San Diego City Council Monday approved a November ballot proposition that would keep more of Mission Bay Park’s lease revenues in the park.
But the 5-3 margin showed that the measure’s sponsors — Councilman Kevin Faulconer and Councilwoman Donna Frye — were not able to iron out all the issues that have dogged it since they unveiled it weeks ago.
The measure will ask voters to approve an amendment to the city charter requiring that millions more in lease revenues generated by the park go toward capital projects in Mission Bay and other parks rather than to the city’s general fund.
But it also includes a list of priority projects that some park activists say is too rigid, and does not include projects that have long been part of the Mission Bay Master Plan. Others say it doesn’t adequately take into account the cost of the priority projects.
The projects include: dredging of Mission Bay; wetland expansion and other water quality measures, as well as the restoration of the Mission Beach boardwalk.
Frye and Faulconer said Tuesday that City Council gave residents a chance to remove an inequitable funding scheme that has upset park lovers for a generation.
“Anytime you are talking about a significant change you will get some (people) for it and some against,” Faulconer said. “[But] this has the opportunity to be one of the most lasting policy improvements for Mission Bay in decades.”
Frye said getting such a measure on the ballot is “something that no one has been able to accomplish in 30 years.”
But Council President Scott Peters, who voted against it along with councilmen Ben Hueso and Jim Madaffer, said it is not prudent to write into the charter specific projects that don’t have specific costs attached to them.
“It is a serious step to be placing this measure and these requirements in the charter,” said Peters spokeswoman Pam Hardy. “You want to do it the right way.”
Madaffer simply called it “ballot-box budgeting,” something he is against.
Bill Evans, the operations director of Evans Hotels, which holds some of the largest leases in the park, came to the meeting and argued a similar point. He also echoed others who have said the proposal was a rush job by Faulconer and Frye that lacked enough public input.
“We think it is a wonderful goal to keep more of the lease revenues in the park, and we share it,” Evans said. “But we worry that it was done in such haste that there may be some holes in it.”