If promises are kept, 2017 could be the year city leaders start etching out plans to address Balboa Park’s many needs and break ground on a controversial project some believe will chip away at a long-running park problem.
Here’s a guide to the public pledges and projects expected to play out in 2017.
New Focus on Needs
Recently released consultant’s assessments of city-owned buildings in Balboa Park concluded would take about $200 million to get park buildings in tip-top shape. City officials have since suggested it would cost $79 million to get those buildings into good condition.
City Councilman Mark Kersey, Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin and city staffers who attended a Dec. 7 infrastructure committee meeting emphasized the consultants’ surprising takeaway that many Balboa Park buildings were in better condition than expected.
But they also zeroed in on what that new estimate didn’t factor in. It doesn’t include the potential for expansions or code upgrades. Nor does it include significant seismic issues that could be crucial to keeping Balboa Park’s iconic buildings intact in the event of an earthquake.
An engineering consultant who’s previously worked with the city on California Tower seismic upgrades told me retrofits for the Museum of Man and the Museum of Art buildings alone could total $5 million to $10 million each.
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In response to comments denigrating Starlight Bowl and the group diligently working toward restoration and operation. Please visit savestarlight.org.
1-The Bowl was commissioned by the Ford Motor Company for the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition. In its early days the Bowl was home to symphony concerts broadcast via radio across the country, and other events. It is as historical as any other structure in Balboa Park which as a whole is designated as historical.
2-Most, if not all, restoration upgrades and operational costs will be born by the company.
3-Times have changed. Planes are quieter. Greatly improved audio and visual capabilities and an expert (Steve Stopper) at the helm will provide a much enhanced result It will not be perfect but closer to that goal.
4-Don’t make the mistake of lumping the ampitheatre with theatrical venues, the bowl has much more potential for a variety of events with an emphasis on community activities, not musical theatre. This will be a totally fresh approach with keen eyes and a great hard working team.
5-Starlight Opera folded due to a complex mix of problems of which the plane noise was a small part. As far as the North Park Theatre, the same is true. Essentially, Lyric Opera was the victim of our financial downturn and never recovered. I might remind you that although operations are different, the theatre is very much alive and thriving.
6-As far as preserving the facades of the Starlight and building a parking garage? That’s just silly and would cost the City a great deal more that the current plan.
7- This is a well thought out endeavor to enliven a moribund space with the appreciated input and cooperation of City staff.
@Steve Karo Steve, Here's a proposition for you. Let's you and I stand in the Starlight Bowl about 7 PM, look at the stage and imagine a musical or even a straight dialogue performance. Then you turn to me and explain how much quieter the aircraft in the landing path have become.
What's that you said.....
I did just that, 5 shows a week for 20 years and to sold out or near sold out crowds Lots of good people involved in this project with more knowledge and experience than either of us, plus hundreds of volunteers. Obviously, you are not an enthusiast, but I respect your opinion. Let’s leave it at that.
I would like to see a dedicated foundation created to steward Balboa Park. Such a foundation would raise funds that would be dedicated to the park, administer the master plan, possibly hold the deed to the land and create a legal umbrella for the operation and preservation of the park. Other cites and parks have such a foundation, which as far as I can tell, has served them well. Such an organization would smooth out the swings in funding and attention that the park receives because it is just one more line item in the city budget. It would also be more likely to attract charitable giving than trusting the city to direct money to the park.
We have a real jewel in Balboa Park and it is time we set structure/organization in place for its perpetual care.
The only way to make the Starlight Bowl work would be to reroute all the airliners landing at Lindbergh Field. It ain't gonna happen in our lifetimes. The city should identify alternatives uses for the site that wouldn't be affected by the fact that the site is directly below the Lindbergh Landing path. As for the Jacob's proposal, the city shouldn't issue bonds or take any other actions to support the project until it has the promised $30 million in private contributions in the bank. Talk is cheap.
Renovation of the Starlight Theatre should not be on the infrastructure priority list because: 1) It is not an historic structure; 2) It has no architectural merit; 3) Watching a musical while being buzzed by 747s is not pleasurable; and 4) Its revival is not economic (Remember the renovation of the North Park Theatre?).
As far as the renovation of significant Balboa Park structures - we need to define the priorities and fund sources. As with our decaying streets and our huge homeless problem, there are not enough funds available to do the job. Will the Mayor and/or the City Council have the guts to propose a bond measure?
The City seems to have an abundance of performing arts faculties. Why not preserve the facades of the Starlight, build a parking garage there, and remove the surface parking from the Pan American Plaza?
The parking in the Pan American Plaza is far more intrusive into the park than the Organ Pavilion Parking lot.
Airliners are becoming quieter all the time. The options presented by Bill Bradshaw may not apply. How about some authoritative comment by the FAA or airport officials on expected noise levels?
I don't get the plan for Starlight Theater. Seems to me there are three options, (1) operate between 11 PM and 6 AM, (2) make it a domed facility, and (3) change the flight path into Lindbergh Field. If there's a fourth, please tell me. If the idea is simply to clean it up and reopen, someone is going to lose a lot of money, hopefully not the taxpayers.
@Bill Bradshaw Agree! The effort to save the Starlight Theater is mostly about nostalgia -- and ironically, much of the nostalgia stems from what a hilariously bad experience it is to watch a show in an open-air theater under a busy flight path. San Diego has so much great theater, I don't see how the Starlight can compete. I think it's a case of people wanting the option/not wanting to see something they loved as a kid disappear, but not really wanting to actually pay to see a show there.
@Bill Bradshaw Starlight Theater - maybe a "domed facility" near an airport - Schools around Heathrow Airport have built "super adobe" huts (first used for war refugees) on the the school grounds so kids can go "outside" and play. The super adobe structures attenuate up to 17dB of the otherwise painfully loud aircraft noise.