Balboa Park History 1983
January 3, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-1, B-4. Sheldon Campbell, San Diego Zoo leader, would allay staff fears, by Elizabeth Wong.
Now that Sheldon Campbell has taken office, one of the first things he wants to do is meet with San Diego Zoo employees and allay their fears of more staff cutbacks and layoffs.
As the new president of the Zoological Society of San Diego, Campbell said he wants “to repair the breakdown in communication” that prompted 130 zoo employees to send him a letter attacking layoffs of some part-time workers.
In a petition dated December 8, employees complained about administrative spending and a rumored workday reduction.
Last week, Campbell responded with his own letter, saying layoffs and other dollar-saving measures were needed to help offset a $1 million loss in expected revenue caused by decreases in zoo attendance.
The 64-year-old native San Diegan and retired stock-brokerage executive talked last week about his goals for 1983 Saturday. Campbell took the helm of the zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park from two-term President George Gildred.
“What the employees are feeling is a typical problem of growth,” Campbell said. “We have grown into two big campuses, from 300 or 400 employees to 1,200. The kind of in-touchness of a single manager that we had in the past is no longer possible.”
He said plans for 1983 include computerization, renovation of Dog and Cat Canyon, one of the oldest sections of the zoo; a search for farms to take surplus animals; and strengthening of ties with China.
Campbell said that “one of our premier objectives, one that has been a long time in the making, is to computerize, “to keep better track of animals.”
“One of my personal objectives is to maintain our connection with China,” Campbell said.
He said that “we are the only zoo in the world outside of Japan to maintain a connection” with China.
“Our ultimate hope is to get some giant pandas,” he said.
The best chance, he said, may come in 1985 when Chinese officials review a policy that allows pandas to be sent only to a country’s national zoo.
“We are already formulating plans for improving and renovating Dog and Cat Canyon,” he said, adding that many of the cages there were built in the 1930s and early ‘40s.
Another goal is to find “an angel” to donate money to build one of his pet projects, several exhibits for small nocturnal animals.
“We lack the facilities to exhibit nocturnal animals in a way that people can see them,” he said.
A prosaic but immediate goal, Campbell said, is to install more public toilets at the animal park.
“We also want to begin fund raising for several long-term park projects,” he said.
In November, the society approved preliminary plans for projects at the park to triple the size of the gorilla exhibit, build a barn for the Indian rhinoceroses, make room for the iron-tailed macaque monkeys from India and expand the children’s area.
“It’ll be a busy but fun year,” Campbell said.
He has been a zoo trustee since 1968, spending 50 to 80 hours per month working with the society, in particular the animal collection committee.
Author of several business- and animal-related articles of ZooNooz, San Diego Magazine, Wildlife and American Scientist, Campbell has also co-authored several books, including, “Snakes of the American West,” “Lifeboat to Ararat” and a history of the 64th Fighter Wing from 1942 to 1945.
His zoo interests began at the age of 16 when he worked as an assistant to the reptile keeper. Mainly, his duties including scrubbing the backs of turtles to keep them free of algae.
Instead of a salary, Campbell said he preferred and received a rattlesnake skin.
January 4, 1983, San Diego Tribune, Leisure – 1, 7. Florida Canyon detectives find beauty in protected canyon path, by Nancy Cleeland.
The brown-green walls of Florida Canyon cut through the northeastern edge of Balboa Park, covered by hundreds of different native shrubs and flowers.
Centuries ago, trading Diegueno Indians traveled a well-worn path across the floor of this canyon, about 100 feet deep. A city has grown up around it, but the canyon hasn’t changed much since then. And because a 1,400-acre portion was set aside as a botanical preserve 10 years ago [sic], it is destined to remain one of the few pieces of unspoiled land inside the city limits.
“This is as undisturbed as it can possibly be, considering it’s in the middle of a residential area,” said Annette Winner, at the start of a two-hour walking tour last week.”
“A lot of mammals make this canyon home — cottontails, jack rabbits, ground squirrels, pocket gophers — you can see one of their holes here. Even some gray fox and coyotes. Most of them are nocturnal, so chances are we won’t see any today.”
Winner, an administrative assistant at USSD, speaks with authority on the plants and animals of Florida Canyon. Like 50 other volunteers, she was trained on the subjects in a 12-week course at the nearby Natural History Museum.
Now she and other “canyoneers” lead weekly one-mile tours, free to the public, along the nature trail that passes through two distinct types of vegetation: thick chaparral on the cool, wet, north-facing slopes, sparse low-lying sage scrub on the drier west and south facing slopes.
“A lot of people just think of these plants as weeds,” said Winner. “Everybody looks at the brown, dry hills and thinks they’re just a bunch of dead weeds. Especially people from the East, who may be used to lush greens in spring and dramatic seasonal changes.
“Here the changes are much more subtle, and you have to look a little closer to see them.”
Winner, a self-described “detective,” stoops and stretches and probes to find what’s beyond the obvious. In two hours she described non-stop the daily life and natural history of the canyon, which was named after the road that passes through it — Florida Drive.
She rubbed the leaves of a black sage and invited a visitor to smell the pleasant, sweet aroma. “The Indians used sage to mask odors when they went hunting.”
She picked the seeds of a fennel plant, and offered a few for a taste. But she advised caution when looking for the licorice-flavored seeds, because a plant similar in appearance can be poisonous.
She examined a prickly pear cactus, and as she expected, found a green “leaf-footed bug” underneath one of its leaves. Spines from the cactus were used by Indians to tattoo youths during puberty rites, she said.
In a clump of soil, no more than six inches square, Winner found “an entire community: of lush green club mosses and tiny ferns.
In passing she pointed out gnarly scrub oaks; a thick toyon tree estimated to be 100 years old; a Christmas berry or hollywood tree, which gave the celebrated Los Angeles community its name; miniature machine-gun-like holes were drilled into the tree’s bark by a yellow-bellied sapsucker, cousin of the woodpecker; and a clump of dried stalks called “Everlasting” for its long-lasting flowers that bloom in spring.
Near trail’s end, she stopped at a clearing that has become known as the “bird cafeteria.” Trees surround the clearing — sumac, toyon, lemonade-berry and manzanita — providing seeds and berries for a crowd of noisy birds. Scrubs, jays, hummingbirds, mockingbirds, doves, quails and hawks, all can be seen in or above the canyon.
Winner entered the canyoneers program to put her bachelor’s degree in botany to use. Other canyoneers are working on master’s degrees in the field, but many of the volunteers had no background in science before going through the training.
Alan Marshall, a special education teacher for city schools, has headed the program for the past year. He ensures that a guide will be posted every Sunday afternoon at 2, at the trail head, just west of the Morley Field tennis courts. There, interested people meet for the walk, which normally last about one hour.
Usually about half a dozen walkers take the tour. Only once has there been a no-show, Winner said, “and then we just gathered up people in the parking lot and took them along.”
Group tours can be arranged any Monday, Friday or Saturday by calling the museum. Also, the canyoneers lead frequent “outreach” walks through other canyons in the county, including Penasquitos and San Clemente.
The program was started by Helen Vallejo Chamlee, an assistant curator at the museum until her death last summer. Chamlee took up Florida Canyon as a cause in the early 1970s and lobbied the City Council to declare it a preserve.
She succeeded in 1974 and within a year had trained a few volunteers to lead tours along the nature trail. Chamlee also wrote a guide, with descriptions corresponding to 31 numbered posts on the trail, which is available for 50 cents at the Natural History Museum.
She wrote in her guide, “When you enter the nature trail, you become, for a short while, part of a natural environment.” Largely because of Chamlee’s efforts, the canyon will remain undisturbed for many years.
January 5, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-4. Architecture critic James Britton, died at 67 in his sleep at his downtown home Monday night, January 3, 1983.
January 6, 1983, San Diego Union, B-10. EDITORIAL: Why not a Navy-Marine Corps Museum?
Among the thoughts shared with San Diegans by departing Mayor Pete Wilson was that our city should be the site of a Navy-Marine Corps Museum. This is not the first time San Diego has been prodded in that direction. Indeed, for a city whose history is so entwined with the Navy and the Marines, such a museum is conspicuous by its absence.
There are naval museums in cities with half as much reason to have one. Some are ashore, like the Navy’s museum on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, and some are aboard retired warships, like the recently-opened “Sea-Air-Space” museum aboard the old carrier Intrepid at a pier in New York City.
San Diego once had a minor-league naval museum at the Naval Training Center, but even that has vanished, a victim of budget cuts during the Carter administration. There are a few Macy artifacts amid the non-Navy exhibits aboard the ferry boat Berkeley, at the foot of Broadway, but if that’s the best our city can do, we should be ashamed.
The time to get serious about a Navy-Marine Corps Museum is right now, when planners are making far-reaching decisions about development along the San Diego waterfront, especially development oriented toward visitors. This would be a joint military-civilian project, bring together the Navy and Marine Corps, the city, county and Port District, and organizations like the Navy League, the Maritime Association and others concerned with preserving San Diego’s heritage.
Federal participation might benefit by a nudge from Congress — particularly from the Armed Services Committee and its newest member, Senator Pete Wilson of San Diego.
January 6, 1983, San Diego Union, B-3. New police unit zips over for arrest, by Homer Clance.
Riding over curbs, across patios and parking lots, avoid streets and traffic lights, the San Diego police tactical squad yesterday arrested a burglary suspect in Balboa Park within minutes of a radio call of the crime.
January 6, 1983, San Diego Union, C-1. “Sunshine Skates” on Fifth Avenue, near Balboa Park, opened in 1978, rolls into history, “really good times” recalled, by Barbara Moran.
Jim Hills, owner of Sunshine Skates, blames restrictive city ordinances, the “faddish nature of skating,” the recessing and downtown redevelopment.
January 7, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-3. San Diegans favor Balboa Park as site for 1997 World’s Fair, by Vicki Torres.
Meyers Jacobsen, a San Diego businessman who failed to make Aero World a proposed aviation theme park, a reality in Mira Mesa, says he may have better luck with a world’s fair in San Diego.
Jacobsen and about 30 other San Diegans, members of an exploratory committee, have been busy since February investigating 15 sites for a possible fair here in 1997.
Not surprisingly, their No. 1 choice was Balboa Park.
January 8, 1983, Los Angeles Times, II-1. Public given glimpse of 21st century in Balboa Park, by Scott Harris.
