SAN DIEGO — Very soon, San Diego‘s LGBT community will see a colorful symbol of their pride flying high above the Hillcrest neighborhood.
On Tuesday, the City Council voted 7-0 to approve a proposal by the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) to install a 65-foot flagpole in the median on Normal Street where it intersects with University Avenue.
City Councilmember Lorie Zapf was absent from the vote.
The plan calls for the pole to fly an 18 foot x 12 foot rainbow pride flag year-round, and include some minor enhancements to the median, around the base of the flagpole.
Many city residents came to today’s meeting to speak to the council in favor of or in opposition to the project, although the number of people present supporting the project greatly outnumbered those against.
Longtime anti-gay opponent James Hartline called the flag project a “giveaway of public land” even though that is a false claim.
Steve Greenwald called the flagpole a “public safety issue” because of its size, and fears it would topple.
Despite only several negative comments, the general sentiment in the audience favored the project. Speakers in support of the project greatly outnumbered those opposed.
Nicholas Moade, owner of Rich’s and a donor to the flag project, urged the City Council to pass Item 333. “This flag symbolized tolerance and diversity,” Moade said. “As long as LGBT youth are being bullied … it is important to fly this flag as a beacon of hope.”
Dwayne Crenshaw, executive director of San Diego Pride, said Pride is a partner in this private effort. He said Pride would maintain the site year-around.
Michael Brennan, a Hillcrest resident and owner of Urban Green, said the flag “represents me.” As one of the project’s designers, he disputed criticism that the flagpole was too large scale. “This will inspire the community,” he said to applause.
Courtney Ray, who calls herself a straight ally, said the flag represents her as well.
Joel Trambley, a city Human Relations commissioner, said his panel approves of the project. He said rainbow flag is a symbol of tolerance and diversity as values that San Diego supports.
District 3 City Councilman Todd Gloria, who is openly gay, spoke in favor of the project. He applauded that the project will be paid for in full without using taxpayer money. “This has been truly a community effort,” he said.
City Councilman Carl DeMaio, one of two mayoral candidates who is also openly gay, said a great city is defined by its diversity. He noted that the project had widespread community support and doesn’t cost taxpayer money. He seconded Gloria’s motion to approve the project.