Pedestrian promenade will replace Hillcrest roadway

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Association of Governments voted unanimously to accept 2.2 million dollars from the City of San Diego to transform Normal Street in Hillcrest into a pedestrian promenade.

Earlier this month, San Diego City Councilors approved the transfer of funds from its capital improvements program to SANDAG, which will manage the planning, design and construction of the project.

The plan is backed by the Hillcrest Business Association and other city leaders.

“I think communities are hungry for alternative transportation opportunities, creating safe spaces to be able to walk and bicycle and scooter, and make a landscape that works for everybody," said District Three Councilmember Christopher Ward.

Early renderings of the project show the west side of Normal Street, from University Avenue to Washington Street, closed to vehicle traffic, and the east side becoming a two-lane street with slanted parking.

Forty additional parking spots will be added between Lincoln Avenue and Washington Street.

The bike route will fold into the Eastern Hillcrest Bikeways Project, connecting bicyclists to a network of protected bike lanes around the county. City leaders said the plan would also expand Pride Plaza to better accommodate the Hillcrest Farmers Market and other neighborhood events.

“This will make it more attractive and inviting and it will draw people in the neighborhood out to enjoy it," Hillcrest resident, Bill Kilgore said.

However, Kilgore, and other residents have concerns about the promenade attracting a homeless population.

"Everybody is really fed up with the homeless,  and they are concerned that this will draw more people living and sleeping on that green space rather than us having events," Kilgore said.

“I don't think it's a great idea," said Antoine Hanna, the owner of a salon on Normal Street. "We have a major problem with homeless. I can tell you, from my experience, every week or every other week I have to clean undesirable things from the front of my salon.”

The first public meeting to comment on the project is January 22nd. Time and location is to be determined, said a city spokesperson.

Construction on the promenade is set to begin in 2020.

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