This post originally appeared in the April 25 Morning Report.
The City Council voted 8-1 Monday to proceed with a plan to redevelop six blocks in the city’s downtown core as part of a Civic Center revitalization effort and later, to back Mayor Todd Gloria’s push to explore converting the old Central Library and the former skydiving center turned city homeless service hub into affordable housing or shelters.
This means that next month the city will officially invite bidders to propose what they would do with five of the blocks downtown that include the existing City Hall, Civic Center Plaza, the Civic Theatre, Golden Hall and 101 Ash Street. The bidders must be led by affordable housing builders. Over the next month, affordable housing developers will put together partnerships with other builders and designers and interest groups to make their case.
The remaining sixth block, the City Operations Building, which includes downtown’s main fire station, is where the City Council wants to build a new City Hall.
What about the theater? Two weeks ago, workers who serve the Civic Theatre and its operas, comedy shows and other events decried the plan as “alarmingly vague” and it spurred a councilmember to ask the mayor’s designated assistant on this project, Jay Goldstone, if they could require the bidders to rebuild or preserve the venue.
Goldstone asked who was going to pay for it, implying that all the money the city generated from selling or leasing the five blocks would be needed for the new City Hall.
The Council Monday decided to include this language: “The city desires proposals that guarantee the continued employment of all current theater workers.”
The Council added no other major design requirements and it did not ask developers to consider the SANDAG vision to locate a transportation hub in the area.
Any politician, city official, or staffer involved in any way with this should be barred from ever working for any of the bidders. These people have no value to San Diegans and they use public infrastructure projects like this one to endear themselves to the bidders so they can get jobs they aren’t qualified or competent to perform in the future.
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