heart: The Big Kitchen

The Big Kitchen Café
3003 Grape St.
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 234-5789

Review by Emma Goldman

“Kindness Matters.” The sign tacked above the doorframe leading into the kitchen caught my eye as my 9 year-old and I took a seat at the horseshoe shaped counter that hunkers down in the center of the main dining room of the Big Kitchen Café, a Greater Golden Hill/South Park institution.

As we waited for one of the bevy of young servers to come get our order, we couldn’t keep from scanning the heavily festooned walls—customers’ family photos, progressive bumper stickers, band flyers, necklaces, cartoons, feathers, pastel teapots, mandalas, salt and pepper shakers in funny shapes, kids’ art, magazine covers touting the restaurant, plaques of appreciation, etc.

There is no other place in San Diego like the Big Kitchen, a community center and diner that has anchored Greater Golden Hill since the early-‘70s. And at its helm, of course, is its warm and irrepressible owner, Judy “the Beauty on Duty” Forman, who is the very soul of kindness.   [Read more…]