Nearly a decade ago, the list of fixes needed at one of San Diego’s most beloved landmarks was overwhelming.
Supporters complained that a park that annually draws millions of tourists wasn’t getting the financial support it deserved. They demanded change with a ballot measure that would secure funds for improvements – and it worked. The cash infusion has allowed the city to begin etching out a 10-year plan to invest tens of millions of dollars into Mission Bay Park.
In recent months, city officials have presented proposals for a nearly $8 million dredging project, about $29 million in wetland restorations and water-quality improvements and more.
That puts Mission Bay on much different footing than another iconic city landmark with its own vast needs. Balboa Park doesn’t have a dedicated funding source to bankroll deferred maintenance and infrastructure needs that could total more than $300 million. There is no long-term plan to address those needs, let alone pay for them.
“It’s something many people involved in the park would like to see but nobody knows how to get there,” said Mike Kelly, president of the Balboa Park Committee of 100.
Balboa Park’s situation means city officials cobble together money for individual projects rather than plan over the long haul. Leaders have high hopes that philanthropists will step in to provide major assistance but fundraising progress has been slow.
Help Us Raise $100k By the End of May
Park would enjoying to be near for the main Unique More tale park Day and love all the fascinations; unfortunate that it is so inflexible to travel that future from Mission Bay Park. http://www.bethycreek.com/texas-rv-park/
I agree that the city should change its budget and reporting system so that all user fees collected by Park and Rec are clearly
reflected in the budget. I also agree that the Zoo should be required to contribute some portion of its annual revenue to Balboa Park upkeep. Or the city could simply discontinue its annual subsidies to the Zoo, which could get along very well without them, and redirect all that money toward Balboa Park maintenance.
As the article points out, the hotel tax has been used in the past to help fund these iconic parks. Now, as Balboa Park has over $300 million in deferred maintenance, the Chargers want to raise the hotel tax - by a LOT - to fund a football stadium downtown. They think that by slapping some sort of convention center annex onto it, they will dress-up the pig and make it seem like it's not as frivolous. It would be really irresponsible to hike up our hotel tax giving our city one of the highest hotel tax rates in the nation to fund a football stadium for a billionaire when Balboa Park is in such dire need of repair
This whole part issue is ridiculous. Why does Torrey Pines golf course have greater priority than Montgomery-Waller Park? Why does the Zoo have automatic funding and Balboa Park gets none? Answer? The City of San Diego has decided that it is not a city for all within its limits. Mission Bay Park has no real greater importance than the rest of the park system. It is the City of San Diego that is the attraction for tourists and its citizens. And, there is another dark secret with the Parks and Recreation Department. That city department keeps all the funds from user fees and it does not account for it in its budget with a defining line item per park. So, where does the Pand K distribute those fees? How does the Pand K distribute those user fees? So, the whole park system, in my view, needs to be revamped completely to one, be transparent and to, two adequately fund all the parks in a sustainable manner. We all enjoy Mission Bay Park, Torrey Pines, Montgomery-Waller, the Zoo, all of Balboa Park, and the rest of the parks in San Diego. So, this piece meal funding to some and not all does not serve the whole of the City, the people of the City of San Diego.
Balboa Park is in Councilperson Todd Gloria's district and as usual he hasn't a clue. Todd Gloria obviously doesn't feel like leading an effort to provide routine maintenance for the park, and is directly responsible for the failed Centennial Celebration, This is typical of Todd's tenure as a councilperson. He is there for the photo op, but unavailable when it comes to the responsibilities of his office or the needs of his constituents.
On another note, why doesn't the Zoo chip in ? They must be making a ton of money utilizing Balboa Park for their menagerie.
I was at the city council meeting in1991 when the mayor and council members adopted a major update of the Balboa Park Master Plan (which still exists) and increased the TOT tax to pay for park improvements detailed in the updated master plan. The mayor and council members promised to use the additional TOT revenues to implement the updated master plan. Unfortunately, succeeding mayors and council members ignored that promise and diverted the additional TOT funds promised for park master plan implementation to other purposes. Even if the voters passed an initiative requiring that those particular TOT revenues be diverted back to park master plan implementation purposed, I don't think the current crop of city politicians can be trusted to do so.
@Don Wood You're correct about the history; however, the issue of greatest importance is addressing deferred maintenance. There are huge needs on the Central Mesa.
It’s important to understand this issue in context. Mission Bay Park was essentially created as a self-funding entity whereby up to 25% of the park would be given to commercial interests (under long-term leases) to pay for the development and upkeep of public areas of the park. Those leases currently include hotels like the Catamaran and Hilton, Sea World, and so forth. That’s where the money for initially dredging the bay came from and it is a very legitimate argument for maintaining the park at the current levels. There have been tensions over the years regarding whether Mission Bay was actually getting the all the money it was generating (it probably doesn’t). Some of the greatest advocates for the park are the businesses that lease land in the park, since the success of their hotels and businesses depend, in part, on the desirability of the park. Mission Bay is a very good public/private partnership in which both benefit immeasurably.
Balboa Park could be operated in a similar fashion if people desired it. For example, some portion of the park could be leased to a hotel or hotels with a proviso that the income therefrom would inure to the park. Some might be horrified by that. Others might think it’s a great idea. That is the Mission Bay model.
Consider, for example, San Diego High School, which occupies a part of Balboa Park. There has been some discussion of late that it should be moved out of the park as was intended many years ago. It could be replaced with a hotel (with public approval), which would have no net impact on park accessibility (since the school is presently taking up parkland), and the income from the hotel could be used exclusively for Balboa Park. The location of the hotel would be walking distance from the Zoo and all of the park.
This is all fine and well, and I support more improvements to our parks, but when it comes to "wetlands," let's not forget that aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits not just the zika virus but a host of other diseases, is now known to breed in brackish water, i.e. some of the areas envisioned in the expansion of Mission Bay Park. Enough with excessive "habitat protection," which usually protects all habitats except humans'; drain, not expand, the swamps where it makes sense to do so.
@Mike German Or a well balanced wetlands could contain fish, which could eat the mosquito larvae.
So much money?
Just for parks?
No wonder we use Oil barrels on OB and PB as trash cans, not much showers, no dressing rooms, ETC
Maybe look for sponsors?
Some of the people who have taken the time to read the Citizens' Plan have asked whether the Suburban TFID could assess itself at a rate high enough to help with Balboa Park's deferred maintenance. The answer is "yes," the hoteliers could make that election to repair any tourist related facility.