Board Members

President: Christian Chaffee

Christian Chaffee began dealing in fine art and antiques in 1969, working with his father since he was 11 years old. After studying business administration and finance at SDSU, Mr. Chaffee went on to purchase the Adams Ave. Van & Storage moving company in 1985, turning it into the largest independent moving company in San Diego. In 1990, he sold the moving company to start his own antique business, Chaffee Estate Services, which he still runs today.

In 1996, Mr. Chaffee discovered the Class 1 streetcars and purchased them to save them from destruction. At the time, he was unaware of their historical significance, but later discovered that these streetcars were designed by John D. Spreckels' San Diego Electric Railway Company for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. Mr. Chaffee then successfully spearheaded an effort to get the three Class 1 streetcars designated as San Diego Historic Landmarks (#339) in 1997. In November of 2011, he established San Diego Historic Streetcars Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the goal of restoring these historic streetcars to the rail in San Diego.

Vice President: Bill Adams

Bill Adams is a partner in the San Diego law firm of Norton, Moore, & Adams, LLP. His areas of emphasis are: land use law, employment law, hospitality industry law, pension & retirement plan investment law. Mr. Adams is also the founder and chief editor of the online magazine UrbDeZine. He's been involved with land use and urban renewal for the past 20 years, both in a professional context and as a personal passion. He has also served on the board of the Gaslamp Quarter Association, the Food & Beverage Association of San Diego County, the California Restaurant Association (San Diego chapter), Save Our Heritage Organization, the Centre City Redevelopment Project Area Committee, and others.

Secretary: Kristin Harms

Kristin Harms has been very active in the Uptown community for many years, serving most recently as chair of the University Heights Historical Society, a board member of the University Heights Community Development Corporation, and founder of the Neighborhood Historic Preservation Coalition. Ms. Harms also has an extensive background in marketing and communications in the healthcare industry for organizations that include UCSD, the American Lung Association and Mercy Healthcare San Diego.

Treasurer: Ernestine Bonn

Ernie Bonn has been a longtime active San Diegan in the University Heights and Uptown communities. She has been appointed by the Mayor to represent Council District 3 on the city's Parking Advisory Board. Ms. Bonn currently serves as treasurer for the University Heights Community Development Corporation and also sits on the board of Uptown Planners.

Director: Welton Jones

Welton Jones, another longtime active San Diegan, worked at the San Diego Union Tribune for 35 years (1966-2001) as theater critic and critic-at-large. He currently serves on the board of the Committee of 100 and is an emeritus member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA). Mr. Jones is also a captain to the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves and a member of the Texas A&M University Former Journalism Student Association Hall of Honor. He formerly served on the board of directors for the preservation non-profit Save Our Heritage Organization. 

Director: Wally Barber

Wally Barber is president of Walter H. Barber & Son, Inc., a contracting company that specializes in underground, rail rehabilitation, track installation, and track removal. With 50 years of experience in the realm of railroad building, Mr. Barber has worked countless jobs in San Diego over the past decades and was the subcontractor responsible for the installation of all the trolley tracks downtown in 1980. He is also a member of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association and does quite a bit of volunteer work up at the Campo Train Museum.


Advisor: Jim Mills

Nothing short of a legend in California politics, former State Senate Leader Jim Mills was instrumental in bringing the Trolley to San Diego in the early 1980s as then chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Development Board (MTDB). Senator Mills played an important role in the historic designation process for the Class 1 streetcars and has been a close supporter of the project ever since, lending his considerable experience in navigating these types of efforts to our organization.

Advisor: Jim Hecht

Jim Hecht is the West Region Streetcar Director for HDR Engineering, Inc and has spent his 25-year professional career working in the development of light-rail and streetcar projects. Mr. Hecht is currently working as the lead engineer on the Downtown Los Angeles streetcar project. Formerly, Jim Hecht served as Project Manager for the Mission Valley Trolley extension and spent a number of years at the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS). As a San Diego native, he sees great value in restoring streetcar service to our downtown and uptown communities and has offered up his valuable expertise to help further our efforts.

Advisor: Byron Wear

Byron Wear has been committed to public service in San Diego for many years. Byron grew up in Point Loma as the son of a Naval Officer and later served as one of the youngest lifeguard lieutenants. In the 1980’s he chaired the update of the Peninsula Community Plan and served on the Coastal Committee of the Park and Recreation Board. In 1995, Byron Wear was elected to the City Council (District 2) and served two terms until 2002. In 1996, Byron was appointed to the California Coastal Commission. In 1998 and 1999, Byron was Deputy Mayor for the City of San Diego. Byron played a key role in the development of Petco Park and the East Village, the Main Library, Phase II of the Convention Center, the establishment of the North Embarcadero Alliance and the restoration of the Balboa Theater. Byron initiated the update of the San Diego’s General Plan (City of Villages) and led the conversion of the former Naval Training Center into the successful mixed-use community of Liberty Station and the NTC historic district for arts and culture. Additionally Byron Wear chaired the state commission, which worked to consolidate SANDAG and MTS planning functions and recommended the establishment of the San Diego Regional Airport Authority. In 2003, he formed Wear Strategies, a land use, transportation, and strategic planning consultant firm. Byron continues to remain active in many non profit causes and civic collaborations.

Advisor: Jay Turner

Jay Turner is perhaps best known for his work as Executive Director of North Park Main Street and is credited with playing a major role in the redevelopment and considerable revitalization of that neighborhood. Mr. Turner also went on to serve as CEO of the San Diego Business Improvement Council and currently sits on the board of Citizens Coordinate for Century 3 (C3). In 2005, the San Diego City Council unanimously declared September 26th as "Jay Turner Day" to honor Mr. Turner's contributions to our city.

Advisor: Howard Blackson

Howard Blackson is a native San Diegan with over 20 years of professional urban design experience and a Masters in Urban Design from the University of Westminster in London. Having served recently as Director of Planning for Placemakers and as a Board Member for Civic San Diego, Howard is now working with the newly minted Civics Innovations Lab for the City of San Diego. Given Howard’s expertise in drafting Master Plans and form-based zoning codes, as well as his reputation as one of San Diego’s most exciting minds in urban design, he’s surely a natural and welcome fit.


Chief of Staff: Derek Emery

Derek Emery was born and raised in San Diego, CA. In 2008, he graduated from UCSD with a degree in Sociology. Derek began writing music criticism for several online publications as well as his own blog starting in 2007 and has performed as a club and private event DJ. He has been working with the historic Class 1 streetcar project since 2010 and assisted in the establishment of the 501(c)(3) non-profit San Diego Historic Streetcars, Inc. in 2011. Since 2012, Derek has served as Chief of Staff for the project and has helped advance the efforts of the organization as guided by the San Diego Historic Streetcars board of directors. 

Media SpecialistMarilia Maschion

Marilia Maschion was born in Brazil and raised in the United States. Marilia graduated from UCSD with a degree in interdisciplinary art and music. In 2012, she joined our staff as an administrative assistant and has been a valuable asset to the San Diego Historic Streetcars team. As Media Specialist, Marilia now manages all video and photography projects for our organization and provides administrative support to the Chief of Staff and Board of Directors.