Balboa Park attracts millions of visitors each year. But behind the scenes the city is having trouble paying for some badly needed repairs.
It is estimated the park needs about $300 million for infrastructure and maintenance costs. Right now, the city doesn’t have a long-term plan to make all those fixes or the cash to pay for them.
Two top candidates competing for the City Council district that includes Balboa Park, Chris Ward and Anthony Bernal, said they’d like to find dedicated money for Balboa Park.
In this week’s San Diego Explained, VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt and NBC 7’s Monica Dean dig into Balboa Park’s infrastructure and financial troubles and some proposed solutions.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
A steady stream of funding could easily come from the cash rich non profit San Diego Zoo Global. They make a ton of money managing the Zoo and Safari Park while paying a pittance in rent. Raise their rent to pay for the maintenance of Balboa Park.
"In comparison, Mission Bay Park gets a steady stream of funding that’ll allow for tens of millions in repairs over the next decade". Mayor Maureen O'Connor and the city council did the same thing for Balboa Park back when it adopted the 1989 Balboa Park Master Plan update. At the same meeting, the council voted to increase the city's TOT tax by one cent, exclusively to implement the updated master plan and maintain the park. That arrangement held until Mayor Susan Golding diverted some of that money to help pay for the city hosting the GOP national convention and an expansion of Jack Murphy Stadium. Since then the mayor and council have continued diverting that money for other purposes. If the citizens want an assured funding source for Balboa Park, it will have to do what Donna Frye and Councilman Kevin Falcouner did earlier and put it in an initiative ballot measure for city voters to adopt. Then the money can't be used for other purposes. Don't hold your breath waiting for Todd Gloria's replacement and the mayor to do anything like that. It will probably take a new citizen's initiative to divert that one cent of TOT money back to Balboa Park.