Two drawings show bridges where now there are none. Another depicts a picnic-and-play area reclaimed from a nine-hole golf course. Still another suggests a roadway leading to a parking garage.
Twenty-six schematic drawings in all were unveiled by city officials at a press conference Friday, providing the public with a glimpse into what could be the future of Balboa Park.
The drawings, part of city-commissioned long-range planning efforts that have stirred controversy among cultural leaders and nearby residents, have been put on display at the park’s San Diego Art Institute Gallery, next to a parking lot that is envisioned as a plaza in the scheme.
A suggestion box has been set up nearby. Planner Ron Pekarek and Balboa Park Committee Chairman Robert Arnhym said they want to gauge the public’s reaction and perhaps find better ideas.
“What we have here are composites representing our best ideas at this time,” Pekarek said. The plans are intended to guide park development into the 21st century.
The aim of the planning efforts is ambitious. “We would like to be all things to all people,” Arnhym said.
The plans propose several major changes: construction of a new amphitheater north of the new naval hospital now being built; parking garages that would allow asphalt lots to be reclaimed as plazas, new roads and bridges to improve traffic circulation.
These plans have prompted criticism from directors of museums and theaters along the Prado who say parking and scheduling problems are not properly addressed. Residents of neighborhoods rimming the 1,100-acre park have aired objections to road proposals.
Newly appointed Councilman Uvaldo Martinez, whose district encompasses the park, said he felt much of the criticism stemmed from misinformation.
“The threat of the unknown can be very emotional,” Martinez said.
Arnhym, while hailing Balboa Park as “one of the most beautiful in the world,” said it could be improved in many ways. He said construction of a 4,200-seat amphitheater in what is left of Florida Canyon would help “maximize uses.”
Arnhym, executive vice president of the private arts-support agency COMBO, said the amphitheater would lure first-rate Broadway productions to San Diego. As conceived, it would use the zoo parking lot — now vacant at night — and the existing Starlight Bowl site for parking. It also would move Starlight Opera productions out from under the main Lindbergh Field approach pattern.
Arnhym said he anticipates intense debate over whether that section of Florida Canyon, envisioned for the amphitheater should remain open space.
“I never would have made the proposal if not for the naval hospital encroachment.
Never.” Arnhym said the canyon no longer “feels like the wide, open spaces.”
Pekarek said it will be many months before a master plan is presented to the City Council. Each project would than be subject to public hearings and council approval, he said, and financial obstacles could leave much work undone.
The drawings will remain on display through January 30, but may stay up longer depending on public reaction, Pekarek said.
January 8, 1983, San Diego Tribune, C-1. Public encouraged to get involved in Balboa Park’s expansion plans, by Allison Da Rosa.
The public will have the opportunity this month to review maps, schematic drawings and descriptions of proposed revisions of the Balboa Park master plan. They will be displayed through January 30 in the lobby of the San Diego Art Institute in the park.
Bob Arnhym, who heads the Balboa Park Committee, said that the city wants to adopt a revised plan this summer. He predicted the development — which could include replacing today’s parking lots with lawn, replacing Starlight Bowl with a parking structure and moving the shows to Florida Canyon — will begin within two years.
January 9, 1983, Los Angeles Times, II, 1, 2. “Show biz” tactics rankle staff as strains emerge in San Diego Zoo’s “family,” by Scott Harris.
Perhaps Diablo was engaging in political protest, or maybe he was just dieting. So his hosts, in their displeasure, decided to shove the foot down his throat.
And quite a throat it was. Diablo, a resident of the fledgling San Diego Zoo in the 1920s, was a 23-foot python, so powerful that it took a dozen strong men to subdue him for the seasonal meal. This strange wrestling match always attracted huge crowds. Zoo founder Harry Wegeforth saw Diablo as a source of revenue and began charging a 10-cent admission to watch the feeding.
Charles Bieler, the zoo’s current executive director, was recalling this it of lore. “When they couldn’t meet the payroll,” he said, “they’d put out a press release: “Come out and watch us feed the python.’”
Today, as if taking a cue from Wegeforth, Bieler and the board of directors of the 66-year-old Zoological Society of San Diego are turning to show biz once again to stimulate attendance in an age of economic uncertainties and intense competition among Southland tourist attractions.
The new emphasis on entertainment, such as musical concerts and acrobatic acts, is only one of several changes that have taken place at the zoo and its 10-year-old auxiliary facility near Escondido, the San Diego Wild Animal Park. There is new construction and plans for more. And there is new, expanded management with orders to tighten the fiscal belt and get more work from the same number of employees.
And these changes, taken collectively, have prompted something else that, if not unprecedented, is at least unusual in this highly respected nonprofit institution: Controversy. Dissension between employees and management is widespread. And criticism that “circus” acts tend to denigrate the zoo’s noble aims are commonplace.
“It’s getting to be more tinsel-town all the time,” one former employee complained. A petition signed by 130 staff members suggested that the zoo — considered among the world’s elite — is now “going downhill.”
Bieler says he is more concerned with morale among the Zoological Society’s 1,200 employees than at any time before in his 11-year tenure. Employees who go back more than 20 years say they have never seen such discontent in their ranks. Unless it is corrected, the turmoil is bound to adversely affect the care of animals and popularity of the zoo, employees and supervisors agree.
The controversy, brewing for several months, surfaced publicly in December in the petition sent to Sheldon Campbell, president of the institution’s board of directors, and some new media.
The petition listed a shrinking species collection, static attendance, the use of emergency funds, layoffs, the “circus” acts and top-heavy administration problems.
“We all have a great stake in our zoo and hate to see it go downhill. Therefore we ask you to take a long hard look at the payroll budget from the top of we really need to economize,” the petition said in part.
“Hourly rated full-time and many part-time employees have been laid off, but we still have the same number of supervisors.”
Discontent also has surfaced in anonymous notes submitted for a question-and-answer column in the employee newsletter.
“Over the past few months, morale has deteriorated to a rock-bottom low. I’m sure that our visitors can sense this,” one zoo-based employee wrote. “It is hard to hide this uncomfortable situation. We used to be more or less one big happy family. That doesn’t exist anymore.”
One long-time employee, who is said to be the author of the petition, declined to be interviewed, nothing that he and other disgruntled staff members were scheduled to meet with Bieler and Campbell later this month. “If nothing comes of it, maybe I’ll give you a call then,” he said.
Bieler and Campbell said they believe morale problems stem chiefly from poor internal communications. Bieler said he has scheduled meetings with departments to air concerns and has announced that he will not fill the position being vacated by deputy director Andy Grant, who has resigned to manage a tourist attraction in England. The director said his decision not to fill the post will enable him both to have closer contact with his staff and to show employees that the administration is willing to make sacrifices.
“We probably should have done the job of communicating to them what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. And maybe we’re not listening enough,” Bieler said.
But he and Campbell strongly disputed the suggestion that the zoo is “going downhill.”
Emergency reserves were used to pay for part of a $3-million initial phase of the “Heart of the Zoo” renewal program, an exhibit of Southeast Asian primates and birds. That money will be replenished through donations, he said.
Bieler confirmed that more employees than usual were laid off at the end of the peak summer season, but stressed that only part-time workers were affected. In many cases hours were cut back.
“We just tightened it up a little tighter than we had in previous years,” he said. “The concern is, hey, what is down the road? I think we really are very sound financially. We have the emergency reserve. We’re in the black at both institutions.”
Campbell stressed that the decrease in the size of the zoo’s species collection — numbering about 850 today compared to the 950 of 10 years ago — reflects an international shift in zoo philosophy and, properly viewed, is a sign of progress, not digression.
Although it is true the zoo used to have more species, Campbell explained, many were exhibited as singles. Today, he said, zoos trade species to exhibit them in pairs to encourage captive breeding, thus reducing the tendency to capture species in the wild.
Campbell is confident the zoo is still making advances. “Nobody can touch us when it comes to research,” he said. And, although the administration has been instructed to cut costs, the San Diego Zoo’s financial stability is envied by officials from other zoos, he said.
Most zoos across the nation relay on taxes to survive. Only about 2 percent of the San Diego Zoological Society’s $43 million budget for 1983 comes from taxes. Most of it comes from gate receipts, commissions, membership fees and private donations.
Most of the complaints have emerged at the zoo, rather than the Wild Animal Park. General manager Terry Winnick, who joined the zoo administration in June from MCA Corp., owners of Universal Studios, often is blamed for low morale.
Horticulturist Ernie Chew, credited with enhancing the zoo’s extensive botanical collection over the past decade, resigned within a few weeks of Winnick’s arrival because of repeated clashes with his new boss. Winnick’s directives and what has been described as a condescending attitude have rankled many employees.
Despite the complaints, Campbell and Bieler express confidence in Winnick, dismissing Chew’s resignation as an unfortunate incident but something that can be expected in any large organization. “We heave our personalities, we have our points of friction,” Bieler said. Winnick said criticism “comes with the territory . . . I can accept that.”
There appears to be a feeling among directors that the zoo really needed an aggressive supervisor.
“He (Winnick) tends to be a ‘do-it’ kind of guy . . . a go-getter, a hustler,” Campbell said. “That attitude really hadn’t prevailed around here.”
Campbell said he felt a laconic work atmosphere had developed at the zoo over the past decade while the board of directors and Bieler had concentrated their efforts on developing and organizing the Wild Animal Park, where visitors ride a monorail to view animals in a more realistic habitat.
Attendance at the Wild Animal Park has climbed 20 percent in each of the last two years, a phenomenon officials attribute to summer concert series featuring mostly middle-of-the-road acts like the Kingston Trio and Rick Nelson. This success — at a time tourist business is down roughly 10 percent — has enabled the directors to turn their attention back to the zoo, Campbell said.
Zoo attendance has held steady at 3 million for the past 10 years. The gate slipped slightly in 1982, which zoo officials attribute both to the recession and to the Wild Animal Park’s success. “We’re competing against ourselves,” Bieler said.
The zoo tried a clown, Emmett Kelly, Jr., a few years ago and a troupe of Chinese acrobats last summer to boost attendance. The efforts have met with criticism.
” ‘We’re a zoo, not a circus’ — you hear that a lot,” zoo spokesman Jeff Jouett said.
“It’s very difficult,” Campbell said. “We are constantly balancing science and show. . . . A lot of people call for lighter forms of amusement.”
Ironically, the Wild Animal Park had its best day in 1982 when it featured an act that violated the policy calling for “good family entertainment.” Faced with a late cancellation, officials booked the rock group Dr. Hook.
