A Way to Get Involved in Your Community.

Eligible residents and businesses can participate and vote in the upcoming North Park Planning Committee (NPPC) General Election in March.

To be eligible to vote in the March 17, 2020 NPPC General 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 General Election 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 General 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

Meet the 2020 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 2020 election with biographical background provided by the candidates themselves.

Beau Benko fell in love with San Diego after attending UCSD and moved to the North Park after graduating in 2015 with a degree in Economics and Cognitive Science. Beau currently works in US Bank and is a renter in North Park but hopes to own a home in the area one day because he’s fallen in love with the community. Beau has a passion for understanding city planning and believes local housing and planning decisions can have very serious effects for the wellbeing of the community and on its most vulnerable members. He believes in supporting local businesses and that everyone benefits when there are safe streets. For this reason Beau is running for the Planning Committee to represent North Park.

Darla Dunham is a North Park resident, as she has rented the same house for 17 years and is also a North Park small business owner. She has lived in other parts of California but moving to San Diego and especially to North Park was instrumental in achieving sobriety and turning her life around. This is a very warm and supportive community, and she would want to give back by serving on the NPPC Board. Through Darla’s professional pet-sitting service, she has become friends with many North Park neighbors. She has heard many people express concerns about transportation challenges. And North Park neighborhoods are suffering from the City’s inability to enforce laws and codes. We need to bring our community together to solve problems we have in common. That would be her focus if elected to the Board.

Claudia Flores thinks of North Park as family. Five generations of her family —grandparents, mom, aunts, uncles, cousins and children — live in the same North Park neighborhood, and they are truly blessed. Over time, Claudia’s neighbors have become like family to them. For her, this is the real strength of North Park. Claudia and her husband Marcos launched a Neighborhood Watch group to encourage neighbors to pull together. They have reached out to everyone, including homeless people who need charity and compassion. She states that police and City government can’t watch over us 24/7. Claudia thinks we need to be proactive and always remember that you can’t have “community” without “unity.” She has been working for years to empower her neighbors. Claudia wants to take that to the next step as a member of the NPPC Board.

Daniel Gebreselassie (incumbent) has been a North Park resident for over 30 years. He has been a member of the North Park Planning Committee board for the last 6 years and has served as a Chair of the Public Facilities and Transportation Subcommittee for 2 years. He is a regular participant of both the Urban Design and Public Facilities subcommittees and has worked on several projects including the North Park Community Plan update and Bike Corridor projects.

Ellin Halgunseth is a retired professional nurse, with a BSN degree from San Diego State. In 1976, Ellin and her husband bought their first and only home, here in North Park. Their son could hardly wait to sign up for the North Park Little League, and Ellin signed up as Team Mom. Joe Schloss, Little League coach, helped their son pick out his first baseball glove. If that name sounds familiar to you, maybe you have driven on the Joe Schloss Way, at Morley Field. It was named after Joe, in honor his 60 years of community service with the youth of North Park. North Park has an interesting history that should be celebrated. It is why our community exists today. Ellin loves living here. She loves our “small town” feeling, our quirky businesses, our Craftsman and Spanish Revival architecture. And most of all, our family-friendly neighborhoods. If elected to the North Park Planning Committee, it will be a privilege to serve her community.

Peter Hill feels lucky to have been able to live in North Park and be part of its civic life for 13 years. As past NPPC subcommittee Chair, for five years he efficiently led 40-plus meetings of the Urban Design / Project Review subcommittee, where members worked hard to review 9 major projects, complete the North Park Community Plan, and above all listen to and represent members of the North Park community. His professional background is in Corporate Finance, with a later certificate in Urban Planning from UC San Diego. He believes it’s important, and never easy, to balance North Park’s future direction with its present needs and rich history, all while keeping the eclectic, ever-evolving character that we all enjoy today.

Lizzy Davis Hynd is a grassroots community organizer who has lived in San Diego for a decade. She has her MA in Peace and Justice from the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego. Lizzy’s passions lie in advancing the voices of marginalized communities. An avid proponent of mental health and social justice, Lizzy has been an activist for many years. Currently, Lizzy is an organizer and facilitator of San Diego Sister Circle, a group that brings women together to highlight their experiences and unique talents. She also works with high schoolers to develop their leadership skills and teach them how to be advocates in their respective communities. Lizzy loves living in North Park. Her favorite spots to walk to on a daily basis are the library, local coffee shops, Dexter’s Deli (treats for her fur baby), Simply Local, and the amazing mix of restaurants. She can also be seen checking out live music at The Observatory. Lizzy’s unique experience of grassroots mobilization and social justice-oriented thinking would make her an excellent addition to the North Park Planning Committee.

