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North Park Group Inflates Neighborhood Opposition To Bike Lanes, Review Shows

Attorney Craig Sherman stands with Pat Sexton of

Photo by Andi Dukleth

Above: Attorney Craig Sherman stands with Pat Sexton of "Save 30th Street Parking" during a press conference, Aug. 13, 2019.

A group of San Diego residents and business owners suing to block a bike lane project in North Park have inflated the neighborhood's opposition to the project, according to documents the group submitted to Mayor Kevin Faulconer's office.

The planned bike lanes on 30th Street are part of a larger strategy to implement the city's Climate Action Plan by encouraging more people to commute without a car. The climate plan requires the city to halve its greenhouse gas emissions, most of which come from transportation, by 2035.

The North Park group opposing the bike lanes, which calls itself Save 30th Street Parking, has repeatedly dismissed bike lane proponents as a "special interest," suggesting those who show up to public meetings and rallies to support the project do not represent their neighborhood.

"That group of people are from Escondido, Ocean Beach, Linda Vista," the group's leader, Pat Sexton, said in a press conference announcing the lawsuit on Tuesday. "We don't go to their neighborhoods in La Mesa and wherever and try to change their whole neighborhood."

RELATED: Activists Rallying For Protected Bike Lanes In North Park

Yet the documents indicate that many supporters of Save 30th Street Parking come from places thousands of miles from 30th Street.

The group has a petition on Change.org asking the mayor to reverse his decision on the project, which would remove all on-street parking on a 1.7-mile section of 30th Street and replace it with a protected bike lane in each direction.

On May 22, it submitted roughly 1,500 names from the online petition, saying all the names were "in North Park." But KPBS found many signers listed locations outside the city of San Diego, including Escondido, Oceanside and El Cajon. Others came from places as far away as Miami, Iowa City and Honolulu.

The online signatures were released by the city in response to a Public Records Act request submitted by the group's attorney, Craig Sherman. Also included were close to 800 hand-written signatures the group said it had gathered in the neighborhood.

RELATED: City Expands Protected Bike Lane Network Just In Time For Comic-Con

Sexton did not immediately respond to phone calls or text messages seeking comment on the petition signatures. An email to Save 30th Street Parking also went unanswered.

After this story was published, Save 30th Street Parking said in a Facebook post that its mischaracterization of the online signatures was an "honest oversight."

The KPBS review of the signatures the group sent to the mayor's office found that roughly 53% of those who had signed the Change.org petition reported living in the city of San Diego. It was unclear how many of those were North Park residents. Another 7% said they lived somewhere else in San Diego County, while the remaining 40% came from elsewhere in the United States or had no location listed.

When including the hand-written signatures in the total number of names given to the mayor, about 69% were from people who said they live in the city of San Diego.

This story was updated to include the Facebook post from Save 30th Street Parking.

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