Officials found that the group attracted a much younger crowd, non-members generally, who had to pay full admission. Zoological Society members get in free to the zoo and park for their $35 annual fee.
But, as for more rock music, Bieler said, “We want to stay away from that. We might sample it now and them, but we want to stay pretty much with the family-type entertainment. It’s established a good pattern for us.”
“It’s very important that we maintain the image we are a zoo first, and we have the finest collection of animals in the world, and that people are coming to see these animals.”
Statistics indicate the disenchantment felt by many employees is not shared by the public, at least not yet. Memberships have soared from 75,000 to 127,000 during the last five years. The combined attendance of the zoo and park was a record 4.5 million in 1983, placing in third behind Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm among Southland attractions. Officials attribute the growth to the concert series, the growth of the park and aggressive marketing.
January 9, 1983, San Diego Union, F-1, F-13, F-15. James Britton on San Diego . . . The Last Hurrah.
January 11, 1983, San Diego Tribune, C-3. Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater’s “tomorrow” draws you right into space, by Gregory N. Joseph.
The theater’s special 70mm Omnimax projection throws the film’s images onto a 76-foot tiled dome screen that surrounds those in the audience, making them not so much moviegoers as moviedoers — near participants.
To be sure, it seems fitting that a motion picture like “Tomorrow in Space” — with its many pioneering elements — should launch the 10thanniversary celebration of the Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater & Science Center.
The 350-seat Fleet theater had an annual paid attendance of 401,000 people in fiscal 1982. For the same period, revenues generated by ticket sales totaled almost $1.2 million.
February 4, 1983, San Diego Tribune, A-2. The County’s senior citizens, who golf at the city’s Balboa Park, haven’t given up their fight to regain pass-buying privileges.
February 25, 1983, San Diego Union, A-1, A-10. San Diego Polishes Its Pomp For A Big Weekend of Royal Circumstance, by R. H. Growald.
San Diego polished its pomp and circumstance today for the weekend visit by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
The royal schedule calls for invitation audiences only when the queen visits Balboa Park, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and St. Paul’s. The invitations to her receptions and Saturday night dinner aboard her yacht Britannia number a total of only 450. In all, according to her hosts, about 4,500 San Diegans have been invited to be within sight of the queen.
The queen is coming to California after touring Mexico’s west coast at the suggestion of Mr. Reagan. He invited her while visiting Windsor Castle last year and British officials said the monarch expressed interest in seeing California.
February 26, 1983, San Diego Union, A-1, A-8. Her Majesty Arrives Today Amid Curtsies, Cheers, Protests, by R. H. Growald.
In the San Diego Zoo, they washed the elephant’s feet for the coming of Prince Philip, Elizabeth’s husband. At the Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park they readied a fanfare for the queen with trumpets, trombones, organ, timpani and, hoping she wouldn’t notice, French and not English horns.
The queen and her husband depart Scripps in separate cars. The Secret Service is providing presidential bulletproof limousines. Both will head for Balboa Park.
Elizabeth will go to the Old Globe Theater, that New World bastion of William Shakespeare. The queen will receive a history of the theater in leather binding, drawings and the sounds of that special music. She will unveil Roy Paul Madson’s six-foot statue of the Bard.
Donald Ogden Stiers, late the Boston Brahmin doctor of the TV show “M*A*S*H” and fellow performer Eva Roberts will recite Shakespearean sonnets and some poetry of the American Hart Crane. Having the monarch at the Old Globe moved theater official Bruce Maza to say it as Falstaff might have:
“This visit is an affirmation of all that we strive to do at the Old Globe. It is an affirmation of the traditions that Shakespeare and the Globe represent in the English-speaking world. And the power of the theater.”
“The visit is very finely choreographed theater,” he said. Performing their roles, Senator Pete Wilson, lately mayor of San Diego, will escort the queen from the theater into the Sculpture Garden of the San Diego Museum of Art.
Here, amid the works of British sculptors Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, her majesty will be introduced to leaders of British societies in San Diego, to museum officials, and to city leaders led by Cleator.
Meanwhile, in the Zoo, Philip, president of the World Wildlife Fund International, will be shown animals the San Diego pride has helped save from extinction. Zoo spokeswoman Carole Towne said Devi, the 5-year old elephant that thinks she is a jumbo, is having her feet washed of mud and other playthings lest Philip get the wrong impression.
Because time is short, driver-guide Pete Munroe, 32, is keeping his chatter brief. He eliminated the jokes he usually tells guests aboard a double-deck Zoo bus.
February 27, 1983, San Diego Union, A-1, A-11, A-13. Queen unveils Bard and touches the people, by Welton Jones and Mark Sauer.
The rain stopped and the sun broke through just before Queen Elizabeth II alighted from her limousine in Balboa Park yesterday and stepped gingerly on her heels along the soaked, crimson carpet.
If Queen Elizabeth I visited Shakespeare’s Globe Theater during her reign four centuries ago, no account survives. But her namesake’s arrival at San Diego’s Old Globe Theater, amid the skirl of bagpipes and the snapping of her own royal standard is now a matter of glowing public record.
Despite a balky pen, Queen Elisabeth II signed a broad “Elizabeth II” in a special guest book and proceeded into the theater itself to the strains of Conrad Susa’s “The Royal Estrada,” composed for the occasion and played by the San Diego Symphony’s brass and percussion.
As the queen mounted the stage to unveil a new bust of Shakespeare, the 500 invited Globe guests applauded, then wavered uncertainly over whether to sit or stand until Senator Pete Wilson, the queen’s official host in the park, firmly motioned them into their seats.
The senator lauded the Globe’s 45-year history and hailed the “rich symbolism” of her visit, then invited her to “give a hearty yank” to the golden cord dangling next to the bust, which she did, cueing an unseen stagehand who did the actual work of whisking the cloth into the loft over the stage.
As flutist Dannan Bursill-Hall and harpist Sheila Sterling of the symphony played more Susa accompaniment, David Ogden-Stiers and Eve Roberts, two actors who have performed at the Globe recently, read, in turn, three Shakespearean sonnets (VIII, CXVI and XXX) and “To Shakespeare,” a sonnet by the American poet Hart Crane.
After the readings, with another flourish of Susa music, the queen followed Senator Wilson up the wrong aisle and out through the lobby.
“Oh no,” groaned a Secret Service man in the back of the house. “Pete never could take direction,” muttered a senior Globe staffer.
Later, at the San Diego Museum of Art, the queen requested that Stiers, a featured performer on television’s “M*A*S*H” and Roberts be brought to her for questions.
“Very simple and very gracious,” Stiers called the five-minute conversation. “She congratulated us on the reading, and asked many questions about how many shows the Globe does, how many stages it has, where the actors come from.
“She seemed to have an extraordinary knowledge about theater in general and, though I may be inventing this, she seemed quite taken with the Globe.”
Outside the playhouse, the queen passed between the House of Scotland Pipe Band and Dancers on the green and the main body of the Globe staff and artists, ranged in front of the Cassius Carter Center Stage, and decked out in extraordinary finery.
(“You’ll see more ties here today than ever before,” predicted Globe technical director Jim Burke, with accuracy. And hats were much in evidence among the Globe ladies, on 23 of 44 by actual count.)
Then it was a stroll next door for a civic ceremony at the San Diego Museum of Art. There, the queen, a mother of four, danced the minuet of royal ritual among Americans with such finesse that she bridged the chasm between her pomp and their everyday life.
Many of those assembled belonged to fraternal organizations representing not only England but also Wales, Scotland, Canada and other Commonwealth nations. And they shouted “God Save the Queen!” and applauded as the queen entered. The event planned for outdoors was transferred inside because of the rain, requiring some paintings to be hastily rearranged.
The queen was given a bouquet, the key to the city, an album of photographs taken by citizens and a catalog of American paintings hanging in the San Diego Museum of Art.
Bill Cleator, the acting mayor, apologized for nervousness and stumbled through a brief speech, forgetting to use the microphone and therefore leaving the 500 or so dignitaries and guests inside the museum’s 20th Century Gallery as bewildered as they were awed.
And that was it for the ceremony. The entire event took less than five minutes.
But Elizabeth II couldn’t bring herself to leave these stout-hearted faithful — many of whom had waited hours in rain showers — with just a glimpse of her royal self.
As she was being led away, stage left, the queen tapped Senator Wilson’s shoulder with her white-gloved hand. She asked in a whisper if another moment or two couldn’t be spared. Of course it could.
So the queen nodded toward stage right, a gesture that said. “C’mon let’s mingle awhile.” And that’s precisely what she did.
Among the first the queen spoke with was Susan Kockritz. “What a lovely museum you have,” her majesty told Kockritz, whose husband, Frank, is a past president of the museum.
Mrs. Kockritz, herself a board member at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, replied, “I’m sorry it’s a rainy day.” And the queen said, “Yes, I know you are, but it reminds me of England. Are you English?” Mrs. Kockritz allowed that she wasn’t, but had visited Great Britain.
The row of medals on the chest of Eric Draper, 89, caught the monarch’s attention and drew her to his wheelchair.
“Where did you serve?” the queen asked Draper, a longtime San Diego travel agent and British native. She had realized immediately that the medals were British and of World War I vintage.
“In the Holy Land with General Cheator’s forces,” Draper replied in a firm voice.
“I’ve heard a lot about that,” Elizabeth replied, fixing him with her blue eyes and a smile.
She looked at the old warrior of her grandfather’s army.
The Queen of England awarded Draper a new decoration — a smile.
“That was very emotional for me,” the elderly man said as the queen moved on. “She caught me completely by surprise. King George V and Queen Mary (Elizabeth’s grandparents) once visited my men during World War I when I was serving with a British West Indies regiment. And when Edward was Duke of Windsor (the late king Edward VIII who abdicated in 1936), he once slipped his security people during the war (Draper also served in World War II) and dropped into my trench and asked us boys for a drink. But oh, this today was a thrill.”
Betsy Lawson told Queen Elizabeth that she was a proud member of the Daughters of the British Empire. “Is that a large organization here?” the queen asked. ” I told her there were six chapters,” said Lawson, who belongs to the Sir Walter Raleigh chapter. “Actually there are five, but I was so nervous.”
Noticing Pat Bryan’s button reading “The British are Coming” Queen Elizabeth stopped. Then her royal highness turned to Bryan’s husband Jack, who is past president of the Trafalgar Club here, and said, “What are you doing here?” Jack Bryan replied: “I came to see you, Your Majesty.” The queen then said, “Oh, you have so many organizations here.”
