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New Balboa Park Centennial Plans To Be Issued Friday

Evening Edition

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Council President Todd Gloria said Thursday they will unveil plans the next day for a scaled-down version of a celebration of Balboa Park's centennial next year.

Plans for a yearlong series of events that would draw national and international visitors collapsed after a citizen's group failed to attract enough private investment. Balboa Park Celebration Inc. is in the processing of disbanding amid questions of what the city got in return for its $2.6 million investment.

On Wednesday, the City Council's Environment Committee requested financial and performance audits of BPCI.

At a news briefing that also took place Wednesday, Gloria promised that details on the reformulated celebration were forthcoming.

"You can't lose sight of the fact that our park institutions have been doing incredible work over a long period of time, with the help of the centennial group, to pull together some blockbuster presentations for 2015 -- those efforts continue," Gloria said.

He said a "spectacular" celebration can be stitched together using what the cultural institutions have planned and what they already do anyway -- augmented by events paid for via philanthropy.

The city stepping in should restore confidence in the 100th birthday celebration for the park among prospective corporate partners and other donors, Gloria said.

Jerry Sanders, who was mayor when BPCI was formed, said on the KPBS radio program "Midday Edition" that people who wanted to give money to the celebration were discouraged by the condemnation of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs by opponents of his plan to remove cars from the park's Plaza de Panama.

The Jacobs plan, which included construction of a bypass bridge to carry vehicles away from the plaza, was opposed by a preservationist group that prevailed in court.

In another development, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association called for the BPCI to disband immediately and turn over all documents to the city.

Gerry Braun, who is handling the dissolution of the group, said the process has been underway for a month. He said state law does not allow nonprofits to cease operations immediately.

At Wednesday's committee meeting, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said the city was being particular over which documents it would receive from BPCI, in an effort to avoid having the city assume any liabilities.

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Avatar for user 'mlcred'

mlcred | March 28, 2014 at 9:47 a.m. ― 2 years, 12 months ago

"collapsed after a citizen's group failed"

Calling BPCI a "citizens group" is mis-representation of the highest sort.
This type of shoddy reporting continues on KPBS.

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Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | March 28, 2014 at 12:32 p.m. ― 2 years, 12 months ago

Standard Sander's operating procedure; blame everything on Bob Filner. A state court, not Filner, rejected the Jacob's park bridge proposal as being illegal, not Filner. Didn't hear Sanders make any new commitments on behalf of is organization to support the centennial. The original 1915 exposition grew out of a proposal put forward by the then chamber of commerce president. Those were different times and today's chamber of commerce is a far cry from the 1915 one.

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Avatar for user 'jelula'

jelula | March 28, 2014 at 1:53 p.m. ― 2 years, 12 months ago

The Jacobs project was not opposed by just "a preservation group" but by a very broad cross-section of San Diegans. SOHO was simply the visible representative organization but there is a long list of other organizations and individuals who fought to stop the plan and many individuals who contributed to SOHO's lawsuit that finally succeeded in putting a halt to the juggernaut begun by Jerry Sanders & Irwin Jacobs.

To compare seeking contributions for the 2015 Centennial Celebration to seeking contributions to the Jacobs public works plan is unfair and, I think, not entirely reasonable. There may be a nexus because of the wide-spread ill-feeling engendered by the effort to force acceptance of a massive, Historic District deforming project but I would blame that project & our erstwhile Mayor for any ill-feeling and discouragement of potential donors to other projects that bear no resemblance to that one.

As for BPCI, the fact that many of the same people or their friends were appointed to that board may also have played a role in the reluctance to donate. Certainly, there were many of us who had offered ourselves as volunteers to the Celebration committee - I myself spoke specifically to Ben Clay but never heard a thing back.

Too bad we can't see a replay with the Jacobs Project deleted from what occurred over the past 3 years - the outcome might have been very different though I'm not sure given the direction taken by the BPCI board regarding Celebration activities.

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Avatar for user 'jelula'

jelula | March 28, 2014 at 1:54 p.m. ― 2 years, 12 months ago

I probably should clarify my reference to "erstwhile mayor" = Jerry Sanders.

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