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Letters to the editor – Sept. 29, 2017

Posted: September 29th, 2017 | Editorial, Featured, Letters to the editor | No Comments

Be smart about hepatitis A

The County of San Diego is experiencing a hepatitis A outbreak, which has significant ramifications for the gay male community in San Diego.

This outbreak is not food borne. The outbreak is currently centered in the homeless and injection and other drug-using communities through close person-to-person contact. However, the outbreak is already jumping to other populations and there are over 440 cases with 16 deaths.

The gay male population is a community at high risk for this disease. It is imperative that we get the word out to gay men, especially those who have multiple partners and/or use injection and other drugs. We know from the HIV epidemic that there are a significant number of gay men who engage in both behaviors.

Fortunately there is a vaccine for hepatitis A. The vaccine is available at the County STD Clinic, located at 3851 Rosecrans St. in the Sports Arena area, at most community health centers, and from your health care provider.

Until you get vaccinated, wash your hands before you eat; yes, it can be that simple. Do not eat sample foods provided in group settings — farmers markets, fairs, retail food stores, etc., as a precautionary measure — do not directly touch handles on restroom doors.

Once this virus jumps to the gay male community it will spread rapidly unless basic precautions are taken. Don’t be dumb about your health. Hepatitis is nothing to fool with. Get vaccinated!!

—Terry Cunningham, health care consultant, via email

A ‘more respectful’ place for memorial needed

[Ref: “Design stage for AIDS Memorial,” Vol. 8, Issue 18, or online at bit.ly/2yocoiU.]

Editor’s note: This letter was received here at Gay San Diego, but was addressed to the mayor, all city councilmembers and the AIDS Memorial Task Force.

The Bankers Hill Community Group (BHCG) has serious concern regarding the chosen site for the San Diego AIDS Memorial in Olive Street Park.

Not only does the AIDS memorial warrant a more respectful and visible location within the San Diego region, but the lack of transparency and public process over the site selection, the shortage of funds available to build a memorial, and the insufficient integration between the park and memorial designs are not the ingredients that will create a worthy park plan or result in a beloved neighborhood park.

Furthermore, the park priorities that emerged from a public workshop put on by the BHCG in July 2016 did not support an AIDS memorial at this location.

The San Diego AIDS Memorial warrants a respectful and visible location within the region. The right location would include restrooms, vehicular and bike parking, and an adequate gathering space for special ceremonies such as the memorial’s dedication. Olive Street Park is tucked into the Bankers Hill neighborhood at a dead end street and is not intended to have restrooms or parking included on the site, nor is neighborhood parking readily available. Additionally, the memorial is proposed to share the programming of this compact park site with a children’s playground.

The lack of transparency and public process in choosing the Olive Street Park location for the memorial is also of significant issue.

San Diego is home to one of the first AIDS hospices within the country (Dr. Brad Truax House), because our city has been so highly impacted by this disease and, as a result of this impact, the decisions about this memorial are of large public interest.

The AIDS Task Force should be subject to the Brown Act and hold open public meetings that are noticed on the city’s website, and the task force should be instructed to involve the public in their decision-making process, such as site selection and memorial design.

Further, as the Port Authority has previously agreed to house the memorial prominently along the waterfront, and other more respectful available locations have also been dismissed, it is important for the AIDS Task Force to make public the reasons why they believe Olive Street Park to be the right location for the San Diego AIDS Memorial.

With approximately $40,000, the AIDS Task Force has not raised enough funds to design and build a San Diego AIDS Memorial. Due to the shortage of funding, this does not appear to be compatible with the Olive Street Park design and construction schedule, which is funded.

Although there are news reports stating that funds for the memorial would come from the sale of the Dr. Brad Truax House, the BHCG understands these proceeds will have to revert to the gas tax fund and cannot be transferred to pay for the memorial. Further, this gas tax fund is taxpayer money, and therefore, not eligible to pay for a private AIDS memorial.

Eliminating this confusion and connecting these dots to explain how this memorial will be financed would give the public confidence in this process and resolve some of the larger transparency issues that are haunting this task force.

Finally, the design for the San Diego AIDS Memorial is currently unknown and so cannot be integrated into the plan or design for Olive Street Park, which will have a third and final public meeting in October.

The San Diego AIDS Memorial deserves to have a park or space specifically designed for this use. If located in Olive Street Park, the program and design of the park will be completed before the memorial is designed. These may or may not be compatible with each other.