Moments later, Pat Bryan was still trying to quell a racing heart. “I can’t believe we got so close to here,” said Pat, who like her husband is a native of England. “We’ve seen her several times before and three years ago we saw the entire royal family during the trooping of the colors at Buckingham Palace.”
Earlier, in the foyer of the Globe, Senator Wilson introduced the queen to J. Stacey Sullivan, the Globe’s chairman of the board, who made the formal presentation of Globe officials and their wives.
First of all, there was Lowell Davies, the Globe’s president for decades, now elevated to honorary life chairman, but too ailing to stand when presented. Then there was James S. Milch, president of the Globe, and the three main staff members, executive producer Craig Noel, artistic director Jack O’Brien, and managing director Thomas Hall.
As Sullivan introduced the queen to each person in turn, the subject came up of the Globe’s arson fire in 1978, which destroyed the predecessor of the present building.
“She seemed surprised to hear about it,” Noel said later. “We got into a dialogue on it.”
O’Brien, introduced by Sullivan as the man to whom Craig Noel has passed the torch, said he got a laugh from the queen.
“I told her she did us a double honor,” O’Brien said, “by visiting the theater and by stopping the rain.”
When Hall was presented, he got a second laugh.
“What does a managing director do?” asked the queen, perhaps perplexed by the two titles.
“I pay for everything,” Hall answered, and she laughed, saying, “I know what that’s like.” She seemed very easy.
Next in line after Helen Edison, the major benefactor for whose late husband Simon the Globe complex is named, was Conrad Susa, the composer, who had once before written a commissioned piece for the Queen during her Bicentennial visit to Boston in 1976.
“When Stacey told her this was the second piece I’d written for her,” she seemed startled,” Susa said. “But she did recognize the word ‘Boston.’”
All who met her yesterday emphasized the queen’s steady piercing gaze and her ability to concentrate fully upon the subject of the moment.
Mrs. Irving Solomon, a Globe patron who commissioned the Shakespeare bust as a tribute to her late husband, Colonel Irving Solomon, was the only person in the receiving line to curtsy to the queen.
The visit was pronounced a success by all, despite a few stated regrets that she had made no remarks.
“What a theater this is,” said longtime Globe actor Jonathan McMurtry. Rehearse all day and meet the queen in the afternoon, Exhilarating.”
Beyond the museum, in the Zoo, directors were presenting Philip with its special medal given in honor of the prince’s work in preserving wildlife around the world.
Last night the royal couple gave the dinner aboard the Britannia for nearly 50 people.
Royal spokesman Shea at sunset told reporters the city’s welcome had overcome the rain. He called it a “very successful day, far from washed out.”
“The welcome had shown through,” he said.
February 27, 1983, San Diego Union, A-11. Delighted Prince Thinks Zoo Should Get A Medal, Too, by Gina Lubrano and Arthur Golden.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, knows a lot about wild animals. He can talk authoritatively about the mating habits of a lemur and the intestinal tract of a koala.
The prince did just that yesterday during a 40-minute visit to the San Diego Zoo in which he received a citation for his service in the cause of wildlife conservation.
He returned the compliment, praising the Balboa Park facility for its “wonderful reputation” for breeding endangered species in captivity. “I should present you with a medal,” he told delighted Zoo officials.
Then the prince flew by Marine Corps helicopter to Fairbanks Ranch ,site of the equestrian endurance event in the 1984 Olympic Games. The field targeted for the Olympic site was too muddy to inspect, so the prince received a briefing at a nearby country club.
Prince Philip had been driven to the Zoo while his wife Queen Elizabeth II was visiting the Old Globe Theater. His motorcade, pelted by rain, sloshed along waterlogged streets. Inside the Zoo, “singing” Sumatran apes, known as Siamangs, squawked through their throat sacs.
But when Prince Philip arrived at 4 p.m. the rain stopped falling, as if by royal edict and the black Siamangs suddenly fell silent. Curators said they could not account for the silences of the usually garrulous primates.
Zoo maintenance workers had cast their own seemingly magical spell, drying out inundated plants and mopping up pools of water along the route of the prince’s tour in what surely must have been record time.
The smiling, 62-year-old prince, wearing a gray business suit, was applauded as he strolled to the gate of the Japanese Garden, north of the visitor’s entrance. An estimated 3,000 visitors were in the Zoo during the royal visit but tight security along his route allowed only a handful to catch a glimpse of him.
Carmen Neese, 7, of San Marcos, Texas, was among the lucky ones. She applauded at the sight of the prince — even though she was disappointed at being prevented from presenting him with a bouquet of carnations and daisies. Her gift had not been cleared in advance by the Secret Service.
Roger Trusk, a native of Louton, England, who had been a Zoo employee for 13 years, was among those waiting for the prince. He had been working all day in the rain to spruce up the Zoo for the visit, and decided to stay for a look at the royal entourage.
Woodrow Deppa, 70, and his bride, Eva Belle, 69, spent a day of their honeymoon at the Zoo. They arrived at 9:30 a.m., spent several hours touring the Zoo, retired to their motor home in the Zoo parking lot when it began to pour — and emerged minutes before 4 p.m. just in time to see the prince.
“Aren’t we lucky?” beamed Deppa of Lansing, Michigan.
Lorraine Mayor and her grandson, Mickey Mayo, 5, of San Diego, roamed the Zoo most of the day, and, although tired, hung on until they were able to wave to the prince. The effort was worthwhile, Grandma Mayo said.
“There’s so much trouble in the world, it’s just kind of fairy-tale-like, seeing a real-life prince, she said.
Prince Philip, accompanied by Selwa Roosevelt, U.S. chief of protocol, was greeted by Charles Bieler, executive director of the Zoological Society of San Diego, and Sheldon Campbell, Zoological Society president.
The society operates the Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Bieler and Campbell were both carrying umbrellas that went unused during the prince’s visit.
In the first part of his visit, the prince and Zoo directors went on a walking tour of the Heart of the Zoo, a new exhibit of exotic wildlife. There, said Diane Brockman, curator of mammals-primates, the prince showed extraordinary knowledge of the mating habits of lemurs, primates from Madagascar.
“He talked about how they mate once a year,” she said.
Prince Philip then boarded a double-decker bus and sat topside with Zoo officials. He had little privacy. A bus packed with reporters and photographers rolled ahead of his vehicle and another bus trailed behind.
He waved to clusters of onlookers at the beginning of the bus route, but from then on his attention was focused on the animals, such as Anna, a golden retriever, who was in the enclosure with her roommate, Arusha, a cheetah.
The bus went past European bison, gazelles and musk oxen, stopping at the enclosure holding Przewalski’s wild horses, believed to be extinct in their wild habitat across Mongolia and North China. There are about 400 in captivity, 18 in San Diego.
When the bus reached the Arabian oryx exhibit, the prince stood for a better look and chatted with Dr. Kurt Benirschke, director of Zoo research.
The Arabian oryx, probable source of the unicorn legend because of its appearance, was hunted to the brink of extinction less that two decades ago. A total of 101 were born here since 1973 and the Zoo and the Wild Animal Park have 38 of them. Arabian oryx from San Diego’s captive herd have been sent to Jordan, Onan, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Prince Philip lavished special praise on Zoo officials for their work in saving the Arabian oryx. “What you have done for the oryx will go down in history because it was virtually extinct,” he said.
The royal bus, traveling in fits and starts, stopped at the elephant enclosure, and then made a final stop at the koala exhibit. Keeper Jane Jacobsen went on aboard with Pooya, one of the 16 koalas in the Zoo collection. Hugely enjoying himself, Prince Philip pelted Pooya’s nose and rubbed the furry creature’s ear.
After the bus tour, the prince became the 32nd person to receive the Zoological Society’s Conservation Medal. Society President Campbell called the prince a “person of compassion” whose interest in wildlife has moved him to take long journeys to plead the cause of threatened species. The prince is president of the World Wildlife Fund-International.
With a twinkle in his eye, Campbell later said that the prince was not a member of the Zoological Society. “But we can send him a form” for membership, he said.
Prince Philip is also president of the International Equestrian Foundation which is organizing the equestrian events at the 1984 Olympics. Yesterday’s visit to the Fairbanks Ranch Olympic site was his second. The first was in September.
March 8, 1973, San Diego Union, B-1. City Council approves land swap with U.S. Navy of Florida Canyon land for old Naval Hospital land; Navy gets 35.935 acres of Florida Canyon and retains 39.995 acres on old site; City gets 34.34 acres and $6.86 million from the government to cover building demolition costs and planting of the site.
March 14, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-10. Letter, George F. Burger, North Park, does not care for plan to close Florida Canyon.
The “street closers” want to put in a lake, estimated to cost about a million dollars, some walkways and begonia beds. With miles of beaches and other flower gardens, we need these like we need a hole in our heads.
March 23, 1983, San Diego Union, At Ease-4:1-8. King Arthur Field-Archery event will take place in Balboa Park on March 27.
April 5, 1983, San Diego Union, D-5. Festival Stage fund pledged.
Although the Old Globe Theater has not been given permission by the city to use its 650-seat Festival Stage in Balboa Park past his summer, three San Diego men have pledged a total of $200,000 to renovate the facility and name it for Lowell Davies, the Globe’s longtime president and now emeritus chairman of the board.
April 13, 1983, San Diego Union, B-3:2-5. Group fighting the construction of the Naval Regional Medical Center has asked a Superior Court judge to reconsider the decision that a proposed land swap between the federal government and the city of San Diego is proper.
April 20, 1983, San Diego Tribune, C-4. Balboa Park school a real gem: mineral and gem craft shows in Spanish Village, by Grace Aleshire.
The school is one part of the many-faceted San Diego Mineral and Gem Society’s program which helps enrich in unique ways, thousands of lives of area residents and untold numbers of visitors to the city. Other aspects of the Society include a museum and library.
April 29, 1983, San Diego Tribune. America’s Finest City Week canceled for lack of interest, by Alison Da Rosa . . . The City has decided to cease holding the week-long mid-August celebration in favor of a proposed “San Diego Cultural Fair” from September 23 to October 8.
May 19, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-1. Tourist crowd out hometowners; park museums may reduce free admission days; would restrict “free Tuesdays” to one free day per month; new policy approved by Public Facilities and Recreation Committee yesterday, by Jeff Ristine.
