Meet the 2019 North Park Planning Committee Candidates.
Here is a roster in alphabetical order of some of the candidates that are running for the eight (8) open seats in the March 19, 2019 election with biographical background provided by the candidates themselves. Information about the election and other useful links can be found after the Candidate Statements.
Michael Bagnas has the unique distinction of being a lifelong San Diegan and North Park native, with a family residence in North Park that was home to 5 generations dating back to WWII. Growing up he attended local North Park schools, McKinley Elementary, St. Patrick’s, and St. Augustine High School. Staying local, he then attended UCSD while working for San Diego Federal Savings & Loan, mostly at the North Park branch (then located at Idaho & University). Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Management Science, he continued his career in financial services for 30+ years, mainly in the Qualified Retirement Plans (401k/Pension) arena. He is currently a member of the North Park Historical Society, the PSA Flight 182 Historic Memorial Committee, and a board member of the St. Augustine Alumni Association. You can say that I live and breathe North Park, and know much of its history and transformation having lived it. He has seen plenty of change over his lifetime. Mostly good. Some…perhaps not so good. The one thing he does not want to see change in our cherished neighborhood is the charm and quality of life that he was fortunate enough to have enjoyed here as kid, young adult, and now as an older adult. If you want someone on this board that loves and cares about all things North Park, then he is your candidate.
Steve Billings (incumbent) is currently on the board of directors of the North Park Main Street Association and is proud to be a sitting member of the North Park Planning Committee for the past four months. Mostly importantly he has been a resident and business owner in North Park for over 13 years. He eats, shops and sleeps in North Park. He is highly motivated to preserve the history of North Park while intelligently managing its growth.
Bob Dennis has been interested in the development and history of North Park since he moved to the area in 2009. Last year he became a homeowner in North Park. He is impressed by current Committee members and hope to work with them to improve living and working conditions in North Park. His contribution would be a thoughtful approach to balancing the needs of businesses and residents and managing the impact of increased urban density on the community. He is especially interested in working to preserve North Park’s history and architecture, finding better solutions to homelessness, improving transportation, and ensuring our local voice is well represented citywide. He has some familiarity with the planning process from experiences earlier in his career as a local government attorney (Nevada County and San Luis Obispo County). He is currently employed as Patent Counsel in a small local medical device company.
Arash Kahvazadeh has called San Diego home for the past 16 years and been a North Park resident since 2015. Arash and his wife own an apartment at the very northern part of North Park and as longtime San Diegan has witnessed the neighborhood changing over time: from Kadan to Polite Previsions & An’s Dry Cleaning to An’s Dry Cleaning Ice Cream Shop. Arash holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from SDSU and MBA from USD. He has spent his entire professional career in public transportation industry first with Cubic Transportation as an electrical engineer, program manager, and product manager, and more recently as business development lead for urban mobility with MasterCard. Arash loves walkability, diversity and the genuine neighborhood atmosphere of North Park and is passionate about maintaining its culture, supporting small businesses, growing access to alternative modes of transportation and maintaining the historical nature of the neighborhood.
Aria Pounaki has lived in San Diego since 2015, recently becoming a homeowner in North Park in 2018. Aria works for Becton Dickinson, one of the largest medical device manufacturers in the world, where he uses his background in regulations, marketing, and project management to help deliver complex and innovative products to market. When he is not using these skills professionally, he is leveraging them in San Diego with a local Democratic Party club as a committee chair, the Urban Land Institute’s Young Leaders Program, and an active membership with the San Diego Architectural Foundation. The intersection between all these civic engagements is a focus on using land use and planning to create spaces that work for the public good. Aria hopes to have your vote so he can use the skills he has to help NPPC continue to advocate for a North Park that remains dynamic, fun, and walkable!
Jen Sabo Spencer is a Landscape Architect who moved into the North Park neighborhood with her husband 19 years ago. She is extremely passionate about placemaking and have actively spearheaded several beautification/art projects at the neighborhood schools her children have attended – McKinley Elementary and Roosevelt Middle School. Throughout her professional career, she gained valuable experience working at several prestigious local and national Landscape Architectural firms. She recently started her own firm, Studio 2912 Landscape Architecture, based in North Park. She has seen the neighborhood change A LOT over the years, but never lose the charm and personality that she fell in love with 19 years ago. She and her husband feel incredibly lucky to have had their kids grow up in such a diverse, vibrant community full of supportive people! She would be extremely excited to become part of the North Park Planning Committee.
