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New Balboa Park Centennial Plans To Be Issued Friday

Former San Diego Mayor Sanders On Upcoming Mexico Trip, Linkage Fee, Balboa Park Celebration

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.