The institutions say nearly three out of every four visitors on the free days come from outside San Diego County — people who presumably would pay to get into the museums if they had to. The free visit days were originally intended to benefit low-income San Diegans.
May 19, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-3. Public Facilities & Recreation Committee lobs tennis court concerns to full Council; plan to allow non-profit groups to operate 80 city tennis courts. By Jeff Ristine.
Councilman William Jones had raised questions about the plan when the proposal reached the committee two weeks ago, saying courts in poor neighborhoods were not being serviced and maintained as well as courts in other parts of the city.
May 27, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-14. Letter backing free day in park, by Peter Carter.
Your article of May 19 on the proposed elimination of free admission days at the various museums and other cultural institutions in Balboa and Presidio parks reflects some emerging attitudes of our current civic leadership.
I have been a volunteer at the International Aero-Space Hall of Fame for the last 20 months, and I have been the volunteer in charge on Tuesdays for over a year.
Most people who come to the museum on Tuesday have no idea the day is free; many express pleasant surprise. So they haven’t come to take advantage of the free day; they have come to the park and enter the Aero-Space Museum proper because it’s free. Admissions soar on Tuesday because Tuesdays are free, not because of increased park visitation. The museum isn’t losing revenue from the free day because elimination of the free day will correspondingly lower admission totals.
But there is a larger question than any institutions admissions policy. There is no private, self-supporting institution in Balboa Park. Each and every facility has been built and is maintained by public funds, be they direct cash subsidies, nominal rents, tax status contributions or volunteer man-hours. There are no “Sea World”-type operations in the park, for the simple reason that private enterprise sees little chance of a favorable cash flow in running the art museum, or even our beloved zoo.
Parks with museums, zoos and cultural institutions are not bottom-line operations that can be evaluated on the current balance sheet. They are rather our pasts and our futures. They are reflections of the best we have done and hold glimmers of out best to come. We take our children to museums to widen their awareness of the history and the future of our city and our country. Museums are keys that open to all of us the possibilities that life offers. In our Aero-Space Museum, people of all ages experience a unique perspective of aviation that many have told me personally excels the National and Smithsonian exhibits in Washington, D.C. But if you cannot get in, you will not experience anything.
In the years since Proposition 13, the cultural life of this city has plummeted. Faced with declining revenues, our civic leaders rose to the challenge by cutting library hours and staff and slicing support of “non-essential” institutions. These institutions are seeking to maintain their standards of excellence, indeed to improve, while watching financial support erode.
A year ago all the museums in Balboa Park were free on Tuesdays, as they had been for over 20 years. At the request of the museums, free days were staggered. Now the free day itself is questioned. The free days were not designed to benefit low-income people. The free days are a long-standing tradition, designed to allow public access on a regular basis to publicly supported institutions. Until a few years ago, the zoo was free everyday to children under 16 so that your children could freely visit your zoo.
This policy change is based on faulty data and overly optimistic revenue gains. My own estimation of the maximum income gain for the Aero-Space Museum would be around $21,000 — or 50 cents for every free admission of last year. Perhaps next we should consider charging hourly rents for picnic areas” How about a “user fee” for all the wear and tear on the asphalt caused by those joggers?
I ask the Aero-Space Museum the other park entities and the City Council to drop this proposed action. One free day a week is little to ask from any publicly-supported institution, as indeed former city leaders have deemed this proper. One free day a month equals no free day a month for the general public. Only those who happen to visit any museum on its one free day will gain anything; the rest will lose yet another of the things that once made San Diego “America’s Finest City.”
And the museums will lose a large percentage of what they need to thrive — people.
June 2, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-2. Balboa and Presidio Parks free-day shift okayed.
City Council has authorized museums and other cultural institutions in Balboa and Presidio parks to offer free admission one day per month instead of once a week.
A representative of the park had complained to a council committee that too many tourists were taking advantage of free admission days, originally intended to benefit low-income San Diegans.
Operators of the institutions will be required to offer their free admissions on the same day in any given month.
June 5, 1983, San Diego Union, H-1, H-11. New Hall of Champions upbeat, by Barry Lorge.
The new Hall of Champions [which opened its doors yesterday] is much more spacious than the old, the better to accommodate the assembled bats, balls, gloves, pucks, jerseys, trophies, pictures and stuff that wouldn’t fit in the attic — an antique rowing shell, a 1950s land speed racer, and the late Bill Muncey’s thunderboat, for example.
At present the exhibits are not too stirring. Don’t expect the Smithsonian or Cooperstown. But the Hall is decidedly pleasant and decidedly upbeat: a testimonial to the variety of San Diego sports and the men and women who have played them.
June 7, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-3. Promoters of Balboa Park events should be required to post a bond for cleanup, liability, by Preston Turegano and Elizabeth Wong.
Promoters of future public events conducted in Balboa Park should be required to post a bond to assure that the city is paid for the use of its facilities and services, the Balboa Park Committee has decided.
The recommendation follows difficulty collecting money owned for events held in the park, including San Diego Sun Days, a four-day event staged Easter Week as a benefit for three civic youth organizations and four international hunger-relief groups.
The fourth annual San Diego Renaissance Festival, tentatively scheduled at the Organ Pavilion next month, will go on as scheduled because its promoter, Bill Reinis of International Pageant, Inc., already posted a bond.
In other committee business, members of the Sierra Club and Citizens Coordinate for Century 3 asked the committee to consider allowing the two environmental groups to set up an environmental resource and research center in the former fire-alarm office at Marston Point.
The Sierra Club, a tenant in the House of Hospitality for more than 15 years, and Citizens Coordinate for 14 years were both given 30-day eviction notices because of proposed expansion of a park information office.
June 8, 1983, Los Angeles Times, II-1, 2. Sherman, little Park in southeast San Diego, perks up with youth group at helm.
June 10, 1983, San Diego Tribune. Fest rescued to honor America’s Finest City, by Jeff Ristine.
America’s Finest City Week has been rescued.
The San Diego Junior Chamber of Commerce, KFMB radio and Mayor Hedgecock have joined forces to make sure the week of special events and plain old civic pride is carried forth this August.
June 16, 1983, Park and Recreation Board Minutes.
- Placement of Monument to be Presented by the Yokohama Sister City Society
Mr. Roberts presented the June 7, 1983 Informational Report to the Board which stated that subject monument is scheduled to be placed in a shrub bed approximately 50 feet north of the Dail Memorial Gate in Balboa Park in a ceremony to be held on June 28, 1983.
The Balboa Park Committee, on June 6, 1983, and the Facilities Committee, on June 8, 1983, unanimously recommended approval.
MOTION: It was moved, seconded and carried unanimously to approve the placement of the monument as reported by staff.
June 17, 1983, Los Angeles Times, II-1, 2. Balboa Park losing gleam as city juggles its priorities, by Tom Greeley.
Arman Campillo, the City of San Diego’s parks and recreation director, refers to Balboa Park as “our jewel,” but he is the first to admit the aging gem has lost some of its luster.
Even with park visitors digging ever more frequently into their pockets to pay for activities there, the city is losing the battle to maintain its top tourist attraction and its smorgasbord of services.
“Balboa Park is always our top priority when it comes to maintenance, and we’ve tried to cut back our services in ways so that the problem areas are hidden from the general public,” Campillo said.
“But a lot of the facilities are old, and frankly I don’t know where we’ll get the money to rebuild them when the time comes. Depending on how ambitious you are, restoring the park could cost anywhere from 40 to 100 million dollars.”
The effect of Proposition 13 on Balboa Park was quick and in the minds of patrons and directors of many of the cultural institutions based there, devastating. It changed forever the operation of virtually every organization in the park.
Cuts in the city’s park and recreation budget immediately gored Balboa Park children’s programs, museums and athletic leagues, which suddenly had to run more like businesses than philanthropic or educational organizations. Other activities either had to be sponsored by volunteers or dropped altogether.
The amount of money that cultural organizations receive from the city and county transient occupancy taxes has remained constant since 1978, most directors reported, leaving the organizations to cope with inflation-boosted costs by themselves.
“It’s gotten very tough for use to set priorities,” said David Seyfarth, manager of Balboa Park. “We will continue to provide the basic levels of service, but beyond that, it’s up to the community.”
Those who look carefully probably have noticed that the park’s canyons are rarely maintained and that trimming and pruning in landscaped areas have become more occasional than regular.
The planting schedule has been cut back (the mall is now planted with flowers once a year rather than changing with the seasons). The once popular flower-shows in the Botanical Building have been scrapped, with the exception of an Easter lily exhibit financed by a private donor.
Volleyball, basketball and softball players citywide, who once played without cost, now contribute about $150,000 to the treasury each year. And the salaries of directors of Junior Theater, Youth Symphony and the civic dance program for children are no longer paid by the city, further straining the treasuries of those organizations.
Museums in the park now pay their own utilities, a hefty expense that was largely responsible for the $2.50 admission fee they now charge (Admission was free before Proposition 13, and the city paid the utilities). They also pay for garbage collection, and some have started their own maintenance programs because they consider the city’s to be inadequate.
Along with the Old Globe Theater, the museums — with the notable exception of the Museum of Art — have cut back on the number of outreach programs for youth, senior citizens and minorities.
Designed to bring cultural activities to segments of the community that might not otherwise be able to experience them, outreach programs bring thousands of persons into museums and performance halls for little or no charge, with the organizations or sponsoring groups (typically schools) paying the tab.
“It’s something we all took for granted, because it’s a traditional part of the arts in most major cities,” said Robert Arnhym, director of COMBO, the umbrella fund-raising body for San Diego area cultural organizations. “But understandably they are among the first things to suffer when things got tight.”
Schools, field trips to museums and performances are far less frequent since Proposition 13-limited finances have caused many schools to cancel their annual Balboa Park trips and the organizations in the park can do nothing to help out.
“We’re doing all we can,” said Diane Sinor, educational director for the Old Globe, which began its annual education tour in 1974 but has seen the program wane in recent years because many organizations cannot afford the group’s $200 performance fee. “We can’t lower the price anymore because we already take a loss on the program — the fee barely pays for transportation — but we hate to see it affected by the shortage of money in the schools.”
Two years ago, the Globe visited 157 schools in its program to expose young people to classical theater, but that number was down to 114 last year and will drop again in 1983, Sinor said.
The group hopes to find a corporate donor to pay for the program, but Arnhym said it might get caught in a classic Catch-22 when it begins its drive to raise funds. Other local groups hoping for corporate donations may experience similar problems, he said.
