Roundtable: Balboa Park Fizzle; City Email Reversal; Affordable Housing Fee; Padres Hopes
Balboa Park Un-Birthday
Having spent an unknown amount of the $2.8 million the city allocated for the year-long celebration of the centennial of the California-Panama Exhibition in Balboa Park — and accomplished pretty much nothing — Balboa Park Celebration, Inc., the nonprofit formed in 2011 to organize the 2015 shindig, shut down this week.
No one knows where the city's money went because the committee has refused thus far to release any records. We do know that It contracted with various consultants, promoters and public relations types, many of them in L.A.
And we also know that some committee members squeezed in a trip to Panama. No word, though, on what Panamanians think of the 100th anniversary of a San Diego exhibition.
The celebration committee also missed deadlines, snubbed community groups that wanted to help and touted non-existent “key partnerships” in funding applications. Some of this disarray may have happened because former Mayor Bob Filner, who wanted to boost the celebration budget from $50 million to $100 million, was himself booted out of office in the middle of all the planning.
But all is not lost. The committee did come up with a logo.
Will City Purge Emails?
Due to the costs of archiving, the city of San Diego announced last month that it would purge all city emails between staff and elected officials and constituent correspondence older than one year on March 28, 2014.
The ruckus caused by this announcement from media and open-government advocates such as local attorney Cory Briggs was immediate.
City staffers put the cost of replacing its current, nearly full email retention system at between $400,000 and $500,000, a sum disputed by technology entrepreneur Ben Katz of Open San Diego, and, in any case, not budgeted for 2015.
The nonprofit Californians Aware (CalAware) says such a purge of public records by the City of San Diego is illegal. San Diego County, however, keeps official emails only 60 days.
On his first day in office, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who ran on an open-government platform, reversed the decision “pending further review.”
Door Shut On Increased Affordable Housing Fee
A fee paid by developers of new commercial buildings — hotels, malls, warehouses — to subsidize housing needed by the low-wage workers who work there is no more, at least for now.
The new fee, an average increase to builders of roughly 500 percent, was passed by the City Council last fall because of the lack of subsidized housing and partly to offset the loss of state redevelopment funds.
The affordable housing fee, called a "linkage fee," was first levied in 1990 at 1.5 percent of construction costs for that year. The city cut the fee in half in 1996 and it has remained at .75 percent of 1990 construction costs since then.
Earlier this year, developers collected enough signatures to put the fee increase on the ballot. This week, the City Council rescinded the higher fee.
Hope Springs Eternal For Padres
San Diegans can be forgiven if they view the coming baseball season with a bit of dread mixed in with their hopes. Last year, after a dismal start, the San Diego Padres had a decent second half, giving fans hope that the team might not be god-awful this year. That remains, of course, to be seen.
How does a small-market team compete in the National League West, home of the big-budget San Francisco Giants ($144 million) and the bigger-budget L.A. Dodgers (231 million)? One strategy that the $82 million-payroll Padres can actually afford is to identify young and productive prospects and tie them down with affordable contracts. Sometimes it works, except perhaps in the cases of Cameron Maybin, Corey Leubke and Nick Hundley.