By SDCNN Staff
Imagine San Diego’s regional parks being preserved and enhanced for generations to come. That’s the goal of an ambitious plan Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Thursday.
One part of the plan includes the revival of a controversial Balboa Park project that proposes to transform Plaza de Panama into San Diego’s premier public space and construct a three-level underground garage behind the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Opponents sued to stop the project, but lost in a lower court; and the California Supreme Court upheld the lower court ruling upon appeal.
The Balboa Park project includes the creation of more than six acres of parkland, gardens and pedestrian-friendly plazas; major aesthetic improvements, including reflecting pools, in the plaza; and increased parking. The project would be financed through a combination of parking revenue, city funds earmarked for capital projects and private philanthropy.
The second part of the plan would provide a windfall of money for Mission Bay Park and regional parks. To achieve this, voters would need to approve a proposed initiative that would extend for an additional 30 years 2008’s Proposition C — co-authored by then-Councilmember Faulconer to direct a portion of Mission Bay lease revenue toward capital investment in Mission Bay Park and regional parks. This will result in hundreds of millions more in future dollars available for Mission Bay Park and regional parks, including rehabilitating historic structures in Balboa Park. It also expedites high-priority infrastructure projects for Mission Bay Park.
The proposed initiative will soon go before the City Council for consideration to be placed on the November ballot. It would need a simple majority of voters for approval.
“Just as our forbearers who created Mission Bay Park and Balboa Park did before us, it’s now our opportunity to leave our generation’s mark on San Diego’s park space and historic treasures,” Mayor Faulconer said. “Our regional parks are among San Diego’s most valuable assets. We’re taking two major steps that will lead to an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in Mission Bay Park, Balboa Park and other regional parks to ensure they are preserved and enhanced for future generations to enjoy.”
Mayor Faulconer was joined for the announcement by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, Councilmembers Mark Kersey and Lorie Zapf, Councilmember-elect Chris Ward, former Mayor and San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders, Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, and members from the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, Balboa Park Conservancy, Friends of Balboa Park, and Balboa Park and Mission Bay Park Committees.
“Balboa Park is a jewel in the crown of San Diego’s parks and historical landmarks and these plans will provide for the funding to address the deferred maintenance and infrastructure issues that will ensure the park’s legacy continues for generations,” Sanders said.