“The loss of those outreach programs makes it tough to recruit corporate donations, because it makes the group less attractive from a public relations standpoint,” Arnhym said.
Cultural organizations have become far more business-conscious since 1978, and nowhere is the change more evident than at the Museum of Art.
Deputy Director Jane Rice said the utility bill has risen from slightly more than $100,000 a year when the museum first began paying it to $235,000, accounting for 46% of the museum’s current annual expenditures. The city and county, which once provided 50% to 60% of the museum’s budget, now contribute 20%, although that largely reflects the expansion of programs rather than a loss of public funding.
“We have no choice but to run the museum as a business now,” Rice said. A marketing and public relations program was established with impressive results.
A museum store that once was a small venture staffed by volunteers has been expanded into a significant commercial outlet. IT lost $7,000 in its first year, but now, combined with a publication program that markets posters commemorating museum shows, generates $110,000 in income annually.
Corporate donations have increased from $9,000 to more than $145,000, but are nearly canceled out by the increased costs of the outreach programs. “The education programs are a terrible burden on our budget, but we felt they were important with our new strategy,” Rice said.
Bruce Maza, a spokesman for the Old Globe, said the theater received tremendous community support for its rebuilding effort after “the Balboa Park arsonist” struck it in 1978. In addition, he said, government support for the renowned theater has not suffered.
“The Globe has been very fortunate — I can’t say that we’ve lost money,” Maza said. “But we find we have to fight harder to justify the allocations we receive.”
Youth groups, whose directors were cut from the city budget were hit with the immediate expense of hiring those staff people, costing Junior Theater $22,000 annually, the civic dance program $16,000 and the Youth Symphony $15,000.
The burden on volunteers has increased, as have fund-raising activities and pleas for corporate and private donations. “It’s become increasingly difficult for us to find enough people to give their time and money because we’ve had to go to them so often,” said Marcia Brechlin, treasurer of the Youth Symphony, which was affected more than the other organizations because many of its activities involve travel.
Youth Symphony concerts are still given free, but park buildings that once were used by the group are not as likely to be available without a rental fee, Brechlin said. She added that concert tours are “now virtually impossible,” although the group went to China in 1981 and received a special donation from the county for the trip.
June 17, 1983, San Diego Union, B-3. Robertson E. Collins, of National Trust for Historic Preservation, says Balboa Park commercial activity should be limited, by Roger Showley.
Noting that the new $381 million San Diego Naval Hospital, under construction in the park’s Florida Canyon, takes up a large area of parkland, Collins said it is all the more important that remaining parkland remain as open space.
June 21, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-6. Letter objecting to rotten and broken benches at Organ Pavilion, by Edward S. Barr.
June 23, 1983, READER. Seven days in August, by Paul Krueger..
The resurrection of Finest City Week was orchestrated by Dan McAllister, former aide to ex-councilwoman Susan Golding; it will be sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce (of which McAllister is a member) and will have as its “official voice” KFMB radio (where McAllister now works as an advertising salesman).
June 27, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-6. Letter expressing hope that San Diego Evening Tribune will expand its overage of Balboa Park Master Plan, by Carol Landsman.
July 2, 1983, San Diego Union, B-4. Higher city tennis fees find no fault among initial users; new policy allows private clubs to operate tennis courts, by Anthony Perry.
At Morley Field, the rates will be $15 a month, $80 for a year, $120 a year for a couple, half price for seniors, and children 18 and under a mere $5 a year. The city’s rates had been $6 a month, $54 a year, $27 for seniors, and no charge for children 18 and under.
The increased fees, it is hoped by city officials, will allow the private clubs to improve maintenance and handling of the courts.
July 7, 1983, San Diego Union, B-2. Move to evict Sierra Club and Citizens Coordinate for Century 3 from House of Hospitality delayed a second time, by Michael Smolens.
During the meeting of the Public Facilities and Recreation Committee yesterday, Councilman Bill Mitchell told Terry O’Hara, president of the board of directors of the House of Hospitality Association, “that it was implied that, politically, you ere directed to kick the Sierra Club and C III out because of their environmental leanings.”
O’Hara replied: “We don’t really have any reason to be political. It’s a business and we must constantly look at best use.”
July 14, 1983, San Diego Tribune, A-1. Cuts in county-allocated funds for museums produce anger, turmoil, by Preston Turegano.
Major museum directors, angered over a reduction in county-allocated funds, predict they will be forced to but back educational and community programs, reduce staffs, freeze salaries and perhaps even increase admission fees just to stay in business over the next year.
July 15, 1983, San Diego Union, D-1. Starlight Opera to stay put, jets and all, by Welton Jones.
“In the beginning, Florida Canyon sounded good,” Reba Brophy, the Starlight president said, “but in two years, the plan hasn’t advanced at all. It may never pass the City Council.”
Also, Brophy and her board sensed that a new facility would require a higher rent and probably a shared tenancy.
So they took another look at their own growth figures, steady since they moved back to the bowl since 1974, and decided to live or die in their own home, presenting family entertainment at relatively low prices.
July 18, 1983, San Diego Union, B-1:4-6. Three-day Italian Cultural Festival in Conference Building beginning July 30.
July 29, 1983, San Diego Union, Food-17:1-5. Renaissance Fair in Organ Pavilion.
August 3, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-2. County supervisors decided to allocate any hotel tax revenues in excess of $750,000 among all county museums instead of just the major ones.
August 4, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-6. William Jones and Gloria McColl, on City Council, urge more attention be given to park-poor areas in open-space spending.
August 14, 1983, San Diego Union, B-1, B-3. Balboa: Park’s next century is slowly taking shape; Master Plan revision fans up old embers.
“Balboa Park is primarily a park to be cherished as a place of natural beauty. Although it is one of the largest parks in the country, the time is coming when the building of hospitals and schoolhouses or even libraries and museums must cease or else we shall have a city there instead of a park.” – George W. Marston, Park benefactor, 1925.
“There are those who think Balboa Park should be nothing but trees and grass. A park is much more than trees and grass, and you’re going to have to do things here you would not want to do in a regular park. Balboa Park is an urban park.” – Steve Estrada, Balboa Park Committee, 1983.
By Lori Weisberg, Staff Writer.
Determining the look of Balboa Park in the 21st century has, in the past year, become an emotional battle pitting park purists, various parochial interests and professional planners against one another.
What transpires over the next several months, as a 20-year master plan is developed for Balboa Park, will mark a turning point in the park’s 115-year history. Regardless of whether every recommendation made in the eventual plan is carried out, it will serve as an important blueprint for guiding the park’s future.
What began in 1868 as a barren, 1,400-acre tract supporting little more than chaparral and sagebrush and serving a city of 3,000 has evolved today into a sprawling urban park in the center of a city that has grown to more than 900,000.
The park not only has emerged as the city’s cultural center but serves as an important recreational area and a country-like getaway, its tree-filled canyons and grassy knolls a welcome refuge from pavement life.
“Balboa Park is almost like a city in itself,” observed Dave Seyfarth, manager of the park. “The unique thing about the park is there really is something here that could interest everybody at one time or another.
“If you could tell me you couldn’t find something here that didn’t interest you, I would think you had a problem — or you just like to sit home and read.”
Because the park has become such an important fixture in the community, its future has become a subject of increasing concern to city officials as well as residents. Over the years, the community has seen parcel after parcel of the original acreage gobbled up by on encroachment after another, including three schools, two freeways, camp facilities and the Naval Hospital. The result has been a whittling down of the park to its present 1,100 acres.
Concern that parkland was being usurped by non-park uses, plus growing and traffic problems within the park, prompted a 1960 master plan study, known as the Bartholomew Plan. Now, 23 years later, the same concerns have inspired a major updating of that plan to guide the park’s development over the next two decades.
“The park isn’t done,” said consultant Ron Pekarek, a landscape architect hired in early 1981 to help the city revise the 1960 plan.
Differing perceptions of what the park ought to be are what have caused some sparks to fly when Pekarek’s proposals have been aired at the meetings of the Balboa Park Committee, which has been soliciting citizens’ view on the developing park.
On September 15, the city’s Park & Recreation Board will get its first look at a written draft of the proposed master plan revisions. They ultimately will go before the City Council for consideration.
Pekarek’s vision for Balboa Park’s future is a broad on that includes increasing open-space area by rearranging the two golf course on the eastern edge of the park, transforming asphalt lots into landscaped plazas, and providing the park with a more defined edge by extending Upas and 28thstreets on its northern and eastern perimeter.
The estimated price tag for the improvements is $104 million, part of which would be raised through revenue bonds that would have to be approved by the voters and repaid from revenues generated by the park. Other possible revenue sources include gas-tax funds, private contributions and grants.
Although there has been considerable disagreement and controversy over specific proposals, it is generally agreed that something has to be done about the twin problems of parking and traffic, which have long frustrated both the park’s tenants and its visitors.
The park, which handles about 12 million visitors a year, is served by a circuitous, confusing road system supported by too few parking spaces to accommodate a growing population.
“Circulation and parking are the No. 1 problem in Balboa Park,” said Steve Estrada, who formerly worked for Pekarek and did the initial master planning work. “You stop anyone in Balboa Park and ask them about the park, and the first thing they’ll say is, ‘I can’t find a parking place.’”
Key among Pekarek’s proposals is a plan to create a better environment for pedestrians in the interior of the park by closing the Laurel Street bridge to cars and replacing two of the parking lots in the Prado-Palisades area with landscaped gardens, colonnades and reflecting pools.
Specifically, the 130-car parking lot in front of the Museum of Art and the 265-car lot behind the Aerospace Theater would be removed and converted to landscaped plazas.
Motorists would gain access to the Prado area by entering from the north at Richmond Drive and Upas and then proceed southward alongside and over State 163. The new access system would require closing the Quince Street and Richmond off ramps for 163, but the two ramp bridges would be retained.
While the proposal has drawn some criticism from museums and other cultural institutions that fear removal of their parking will reduce patronage, Pekarek points out that the idea is not new, simply an endorsement of what was proposed in the Bartholomew Plan but never implemented.
Besides he said the parking that is lost will be replaced with even more, but less visible parking areas, including a proposed 500-car garages in a canyon just southwest of the Museum of Man.
Pekarek also has proposed relocating Starlight Bowl in the northern end of Florida Canyon near the Zoo parking lot, and building another parking structure at the bowl’s current location. That idea was dropped after the theater’s board of directors decided that the amphitheater should remain where it is.