And since the compact nature and programming of this park is not going to support a sizable memorial, a contextual memorial at this site is likely one that is substantially subdued and/or smaller in scale, but this would not pay nearly enough respect to the many we have lost to AIDS.

Additionally, at the July 2016 meeting of the BHCG, a public workshop was held to specifically discuss priorities for Olive Street Park and a letter was submitted to Councilmember Gloria explaining those who will likely use the park most do not support locating a regional AIDS memorial here.

With approximately 50 people in attendance, including members of the family who donated this land long ago, the priorities that emerged were to pay tribute to the family and house that was once located here, provide access to Maple Canyon, and to develop a landscape that is for passive park uses, which would not include a children’s playground.

The BHCG strongly encourages the mayor, council members, and task force members to visit the Olive Street Park site to better understand and support these concerns about this location for a San Diego regional AIDS memorial.

The BHCG fully supports an AIDS memorial in San Diego that follows a transparent and open public process, but for the abundant reasons listed, we know Olive Street Park is not an appropriate location. Further, we request the AIDS Task Force make public their reasons for choosing the Olive Street Park site over the multiple other more respectful and available locations within San Diego.

—Amie Hayes, president, Bankers Hill Community Group

Support for RISE

[Ref: “When we RISE,” Vol. 8, Issue 19, or online at bit.ly/2fnbRpQ.]

So glad to see coverage of RISE in Gay San Diego! It’s such an important organization, and I’ve learned so many attending many of their breakfast discussions over the last couple years. Looking forward to the luncheon on Oct. 9!

Monogamous or open marriage

[Ref: “Gay marriage: Monogamous or open? Part 1,” Vol. 8, Issue 12, or online bit.ly/2tKpzIv and “More with Kimmel, Part 2, ” Vol. 8, Issue 13, or online at bit.ly/2uocRzE.]

I’ve been looking everywhere for literature for gay married couples. Great insights – I can’t wait to give the book a read and share this with my clients!

—Jan Alfred Valdes, via gay-sd.com

Hillcrest’s ‘Clean & Safe’

[Ref: “Hillcrest gets aggressive,” Vol. 8, Issue 19, or online at bit.ly/2fMRCTm.]

Thanks for this update. I am looking forward to these walkabouts!

—Sue, via gay-sd.com

I can’t believe that anyone has to go walking about to see what everyone has been complaining about for weeks/months now. Systems should already be in place to keep these areas clean. It doesn’t take a “rocket scientist” to figure out what needs to be done in Hillcrest’s usual places.

If you have to go walking about, maybe you don’t spend any time in Hillcrest, or do not live here. If you have to go walking about, then maybe the HBA is not doing their job in keeping Hillcrest “Clean & Safe” … especially for the money these business owners might be paying. Real leadership would just take care of what needs taking care of instead of making it a big dog and pony show. Just shut up and get it done.

—Gregory May, via gay-sd.com

The stretch of Washington Street between First and Third avenues on the north side (7-11 to Panda Express) is very dirty, including trash and excrement.

Also, I hope they can extend their monthly surveys to cover First and Third avenues one block north, to Lewis Street. Third Avenue between Washington and Lewis streets is a huge “rest area” for those living on the streets.

Thank you, HBA, for focusing on this issue!

—Karen Fort, via gay-sd.com

Washington Street around the hospitals and medical offices down, seems to be neglected almost forgotten. Trash from the Jack in the Box litters Front Street. Third Avenue and Washington Street around the CVS is scary and filthy.

—John Williamson, via gay-sd.com

You state in your article the HBA’s goal is to keep Hillcrest “Clean and Safe.” Have you not walked the sidewalks of Hillcrest in the past few months? I have never lived in a city where the sidewalks are covered with filth … grease from restaurants and other contaminants.

Why doesn’t he HBA contract to have the sidewalks power washed at least once a month? Filth invites more filth.

If they were really serious about making Hillcrest great again they would do the simple things rather than just being an organization that collects money from the businesses with little to show for it. Get going and start power washing the sidewalks.

—Frank Kary, via gay-sd.com

Thank you to the HBA for continuing to work hard to improve the neighborhood with creative solutions to difficult problems, many of which we have little control over. I’m also looking forward to attending some of the upcoming Walkabouts!

—Benny, vice chair, Hillcrest Town Council

—Letters to the editor can be sent to morgan@sdcnn.com. Comments can also be made on our website or Facebook page.

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