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It doesn’t appear I’ll get a good answer for you today on the Parking Management Action Plan for Balboa Park. I’m told that the best source on the topic is Kathleen Hasenauer, the acting deputy parks director who oversees Balboa Park, but she hasn’t returned my calls yesterday or today and is booked up in meetings through the afternoon.

Such is life in a deadline-oriented world.

In my last phone message to her, I let her know she can post comments here, so check back to see if she entertained my offer.

In the meantime, you can review the plan here.

Let’s check in on some of your comments today. First, I think Edgar is likely being sarcastic when he writes:

Bulldoze it and build condos. Instead of costing us money, the land would raise revenues for the city coffers. Basic economics 101!

Most seem in favor of preserving the park, whether at the hand of the city or a private operator. Native but Might be Leaving writes:

The City of San Diego has given up on the park long ago. The future intense use, failing infrastructure and low maintenance spells a disaster for this greatest asset in the City. The City must move towards allowing a non-profit entity manage this public park, on the model of Bryant Park and the Central Park Conservancy in NYC. Political leadership must drive this effort, citizens, through a non-profit conservancy can make this the greatest park in the state, however continued management by the City spells a dismal future.

Privatization of the park — on the order of how Old Town’s Plaza del Pasado is managed by the Delaware North Parks and Resorts group — has been discussed before. Some think the park has already been parceled out, to its tenants. Watcher says “different special interests have seen a piece of green open space next to downtown and coveted it for their own project and facilities.” He continues:

These include all the current park tenants like the Zoo, the museums, and commercial operations like the restaurants. Each of these park institutions have wealthy backers who have a lot of clout with City Hall. Each of them worship at the alter of growth, and want to take more public open space to grow their facilities inside the park.

I don’t know how any successful entity avoids growth. Park space is of course limited, so the struggle is to balance every tenant’s wants against the obligation to maintain Balboa Park as a cohesive property that honors its traditions but still has a future. It’s clear that an active and ongoing dialogue is still needed.

JENNIFER McENTEE

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