Robert (Bob) LaRose is running for the North Park Planning Committee because he wants to give back to the community that has given his family such great enjoyment. Robert and his wife Joan live in the Morley Field area and you may have seen one or both of them on their daily walks or hikes with our little Black and White dog, Reilly, around the neighborhood, at the local dog parks, in the Canyons or in Balboa Park. They moved to North Park at the suggestion of one of their sons, who bought his first house here and said that North Park was “the place to be.” Bob’s son was certainly right, and Bob and his wife have come to love the shops, restaurants, ambiance, walkability, and diversity of the North Park Community. Bob is an Engineer by training and has been fortunate enough to be involved in projects around the world, mainly in developing countries. Most recently he is one of the co-founders of a tech start-up company here in San Diego. Bob has done some volunteering around the community including the San Diego Diplomacy Council (formerly on 30th Street), Neighborhood Clean-up, and Bird Park Concerts. At the urging of others Bob has agreed that it is time to give back to this wonderful community using his technical, analytical and organizational skills to help North Park thrive and be enjoyed by future generations.

Rebecca Lieberman is running to be on the North Park Planning Committee because she wants to become a more involved member of my vibrant North Park community. She lives with her partner, Ben, and their sheepadoodle puppy, Woody, in the southwest corner of the neighborhood. They moved to San Diego when Ben received orders to the USS San Diego, stationed out of the 32nd Street Navy Base. Rebecca and Ben chose to live in North Park for many reasons: they love its historic homes, diversity of restaurants, and plethora of breweries. However, one of the largest reasons they chose North Park is because they can both bike to work and walk to dinner. As a city planner by trade, Rebecca seeks to live in and create vibrant and livable urban spaces. In her current role as a policy advisor at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, she understands the importance of small businesses, affordable homes, and an array of transportation options to our regional economy. Rebecca believes North Park is one of the most unique neighborhoods in San Diego because of its strong local economy, walkable streets, and proximity to Balboa Park and she hopes to use herseat on the planning committee to lift up and support the parts of the neighborhood that she loves.

Sarah Cook McAlear (incumbent) is a North Park homeowner originally hailing from Colorado. She fell in love with North Park’s tight-knit community, vibrant business district, and proximity to open spaces. Her husband is one of the owners of Bluefoot Bar, and she began attending Committee meetings as part of an effort to improve quality of life issues for neighbors near the bar. Sarah believes it’s important for businesses with significant impact on the community to be good stewards. She has been a NPPC board member since 2013, serving a portion of that time as Secretary, Vice Chair and now Treasurer. After over 10 years working as an analyst and project manager at the Salk Institute, she now juggles managing the office for her family’s roofing company and being a full-time mama to her 1-year old.

Daniel Molitor chose to make North Park home after growing up in Indiana and spending some time in the Bay Area. As an analyst and former economic researcher for the Federal Reserve, Daniel wants to use data-driven strategies to address problems and improve our neighborhood. Daniel thinks every neighborhood plays a part in the fight against climate change: he wants to fight sprawl and long commutes by ensuring people can live near their work. To get around North Park, Daniel wants to make it easier for our neighbors to leave their cars at home. When it comes to planning infrastructure and development, he will be a voice on the Planning Committee for prioritizing transit and protecting people, whether they’re walking, biking, scooting or skating. Daniel seeks a vision of North Park that preserves its vibes and essence while beautifying the built environment, cleaning the air, and improving the safety of our public spaces.

Steven Oechel is running for a seat on the North Park Planning committee with the support of his wife and two children because he understands the importance of maintaining a sense of community while dealing with issues such as housing density, homelessness, public space, transportation and infrastructure. After receiving an Economics degree from UCSD and a Master’s in Accounting from the University of San Diego, he entered the workforce as a Financial Manager and Cost Accountant for the United States Navy. Managing the financials of large acquisition programs within a complex bureaucracy has afforded Steve many learning opportunities which are beneficial to this planning committee; such as managing development issues, navigating through changes to regulations, interpreting regulations and policy. With these valuable skills and his ambition to be a positive impact on the North Park community, Steve will be a strong contributing member of this committee.

