San Diego Loses A Treasured Civic Activist
A tribute to Clare B. Crane.
When I was first becoming active in urban planning and civic affairs, Dr. Clare B. Crane was one of my mentors and heroes. Clare, a nationally recognized historian, and her husband Loch were civic activists, committed to responsible planning and development for our region’s future.
Dr. Crane died on June 17, soon after her latest book, “Citizens Coordinate and the Battle for City Planning in San Diego” was published by the San Diego History Center.
After moving to San Diego after World War II, Clare and Loch helped the initial founders, Lloyd Ruocco and Esther Scott, create Citizens Coordinate for Century 3, also known as C3. They have been striving for “a handsome and functional community” through research, education and coordinated citizen action since 1961.
Clare earned her Ph.D in history from the University of California San Diego in 1971. She taught history at several of the region’s major universities and colleges during her 85 years.
Clare consistently opposed any new proposed projects that would privatize or diminish Balboa Park, which she felt must be preserved as a public park for all San Diegans. Crane often spoke before the San Diego City Council and other government groups on the need for park preservation, historic preservation and rational urban planning principles.
Dr. Crane served on the boards of a wide range of civic organizations, including the YWCA, Save Our Heritage Organisation, C3 and several others over the years. Her La Jolla home was a center for community discussions on long-term urban planning, historic preservation and fundraising ideas for new parks. And, among all her other activities, Clare was the first curator and education director for the Villa Montezuma.
Dr. Crane had one last, great accomplishment. Her final book, “Citizens Coordinate and the Battle For City Planning in San Diego,” was recently published and is available from C3. Copies of the new book can be obtained by visiting the C3 website, or by contacting C3 at email@example.com.
In the book she describes a time when the majority of the San Diego City Council was ready to give up their urban planning and zoning powers to an un-elected City Planning Commission. She answers frequent questions about why the San Diego City Hall moved from the waterfront to C Street and why today La Jolla remains a human-scale community, instead of being paved over with high-rise condos and apartments.
The new book also includes profiles of the key local leaders who gave birth and nurtured C3 during its first decades; including Lloyd and Elsa Ruocco, Ellen and Roger Revelle, Hamilton Marston, Esther Scott and Dorthea Edminston, Robert Mosher and Roy Drew, Diane Barlow and dozens of other activists who joined with others to advocate for enlightened city planning to create a city truly worth living in.
She will be missed.
In addition to his other affiliations, Don Wood is a member of the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition, an alliance of local civic organizations dedicated to preserving and enhancing public access to downtown San Diego’s waterfront.