At the October 20 meeting of Greater Golden Hill’s Maintenance Assessment District (MAD), the board members sitting at the U-shaped set of banquet tables outnumbered the audience eight to three. The poor turnout contrasted with past meetings, when the room was packed with concerned and — at times — irate residents. Sometimes, infighting among committee members brought meetings to a halt.

To make matters worse, the three people in the audience included MAD’s new project manager, Alex Ibarra, and a representative from Urban Corps, which has a contract with Greater Golden Hill, and this reporter.

Even the turnout for the committee was poor: board members Bill Hilsdorf, Lisa Vella, Chris Blatt, and Norm Starr all had given notice that they would not be showing up. Outspoken board member and ardent Robert’s Rules adherent Ben Nicholls was a no-call/no-show.

For much of the meeting, the committee thought up ways to regain the community’s interest.

After praising the representative from Urban Corps for the weekly report on services provided, the committee brainstormed on ways to get more feedback from the community and opinions on the work rendered by Urban Corps — the non-profit receives $262,000 annually from property taxes.

“I would like to get actually more people than the oversight committee commenting on Urban Corps work,” said chair David Skillman.

“I think we could have some advertised meetings. Clearly we do not have many people from the public here tonight, and we need to have something that brings more public to our meetings,” responded Barbara Houlton.

When the oversight committee realized that they were in fact the representatives for the entire community and were responsible for assessing and overseeing contracts, they began to ask questions in regards to possible overlapping services rendered by Urban Corps and the City of San Diego.

Take, for instance, the $45,000 that is allotted annually for tree trimming. The committee started discussing how some of those trees — such as the ones on city-owned property — should still fall under the responsibility of the city and not the Greater Golden Hill MAD.

The committee then asked project manager Ibarra to research the past five years of city services to ascertain how many responsibilities overlap and are currently a part of the Urban Corps contract and included in requests for proposals by the Greater Golden Hill CDC.

For more information on the oversight committee go to ghcgs.org

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Community residents have been to MAD Oversight Committee meetings many times, but nothing changes. They have asked "where is the money going?" Not many answers. Right now it is going to the Urban Corps. More will follow, as the CDC has a million dollars of property owner money to spend before June 30, 2009. Thank you for keeping an eye on things and keeping the public informed.

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