Pekarek, though, still is proposing construction of a 4,500-seat amphitheater in Florida Canyon, but additional parking would be needed.
Another possible source of parking — at least on weekends — is the parking lot that the Navy is building for the new Naval Hospital in Florida Canyon, Pekarek added.
As part of his scheme to create a “pedestrian experience,” Pekarek also envisions expansion of the Spanish Village area to provide a better connection with the Zoo and the Prado area. Shops would be added as well as a restaurant that would generate increased revenue for the park.
The end result, Pekarek said, would be that a visitor to the park, would be able to walk from the Zoo to the Aerospace Museum without ever crossing a street traveled by cars. As far as Pekarek is concerned, that’s important because cars and people in a park mix as poorly as oil and water.”
“Cars smell funny,” he said. “They don’t match the quality of the architecture and the huge investment of the city to reconstruct all the Spanish-Colonial buildings. It’s like parking your car in your living room.”
Bob Arnhym, executive vice president of the Combined Arts and Education Council of San Diego (COMBO) and chairman of the Balboa Park Committee said he became convinced of the need to separate pedestrians from vehicles when he was walking to the Old Globe Theater one evening and noticed a van edging up behind an elderly couple who also were walking.
“Neither on saw the van,” Arnhym said. “The driver leaned on the horn, the man fell to the ground, and it took him 10 minutes to collect himself.”
The idea of turning paved lots in plazas last year prompted a critical letter from a group of the park’s cultural institutions.
The group — known as the Central Balboa Park Association — also was miffed because its 11 institutions had not been consulted in the planning process. In the months since the group began meeting, their criticism has softened, although parking continues to be a critical concern.
“Our group was not formed to be a thorn in anyone’s side or to stop what the city is doing,” said John Thelan, president of the board of directors of the Natural History Museum and chairman of the association. “From the discussions we’ve had to date, the members of the association probably would be opposed to any substantial reduction in parking unless there was an alternative that provided for equal or better access to the central area of the park.”
Doug Sharon, director of the Museum of Man, is more emphatic in his reaction to Pekarek’s proposals for redesigning parking and closing the Laurel Street Bridge. The cultural institutions face some tough economic times already and to take actions that would make it more difficult for visitors to reach the museums could prove financially damaging, Sharon said.
“People are already used to coming into the center of the park,” he said. “We’re in the era of the car and that’s not going to change. Balboa Park is a natural resource and it’s a cultural preserve.
“We feel that the master plan is putting more emphasis on natural enhancement and is ignoring the fact that we have 11 institutions that people need access to.”
Enhancement of the so-called “natural” areas of the park, though, is what Pekarek is aiming for in his master plan. Toward that end, he is proposing to return the southeast corner of the park, where a nine-hole golf course now is located, to open space.
The golf course would, in turn, be relocated northward to the Pershing Drive landfill and extend up to the southern edge of the velodrome. In addition, the existing 18-hole golf course would undergo a major redesign to improve profitability and playability, Pekarek said.
The plan, he added, ties in with a proposal being considered by the city Water Utilities Department to develop a water-treatment plant in the park that would use treated sewer water from the northern park area to irrigate the entire park. Proposed golf course, lakes, as well as a planned lake in the center of Florida Canyon, would be incorporated into the million-gallon-a-day water-treatment system, he said.
“We’re spending a quarter-million dollars a year to keep Balboa Park green,” Pekarek said. “This system would probably pay for itself in six years and then cut current costs one-third.”
Another open-space area would be created in the northwest corner of the park where Boy Scout and Girl Scout camps are now headquartered. Under Pekarek’s plan, those facilities would be relocated to another park, possibly the Mission Trails Regional Park.
While those proposals have generated some dispute, clearly one of the most controversial of Pekarek’s plans is his scheme for extending Upas and 28th streets to make them through streets. The plan calls for extending Upas Street from Sixth Avenue to its current connection at Alabama by way of two bridges, one crossing State 163 and the second going into Florida Canyon.
The plan for 28th Street would extend it from Palm to Grape streets by crossing into Switzer Canyon on the eastern edge of what would be the newly designed 18-hole golf course.
As Pekarek sees it, the newly aligned streets would not only give the park a perimeter but would improve access for both visitors and the police. IT would make the more secluded areas of the park less intimidating for people who are fearful of venturing into them at night.
However, some neighbors of the park say Pekarek’s plan would increase traffic, destroy the park’s character and create a barrier between them and what has become their backyards.
“There is an interaction that happens on this side of the park that doesn’t happen on the west side because of the park encroaching into our lives,” said Andrew Makarushka, gazing out across the fourth fairway of the gold course from the deck of his Juniper Avenue home. “It they start constructing bridges and bulldozers, they’re going to destroy what has been in a natural state for 100 years or more.”
City Councilman Uvaldo Martinez, whose district includes Balboa Park, sides with residents who have protested the street extension, saying that he has not seen evidence supporting the need for a perimeter road.
“Is it important for the east and west parts of the park to be connected?” he asked. “Is it really going to make that much difference in 25 years if they’re not connected>”
According to Arnhym, the question really comes down to how one views the park, and shouldn’t be seen as the exclusive province of any one group of people.
“The visitor sees Balboa Park as a national park,” Arnhym said. “For someone from Bonita or San Ysidro, it’s a regional park. Those who live around the park, see it as a neighborhood park.
“If I live across from the park, I will fight to the last drop of blood against increased parking and access — because I don’t need them. But if I live in Del Cerro, I’ll fight for better freeway access and connector roads.”
Beyond the question of access, Pekarek’s final plan also will address how the city should use the land and buildings that the Navy is turning over to the city in exchange for property in Florida Canyon it is getting to build a new hospital.
Pekarek has suggested that the buildings facing Park Boulevard be recycled as offices or used to house various cultural and community activities. His idea would be to transfer the functions served by some of the buildings in the Palisades area, like the Balboa Park Club and conference building, to the old Navy Hospital structures, allowing the museums to expand into the Palisades section. Pekarek also is proposing a large “super gym” in the Morley Field sports complex to replace the municipal gymnasium currently next to the Starlight Bowl.
Whether Pekarek’s proposals ultimately are approved by the City Council in their current form, much less ever implemented, is the big question mark. There are some who believe the revised master plan will suffer the same fate that befell the Bartholomew Plan, most of which never became reality.
Arnhym, however, said he is confident that this most recent planning effort will be more successful.
“I think there is enough affection for Balboa Park to authorize the dollars we propose to spend,” he said. ” I truly believe that. It’s not like we’re turning into a Knott’s Berry Farm. That will never happen.”
August 17, 1983, San Diego Union, D-6. Big plans for Starlight Bowl, by Welton Jones.
A $2 million remodeling of the 48-year-old Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park will be financed with funds raised by the San Diego Civic Light Opera Association, Reba Brophy, president of the association, announced yesterday.
One-fourth of that amount already has been pledged, she said, including a $200,000 donation from the James S. Copley Foundation to pay for new rehearsal and dressing room areas in the 4,325-seat amphitheater.
If architect Gerald Garapich’s art deco plans are approved by the city, owners of the facility, reconstruction of the bowl’s stage area would be accomplished following next summer’s Starlight season.
August 19, 1983, San Diego Union, 44:1-5. San Diego Civic Light Opera eyeing construction of a state-of-the-art amphitheater in Florida Canyon.
September 12, 1983, San Diego Tribune, D-1. Best bargain in town might be “free Tuesday” museum admission first Tuesday of each month in park, by Jack Williams.
Before July, free days were not such a rarity. They were offered at the museums every week — Wednesday for the Museum of Man, Thursday for the Museum of Natural History, Tuesday for the rest.
But the City Council decided to limit the free day at the one to once a month, following a campaign headed by Edwin McKellar, executive director of the Aerospace Museum.
September 14, 1983, San Diego Union, B-3:2-6. Angry opposition to Ron Pekarek’s proposals for Balboa Park master plan from neighbors bordering directly on park who object to proposals to turn 28th and Upas streets into major peripheral thoroughfares.
October 2, 1983, San Diego Union, B-15. Zoo objects to theater in canyon
A proposal to build an amphitheater in Florida Canyon is being opposed by the Zoological Society of San Diego because its development “could be fatal to the financial health of the Zoo.”
Sheldon Campbell, Zoological Society president, said he objects to portions of a proposed master plan for Balboa Park.
Campbell has written to Ron Pekarek, a landscape architect, working on revision of the 1960 plan, telling him that a development of the amphitheater ” could be fatal to the financial health of the Zoo.”
Campbell said the society also objects to the proposed redevelopment of the Spanish Village because of the impact on Zoo parking and possible traffic problems.
Zoo officials also opposed relocation of the merry-go-round because of traffic problems and construction of a perimeter road that would take a slice of Zoo land now being used for research and breeding programs.
The proposal that would result in all roads leading to the Zoo parking lot is also under fire by Zoo officials.
Campbell said society officials are concerning themselves only with aspects of the plan that might impact the Zoo.
“We don’t want our parking lot impacted under any circumstances,” Campbell said. You don’t build a 5,000-seat amphitheater and use it only at night. You use it during the day. You’ve got to fund it somehow.”
Campbell explained that the Zoo runs in the red for seven months of the year, but makes it up with the remaining five months. During holidays, as many as 3,000 to 4,000 visitors have to be turned away because of lack of parking. “Lord knows how many are just discouraged from coming,” he said.
The $104 million proposed development plan for the 1,100-acre park is currently under public review. Pekarek was hired by the city more than two years ago to update a 1960 master plan for the park.
October 17, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-10. Letter, We need convention center to help ensure the kind of support the San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park, Balboa Park need for us to enjoy, by Jack McDonald.
October 22, 1983, San Diego Tribune, C-1. Councilman Uvaldo Martinez seeks review of Balboa Park plan: “Perhaps the council will endorse Mr. Pekarek’s philosophy, but I doubt it.”
October 23, 1983, Los Angeles Times, II-2, 3. Letter, La Jolla Town Council opposes sale of food products on public beaches and in parks contiguous to beaches, by David M. Ish: La Jolla does not want to be another Coney Island or Venice Beach.
October 24, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-3. Antique gold and jewelry stolen from Natural History Museum: The thief, working by cover of night, slipped into Balboa Park’s Natural History Museum after shattering a rear window, picked a pocketful of antique gold coins and jewelry – some more than a century old – left through the broken window and vanished into the wee hours.
