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Quality of Life

San Diego mayor convenes citizens' advisory group for Civic Core redevelopment

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria is seeking community input on how to best redevelop the six blocks of city-owned land around the Civic Center Plaza downtown.

To get it, nearly two dozen community and civic leaders were recruited to Gloria’s newly formed Civic Center Revitalization Committee.

“We are looking at a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a huge difference in our city’s downtown," Gloria told committee members during their first virtual meeting on Monday. "I think many of you have long been involved in public affairs and you recognized that we have waited far too long for this day.”

The committee members include Port Commissioner and former City Council Member Michael Zucchet, former Council President Tony Young, University of San Diego economics professor Alan Gin, and San Diego Chamber of Commerce Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jaymie Bradford, who chairs the committee and who worked alongside former Mayor Jerry Sanders on a plan to rebuild the City Hall complex in 2009. Committee members have signed an agreement that neither they nor their family members will partake in the bidding process for the future development rights of the Civic Core.

Gloria said the last time the city attempted to redevelop the Civic Core was 15 years ago.

The city has yet to announce which locations will be up for redevelopment. Possible sites include the entire City Hall complex, including the Civic Theatre and Parkade. Also on the table are the 101 Ash Street building as well as the City Operations Building, Police Headquarters and the city's Housing Navigation Center.

While the committee has a blank slate, San Diego Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone said their recommendations must include a new City Hall and follow the state’s Surplus Land Act.

“The (city) may add other development conditions, but those are limited,” he said.

The Surplus Land Act stipulates how cities can offload excess land with a priority on building affordable housing.

“The act requires that at minimum 25% of the proposed housing must be at affordable — 80% AMI (Area Median Income) or better, “ Goldstone said. Currently, the AMI for San Diego is $106,900.

The city does not want to repeat its experience with the Midway district redevelopment, where it was criticized for focusing too much on affordable housing and not having enough public input.

The committee will meet every two weeks until the end of the year. It is expected that developers will include the committee’s recommendations in their proposals when properties are up for bid.

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