Matt Stucky is a homeowner near the south end of North Park, where he lives with his wife and three young children. He loves our community and want to ensure it remains a great place to live and raise a family. As an attorney working for the State of California, he is well versed in the laws, regulations, and policies that apply to our government at all levels. In his profession, he has developed the skills necessary to research and analyze difficult problems and craft broad-based solutions. If elected to the planning committee, his priorities would be to push the City to invest in the necessary infrastructure to make North Park a safe place for everyone to walk and bike and to achieve the goals of the Climate Action Plan, support new housing so our neighbors aren’t forced to leave when they can no longer afford to live here, and maintain the qualities of our community that make North Park one of the best places to live. As someone currently in the process of personally seeking historic designation of his nearly 100-year-old house, he has come to appreciate the history of North Park and believes we can adapt as a community without unreasonably sacrificing the historic assets that make our community so unique. He is proud to currently serve on the Policy Committee for Circulate San Diego, proud to be an early member of the YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County, and would be proud to represent his neighbors on the North Park Planning Committee.
Tim Taylor (incumbent) and his wife have owned a house in the Morley Field neighborhood of North Park since 2014. He has lived in the San Diego region for most of his life. He is now retired, having worked nearly 20 years as City Planner for various local governments in the region, and also for seven years as a staffer for San Diego City Councilmember Emerald. He has a Master’s Degree in City Planning. He began serving on the North Park Planning Committee in 2017 and is currently the group’s representative to North Park Main Street Business Improvement District, and the alternative representative to the Community Planner’s Committee. He is also on the Design Review subcommittee. He previously served five years on the Tierrasanta Community Planning Group.
Eduardo Velasquez (incumbent) is a North Park homeowner and resident. He works as a researcher at a non-profit economic development organization and relies on public transportation to commute downtown. He also serves as Board Chair of Circulate San Diego, a think tank that advocates for creating excellent mobility choices and vibrant, healthy neighborhoods. Eduardo joined the NPPC in 2016 and currently serves as the Chair of the Public Facilities and Transportation subcommittee.
René Vidales (incumbent) is a home owner and resident, a civil engineer and sustainability professional with experience in land development in both the private and public sectors; he currently works for a local jurisdiction as a storm water program coordinator. He has contributed in writing the award winning North Park Community Plan and has given presentations on North Park at local, national and international conferences. René saw a number of changes happening rapidly in his block in North Park, and that is what got him involved with the NPPC. He has previously volunteered with North Park Main Street in implementing their sustainability initiatives and has also volunteered with the San Diego Green Building Council to help the Old Globe Theater Complex in Balboa Park obtain their LEED Silver Certification. He currently chairs the North Park Planning Committee and has taken different leadership roles in the committee over the years. René would like to continue making North Park a vibrant and sustainable community for today’s and future generations.
A Way to Get Involved in Your Community
Eligible residents and businesses can participate and vote in the upcoming North Park Planning Committee (NPPC) election in March.
To be eligible to vote in the March 19, 2019 NPPC election, you must live, work, own property, or own a business1 in North Park2, have a valid Membership Registration Form on file, have signed in at one NPPC meeting3 prior to the elections and present valid identification4. Meetings start at 6:30 p.m. at North Park Christian Fellowship, 2901 North Park Way, across from the parking garage. Although it may be beneficial to become familiar with the topics discussed during the meeting, it is not required to stay for the entire meeting once you sign in.
The NPPC provides advisory recommendations to the City’s Planning Commission and City Council regarding projects in the community, and is recognized by the City as an important part of the approval process including but not limited to new development, public facilities, and transportation. The more participants, the more influence we have on the future of North Park: how it will look and what it will include.
The NPPC offers many ways for you to get involved!
– Attend the monthly General Meetings.
– Learn how City government operates and how its decisions affect North Park.
– Hear City representatives, staff from elected officials, prospective developers and community members present their vision of the future of North Park.
– Ask questions and voice your own opinion about matters before the NPPC.
1 Business owners may designate a representative to vote on their behalf and present a letter from the property owner designating a representative to vote in the election along with a valid identification
2 The general boundaries of the North Park Planning Area are: Park Boulevard on the west, Interstate 805 on the east, the south rim of Mission Valley on the north, and South Park (along the middle of Juniper Street from the east side of Balboa Park to 32nd Street, then south and east to Interstate 15) on the south
3 You must attend one General Meeting between April (of the previous year) and February to vote or run for a Board seat in the March General Election
4 Valid identification must show the name of the voter and qualifying North Park address, and may include a California Driver License. If the qualifying North Park address is not shown on the California Driver License, then additional information such as a Property Tax Bill, or Utility Bill may be shown
Links for Additional Information:
For questions about the election, email email@example.com