Monday, June 9, 2008 | Peter Q. Davis writes a thoughtful commentary on the future of the Centre City Development Corp. from an insider’s perspective.

As he states, CCDC was created in 1975 with the mission of revitalizing a blighted downtown for the public good. There is no doubt that the agency in the first two decades of its existence followed its mission and began the transformation of downtown into what we have today. However, more recently, construction of the baseball stadium and the expansion of the convention center have come at a heavy price for the public and older neighborhoods in San Diego. Developers have continued to be subsidized by CCDC and affordable housing—real affordable housing—has not been a priority of CCDC as it continues to accept inadequate “in lieu” fees so that developers don’t have to house working families in their buildings and cheapen their upscale projects.

The CCDC of today has forgotten its mission to serve the public interest. It focuses too much on high-rise buildings, instead of creating a walkable city with alluring public spaces. Funding parks has come as an afterthought.

I disagree with Davis’ analysis in several important respects: Having CCDC headed by private-sector businesspeople is part of the problem not the solution. It encourages cronyism and an insensitivity to the needs of working people. I also disagree that appointing an out-of-town president is inherently bad; in fact, San Diego needs new blood. I do believe the choice of a president who has been a developer all her life was a major mistake made by a previous CCDC Board consisting of “private sector business people”.

Davis also fails to distinguish between abolishing CCDC and phasing out the two downtown redevelopment areas; these are two separate issues. However, since it is proposed to restructure the Redevelopment Agency this is an appropriate time to consider the futures of CCDC and its smaller sister corporation SEDC and the role of redevelopment in San Diego.

More detailed discussion of CCDC can be found in the Grand Jury Report and in a complaint against CCDC to the Grand Jury by the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition.

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