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The YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County has rapidly ascended to political influence in San Diego but faced an awkward moment last week.
The club considered endorsements for the two major San Diego County supervisor elections – District 1 and District 3. Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos got the nod for D1. But Escondido City Councilwoman Olga Diaz was not able to make it to the meeting, she had a meeting of her own for the Escondido City Council to attend.
And it just so happened she was considering two projects that night on the City Council, both the type of projects the YIMBYs are so interested in. One, the Aspire project, proposed putting 131 apartments in a mid-sized tower in downtown Escondido on a plot of city land that, legend has it, was purchased by local businesses that wanted a parking lot for people who came to shop.
The other was a 32-unit project near the Sprinter station at Quince Street between Grand Avenue and Second Avenue.
Diaz joined two other Council members to kill the Aspire project and joined the majority to approve the 32-unit project.
But the YIMBYs felt burned. Ginger Hitzke, an affordable housing developer based in San Marcos, was especially distraught. She had served as a proxy for Diaz at the meeting and secured the endorsement and then found out about the decision to reject the Aspire project.
She tweeted that Diaz’s reasons for rejecting the project were straight-up NIMBY reasons.
“And I stood in as her surrogate requesting their endorsement of her. Imagine how I feel right now after being used like that because she knew how and why she was going to vote the way she did,” Hitzke wrote.
We reached Diaz, who said she apologized to Hitzke and felt terrible that Hitzke felt that way. She said she voted against the project because it was a piece of city-owned land that had not been put out for bids and proposals to the public. The developer, she said, was seeking too many fee waivers, had not got the community to buy in and had not even met with her to discuss her concerns until that day.
“What is YIMBY, though?” she said. “Is it a yes on everything? I’m a yes on a lot of things. In my mind I was doing my job. I supported one project and I opposed another.”
Maya Rosas, the president of YIMBY Democrats, saw a bright side.
“The fact that Olga Diaz is getting significant pushback is a sign of the growing political support in San Diego for more homes,” she said in a statement.
Rosas said the club would hold their endorsed candidates accountable and Diaz still has the endorsement.