Another reader writes:

As residents of downtown San Diego, my husband and I have attended several of the NBC project’s workshops and have been puzzled by the absence of involvement by our Councilmember Kevin Faulconer who supposedly represents the downtown district. Earlier this year, the Navy selected Doug Manchester as their developer, but not until recently did the Councilman request a Council hearing, now scheduled for September 19th.

Hopefully, we have misjudged our new Council representative and it is not too late for him to exercise his leadership role …We believe that he is knowledgeable about the dramatic changes that have occurred since the early 1990’s and will question why a 15-year outdated agreement is being used to justify walling off this premier site. If this project is not halted, it will blot out much of San Diego’s picturesque bayfront from Broadway to Pacific Highway. This public space can and should be a lasting gift to the people of our region.

To quote a 5/26/06 editorial in the Union-Tribune:

Once again, we implore the mayor, City Council and CCDC to scrub the Broadway Complex redevelopment plan altogether and seize an historic opportunity to create a signature public space. To make this vision a reality, all that is needed is leadership.”

Response:

Thanks for your comments. I agree that Councilman Faulconer and the rest of the City Council haven’t taken a highly public profile on this project as things have developed. That may because our “strong” Mayor Jerry Sanders jumped on the bandwagon soon after MFG was selected by the Navy to pursue this project, basically saying in the press that he wasn’t going to take a formal position for or against the project, but expressing his concerns that unless the project goes ahead as proposed, the site might “fall victim” to the BRAC process.

That initial position might have intimidated council members into staying off the record until recently, when Councilman Faulconer began to stand up and ask the right questions about the project. Hopefully council members and their staff will attend all the upcoming public meetings and workshops, and ask more good questions, and eventually make up their own minds about what should happen on our downtown bayfront, instead of letting others take the lead. This is probably the last remaining parcel of downtown’s bayfront that the city of San Diego will have any influence over. It would be a shame if this opportunity is wasted.

At a recent public workshop, a City Council staff representative was asked what downtown residents and the public should do if they don’t like the MFG proposal.

“Push your leaders,” He said. Afterwards several audience members said their leaders shouldn’t have to be “pushed” in order to do the right thing, when public leadership is obviously called for in this instance. The mayor and City Council members are going to have to eventually decide who they work for – the voters of San Diego, or downtown developers.

DON WOOD

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