As former chair of the Southeastern Economic Development Corporation Board, I can fill in some information missing from Voice of San Diego’s Oct. 31 story, “How Civic San Diego Plans to Respond to Its Identity Crisis.”

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Most major cities – including Philadelphia, Austin and Cincinnati – have separate corporations or agencies like Civic San Diego, empowered with tools and funding for neighborhood revitalization and economic development.

Civic San Diego was directed by our mayor and City Council to:

1) wind down the affairs and obligations of the former redevelopment agency;

2) seek new public/private investment, implement economic development and quality job-creation programs, and continue revitalization efforts in long-neglected neighborhoods;

3) identify and secure innovative funding to replace the local revenue lost by the State Redevelopment Dissolution Act.

For more than 20 years, Civic San Diego has performed certain planning and permitting functions for the city. The transparent and cost-effective process includes a rigorous design review and multiple public hearings. Unique to downtown, it has been highly successful in attracting private and public investment to places once considered undesirable and risky.

Civic San Diego’s ability to secure funding and negotiate public-private partnerships creates a “one-stop shop” that is working well today. Its multidisciplinary staff, private-sector expertise and close ties to neighborhoods ensure that new projects meet or exceed the goals of the adopted community plans and serve the public interest. All activities are open and public pursuant to the Brown Act, Public Records Act, and all government ethics law.

No other local entity has the track record to compete as well nationally for New Market Tax credits. With a public/private investment fund for local job creation, affordable housing and healthy communities, Civic San Diego can achieve quality new development and services in two additional targeted locations where neighborhoods need and want them. The Village at Market Street and Euclid Avenue, and Mid-City Bus Rapid Transit corridor are the proposed focus areas.

Instead of losing jobs, this will create jobs for city plan checkers, building inspectors, public facilities financing analysts, parks workers and public works staff. New construction will yield jobs and services, as well as sales and property taxes that pay for police, firefighters and infrastructure projects.

Civic San Diego’s “identity crisis” is not a crisis at all. It is an opportunity for the city to leverage the strengths of its public economic development corporation with those of its government departments.

Civic San Diego augments city functions. Instead of the city and Civic San Diego being in competition, the relationship between them is one of collaboration, teamwork and accountability to our elected officials. This is the vision for Civic San Diego. Its identity is clear.

Daniel Cruz Gonzalez is former chair of the Southeastern Economic Development Corporation Board, and current chair of the New Market Tax Credit Advisory Committee. Gonzalez’s commentary has been edited for clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here. Want to respond? Submit a commentary.

Catherine Green

Catherine Green was formerly the deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handled daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects.

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