I wish to register my objection to the so-called Jacobs plan and Michael Hager’s objection to public comment. I have carefully followed the controversy and spoken at public hearings since it began. As a retired public servant with more than thirty years’ experience in land use planning and environmental enforcement, and now as president of a private corporation, I cannot understand why Mayor Jerry Sanders and his friends object to vociferously to alternative public opinions on how our parklands are treated by private developers.
Government has been operating just fine with public comment weighing into all projects involving city of San Diego-owned land or where development permits are to be approved. The more people like Michael Hager whine about public comment, the more I question the judgment of the city officials pressing this obnoxious project. And for what? To remove 243 parking spots from the Plaza de Panama for the 2015 sequel to the 1915 exposition?
Every public hearing that I have attended has experienced a ratio of about 10:1 opposing the project. The supporters are almost entirely employees or contractors to Irwin Jacobs. They all have a conflict of interest. Very few informed members of the public defend the $45 million bridge, road system and parking structure. And what proof is there that Irwin Jacobs will pay for anything more than the engineering, architectural and environmental impact report on the project? Prove to us in writing that Jacobs will shell out $45 million to pay for the project. So far, I have seen nothing in writing proving he will pay for actual construction.
And what about the $500,000 annual maintenance expenses the city of San Diego will assume to keep the parking garage, bridge and road system in operating order? Is Jacobs paying this tab too? Or, as I rather expect, will all parking lots in Balboa Park be placed under contract with Ace parking lots to the tune of $8.00-a-day parking to pay for the maintenance? I do not believe for a minute this is a “gift” that the city of San Diego can afford, especially during a recession.
And finally, what are we going to do when the National Park Service and Keeper of the Register strip away National Historic Landmark Status from the Cabrillo Bridge and Balboa Park? Is Jacobs going to pay for the lost grant money to Caltrans to maintain the park buildings? Who is going to pay for the impact of truck traffic vibrations to the hollow clay tiles in the San Diego Museum of Man buildings if we lost the federal grant money?
Ronald V. May lives in La Jolla.
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