—Bonnie Donovan and Natasha Todorovic
Milpas Street is up for grabs, and there’s a tousle for its future? Using concepts like “road dieting,” “bike boulevards,” “disincentivizing car ownership,” and tree and sidewalk removal, things could go haywire. What’s happening? The Eastside is a target, and its residents must actively work to protect it. Over numerous meetings and hours of discussion, residents worked with the city to gain ground and remove the priority housing overlay slated for Milpas. Residents showed up, stood up and spoke up, gaining support to protect their neighborhood. Often small wins come with attempts to undermine them. This week, Rob Fredericks, executive director of the Housing Authority, tried to pull an end run around residents by throwing in a special meeting to reinstate the high-density overlay they fought against. Getting wind of the meeting at the last minute, residents attended and voiced their concerns. Mr. Fredericks’ eye rolling made his querulous position obvious (no surprise to learn he’s scurrying his agenda to the Planning Commission on Oct. 10, where he’ll get more support.) The generous, benevolent Housing Authority commissioners, led by the classy Pat Wheatley, conducted a professional meeting and with empathy listened to the people. Dan Rowell suggested affordable units be increased, aka “inclusionary housing.” This heartening evidence shows that citizen voices count. Put Oct. 1 at 6-7:30 p.m. at the Franklin Center in your calendar. Located at 1136 E. Montecito St., a “Listening Workshop” will take residents’ desires/visions into account. Ninety minutes of your time can make a big difference. It impacts you if you live or work or drive in the area or frequent establishments on Milpas.