Ginger Partyka has been a homeowner and resident of North Park since 2015. As a strong proponent and user of local businesses, she wants to build a community framework in which those businesses can continue to thrive. Ginger is particularly passionate about reducing traffic, improving community interactions, and increasing affordable housing through increasing housing and transportation choice. She loves the atmosphere of our dense and vibrant community and wants to support planning that furthers increased face-to-face interactions between North Park’s members. She’s excited about the opportunity to serve the North Park residents on the planning committee.

Jessica Ripper moved to San Diego from the East Coast six years ago, already passionate about building communities that are great places for diverse people to live, work, play, learn–and most importantly get to know their neighbors. Since then, she transitioned from a career working with nonprofits and philanthropy to a new role consulting on housing and community development. These experiences help her explore issues and ideas from multiple perspectives and bring about solutions that meet current community needs while maintaining the flexibility to adapt to a changing environment. She is thrilled that her family will be moving into their home in the heart of North Park this summer.

Robert (Bob) Ryan believes his background in small business and in arts and culture promotion gives him a unique perspective on what makes North Park a thriving community. Bob is a long-term North Park resident with a business degree from SDSU, and he was a union blue-collar worker in San Diego for 40 years. Bob’s first job at the age of 12 was working in his family’s successful grocery store on University Avenue. He founded and hosted the successful Spruce Street Summer Solstice block parties for 6 years, with live music and swing dancers. He is also a long-distance bicyclist who has done extensive world touring. He rides every day and wants safe and sane bike routes with input from ALL stakeholders.

Diane Strum grew up in North Park’s Altadena neighborhood and attended neighborhood schools. Although Diane’s personal residence is no longer in North Park, she has owned an apartment building on 30th Street for 20 years along with her husband, Gene, and they are proud to provide high quality, affordable housing here in North Park. Diane’s entire career has been spent in the private, non-profit sector—primarily in health and social services. She ultimately retired from Kaiser Permanente. One of Diane’s job responsibilities there was working with the department of Facilities, Design and Construction, where she helped shepherd the construction of 10 outpatient medical office buildings. Diane represented Kaiser on the Navajo Community Planning Group for several years, as well as the Scripps Ranch CPG as a homeowner prior to that, so she has a fundamental understanding of the planning process. Diane would set two priorities as a planning group member. First, support of North Park’s small businesses by encouraging people to buy in North Park and by listening to the concerns of business owners. Second, to make sure we hold our elected representatives accountable for keeping our entire community fully informed of any and all matters affecting our neighborhoods and its ability to thrive. Diane asks for your vote to help bring a new, reasonable and balanced voice to the North Park Planning Committee.

Victor Torres is proud to be a North Park resident. He attended St. Patrick’s School, played sports in the North Park Little League/NP (Pioneer) Pony-Colt-Palomino baseball leagues/NP San Diego City Softball Leagues, and worshipped at St. Patrick’s Church. Literally, this community has shaped his life. Victor’s career has been spent advocating to improve the lives of working families, so he knows the importance of promoting economic opportunity, especially for our many small businesses, and keeping our neighborhoods safe. As a Board Member, Victor will apply his knowledge and experience of analyzing complex issues and building consensus on resolving common challenges. Keeping our entire community informed about what is going on here is a priority for him, because that’s how we will get more people involved in making North Park a stronger community.

Marissa Tucker (incumbent) takes immense pride in calling North Park her home. Every day she can be seen walking around the neighborhood enjoying and supporting it’s plethora of local business or taking advantage of its close proximity to Balboa park. Marissa knows there are a number of issues facing the neighborhood and as a product manager in the automation industry, Marissa is known for making data-driven decisions and building coalitions to get things done. North Park has a strong working class history and she aims to ensure that affordable housing exists for our workers, families, and those retiring in our amenities-rich neighborhood. Marissa understands that how local neighborhoods are built play a critical role in providing access to jobs, equitability, and reaching San Diego’s climate action goals. This is why Marissa founded Rise North Park and advocates for these values as President of a local democratic club.

Links for Additional Information:

2020 Election Announcement Flyer and Planning Area Map

Voting Requirements and Documents to Bring on Election Day

Eligibility Registration Form

NPPC Bylaws

For questions about the General Election, email info@northparkplanning.org


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