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As 2015 approaches, the question looms of how the Balboa Park celebration will take shape . Will Carless looked at four big unanswered questions surrounding the particulars of cost and parking. Carolyn Chase of San Diego EarthWorks weighed in with another 2015-related question:
One other question a few thousand folks would also like answered: Will Earth Day be allowed to have its 25th anniversary in 2015? While acknowledging the legacy of the Panama 1915 expo, Earth Day’s anniversary is arguably as important to the public use of the free public spaces of this public park.
The agreement between Balboa Park Centennial, Inc. states that they will use its “best efforts to incorporate traditional events.” So far I can sum up those efforts as a verbal promise by Ben Clay the day the agreement was passed by the City Council; an in-person meeting to confirm, but in 2013 unreturned phones calls and text messages. It is not too soon for those able to produce large special events to have their reservation date reserved. Park & Rec used to want to know two years in advance when a large special event was going to want a permit. This changed as political efforts to limit events in the Central Mesa took hold.
As for the parking, there is quite a lot of capacity for the kinds of events that we can know will happen: those being held by the building lessees/museums and other groups. These special events will fit into existing park parking for the most part. For any bigger events that emerge, the city currently requires off-site parking at Petco Park in addition to significant capacity at City College. I have the exact figures and they are also available in the Master Plan and the recent EIR disclosures for the controversial Jacobs’ proposal.
Earth Day has consistently been the largest special event in Balboa Park; we know how to get a capacity crowd in and out with minimum impacts. But getting such a crowd to go there to begin with — well, that’s really, in the end, the bigger problem for organizers. And it’s not just about the money either, which is partly why this effort is stumbling. Success requires the integrity — and diversity — of a vision that people want to be a part of. The changing themes are a reflection of the lack of moving from an idea (anniversary celebrations) to something thousands want to be a part of and feel a part of – whether a sponsor or a volunteer.
San Diego EarthWorks knows how to fill the heart of Balboa Park — we would like to see 2015 organizers fill their hearts with the kind of spirit required to be inclusive of all uses in the Park — and of course to fulfill on their stated legal requirements: to confirm our reservation for Earth Day’s 25th anniversary in 2015 in the heart of Balboa Park for either April 19 or April 26.
Chase’s comment has been lightly edited for style, grammar and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.