That was January 12, 1980. Neither loot nor looter was ever found.
October 26, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-10. Letter stating that there is no price break at San Diego Zoo, by Mary Deans Wallbank, Temecula: Anyone having a medium-sized family contemplating a visit to the San Diego Zoo had better get ready to dig deep into his pockets. The zoo has now become a pastime for those of either independent means or the tourist trade.
November 11, 1983, San Diego Union, B-1:1-4. Central Balboa Park Association, consisting of 11 cultural and educational institutions, newly formed to defend interests.
November 17, 1983, Joint Meeting of Park & Recreation Board and Balboa Park Committee for a public hearing on the Balboa Park Development and Management Plan – Transportation and Access.
November 17, 1983, Paper read by Richard Amero to Joint Meeting of Park & Recreation Board and Balboa Park Committee.
November 22, 1983, San Diego Tribune, D-1. The Timken Gallery, arts, aesthetic sanctuary, by Zenia Cleigh: Out of all the cultural refuges in San Diego, the tiny Timken Art Gallery in Balboa Park offers a contemplative climate that is among the most rare.
This is the place for the spirit which needs to be restored, the mind which must immerse itself in beauty in order to be refreshed.
There are no crowds of school children shuffling through popular exhibits, no docent tours wandering by to break the spell, no drone from an educational film in the room next door. And no admission price to block the way.
There is only the glory of Rembrandt’s intensely human Saint Bartholomew staring down from the walls, only the romance of a Mediterranean seaport by Vernet, only the playful seductiveness of the great “Lovers in a Park” by Boucher.
The contrasts are distinct between the populist San Diego Museum of Art next door, with its emphasis on traveling exhibitions to ensure financial survival, and the free, aristocratic Timken, endowed with three fat trust funds (details of which are kept secret) and a sense of its own worth.
So it is telling that the Timken’s most recent acquisition is none other than the affable and scholarly Grant Holcomb II, 39, hired two years ago as curator of exhibitions at the San Diego Museum of Art. He takes up new duties as associate director of the Timken December 1.
November 22, 1983, San Diego Tribune, D-3. The Putnam sisters (Anne and Amy), proper spinster ladies, were crazy about art, by Zenia Cleigh: The two ladies, who died here in 1962 and 1958 respectively, were the daughters of Elbert H. Putnam, a wealthy New Englander who accumulated a fortune in manufacturing and banking..
December 15, 1983, Paper read by Richard Amero to Park & Recreation Board hearing on the Preliminary Plan for Balboa Park concerning the democratic objectives of Balboa Park.
As a center-city park, Balboa Park has a special purpose. This purpose was defined by the 1957 Balboa Park Citizens’ Study Committee as follows;
Balboa Park as a municipal endeavor should provide services for the community which the individual, the family or the neighborhood cannot afford to provide for themselves. Cultural, educational and recreational activities in the park should be open to the public. Exclusive use of buildings and areas by limited interest groups at the expense of the public as a whole should not be permitted.
While the Pekarek Group proposes new uses of Balboa Park for special interests, it overlooks its democratic objective as stressed by the Balboa Park Citizen’s Study Committee.
If we translate the objectives of the 1957 Balboa Park Citizens’ Study Committee into practice, we must conclude that the increased subdivision and urbanization of the park should halt. Further talk about institutional, cultural, commercial and theatrical use of the park should cease. Surplus and unsafe buildings in the Palisades and on the former Naval Hospital plant should be removed.
The historic landmark status accorded the central part of Balboa Park and the soon-to-be historic register classification of former Naval Hospital buildings represents a misuse of power by an anonymous group of preservationists-at-all-costs. These monomaniac people have taken it on themselves to preserve buildings that are inharmonious and to dictate restricted uses of Balboa Park.
Bureaucrats in state and national governments encourage preservationists to advance weak claims of architectural and historical merit because they want to enhance their positions. They care not a jot about the impact of these buildings on their environment or about the countervailing claims of architects and historians.
Arguments used by preservationists are false. To wit: buildings along El Prado and in the Palisades lack whatever cohesiveness and planned variety they once had; a rebuilt structure is not the structure it replaces; the stripped buildings in the Palisades lack the fretwork, frescoes and hanging gardens that once gave them distinction; John Irving Gill was not the architect of the Administration Building next to the California Quadrangle, and former Naval Hospital buildings have nothing to do with Spanish-Moorish or Mexican architecture and are insipid in appearance.
In 1961, Robert E. Des Lauriers, president of the San Diego Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, wrote:
The chapter strongly believes in the necessity of maintaining the abundant landscaping as the integrating central theme, with buildings integrated and supplemented thereto. Building design thus becomes a subordinate consideration in planning the park.
In 1974, John B. Mock, a San Diego architect, wrote:
The beauties of the land within Balboa Park are often more responsible for cries of “save the lovely Spanish Revival architecture” than the architecture itself.
The public goes to the central mesa of Balboa Park — as it does to other areas in the park — to enjoy its free outdoor attractions, a situation that is no different today that it was during San Diego’s great expositions in 1915-16 and 1935-36. The number of people participating in out-of-doors entertainments at the Organ Pavilion, lily pond, Pepper Grove and patio of the House of Pacific Relations surpasses the number of people who pay to go inside museums.
By stopping the concentration of buildings and institutions on the central mesa of Balboa Park you will satisfy those institutions who want “out” from the inane competition for the tourist dollar; you will not take money away from recreation centers, swimming pools, nature trails, picnic grounds, ball fields desired by ordinary park visitors; and you will go far toward solving Balboa Park’s parking and traffic problems. You may not please people who go to the park for its theaters and museums, but you will please the majority of citizens who pay a portion of the bills for museums and theaters they do not visit rather than for the park improvements they prefer. People of moderate means do not want to finance upper-class amusements that lead to the diminution of their common pleasure ground.
To repeat the objectives of the 1957 Balboa Park Citizens Study Committee: A great center-city park, like Balboa Park, exists to enhance the moral and physical well being of the whole community and to provide a playground for the people. It does not exist for one privileged class to so arrange that the less privileged are kept out.
December 21, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-1. Letter, Woodchoppers are stealing Christmas trees, by Jerry Ray.
Woodchopper, you and yours will enjoy a fresh Christmas tree for two or three weeks. San Diego City, Balboa Park, Golden Hill community and the users of Golden Hill Park have lost that tree forever.
December 21, 1983, San Diego Tribune, E-6. EDITORIAL: Benign neglect of Balboa Park: Balboa Park is a beautiful woman on whose emerald skirts generations of children have played. In her Spanish mantilla are woven the cultural institutions of San Diego
The park is a proud beauty, 115 years old. And a selfless one, trying to say young through constant care and refinement, by saying yes to the dreamers who created museums and theaters and the zoo, and by serving as a park for the people who use her fields and facilities for their individual pursuits.
Today the heart of Balboa Park is going through a renaissance. Through the leadership of the Committee of 100, two Spanish Colonial buildings — the Food and Beverage Building and the Electric Building — have been rebuilt, and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion has been restored. After two disastrous fires, the Aerospace Museum has been moved into the restored Ford Building and the Old Globe Theater has been rebuilt. The zoo is expanding.
But Balboa Park in its entirety — the land and all that grows on it — is suffering neglect. Parkland is being eaten away. The new Navy Hospital has been built on land once devoted to open park. The zoo arbitrarily cut down beautiful eucalyptus trees to pave over the city-owned parking lot and has only planted a few wispy trees to make up for the damage.
But these are not the only problems in Balboa Park. Roads are clogged by traffic. Bums sleep in ravines. Muggers lurk in low brush. The watering system, which keeps this wonderland alive, is old an deteriorated. Proposition J of 1978 severely limited city spending, and the City Council chose to spend more money on police than parks. Proposition 13 of 1978, which helped people with fixed incomes keep their houses, put Balboa Park and many of its tenant museums on a tight budget. Financially, Balboa Park is like a proud old mother living on an outdated pension without resources to maintain basic necessities while her children, seeking their own goals, forget their mother’s needs.
Case in point. Active community groups raise money for every institution in the park — from preserving Spanish architecture to helping the zoo protect endangered species. But there is no organization we know of which raises money for the park’s general welfare. The major institutions which use park buildings and fields do not pay rent o their park buildings and fields do not pay rent on their facilities. The park is free to anyone who cars to use it, whether the person lives in San Diego and pays taxes, or comes from Iowa or Tijuana.
A free and open park is what we have been given, it is what we must preserve. Without free public access, the park would fall into disuse, the institutions would wither and die.
But how can we keep the park free and open when its traditional source of funds has dried up? When its institutions are themselves fighting for financial survival and must raise admission prices? When the number of users has grown astronomically, coming from all over the United States and Mexico, but the park’s tax base remains local and is severely limited?
The threat to Balboa Park comes not from spite but from neglect. People think the park is for their specific use, but few are taking responsibility to ensure its survival for all uses. People organize to fight an institution that threatens to take away on inch of park, but they won’t get together to develop open park land in unreclaimed areas.
We need civic activism by groups such as the Committee of 100, to preserve the buildings and institutions which use Balboa Park. And we also need an additional, concerted commitment to make sure that the park that houses these institutions can maintain itself and successfully preserve its beauty in the face of unprecedented demands being up on its roads, its grassy areas, its parking space, its water supply.
There can be no such commitment without adopting and carrying through a comprehensive plan for preservation and renovation of Balboa Park from now until the year 2000. The plan must address all the factors that make a park work — from gardens to financing, cars to pedestrians, security to harmony among institutions. It must dare to anger interest groups for the sake of serving the park as a whole. It must preserve old traditions and dream new dreams; for Balboa Park would be nothing without its visionaries who saw Spanish campaniles in scrubland, and its preservationists, who seek to preserve flimsy plaster fantasies and convert them to permanent form.
Such a plan has been commissioned by the City Council and drafted by the Pekarek Group, a highly respected local landscape architecture firm. While we do not agree with all its proposals, the Balboa Park Development and Management Plan concentrates all the issues involving the park into one forum, so that they may be examined, debated and acted upon. This is an accomplishment, but it will mean nothing if the plan is allowed to gather dust. We will examine the plan, its critics and present our own ideas in the next two days
In 1983, Balboa Park remains a proud beauty. But if the neglect continues, what will she be like next year — or in the year 2000? Before we look backward with regret, let’s move forward with commitment to preserve and renew the mother of San Diego’s parks.
December 22, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-10. EDITORIAL: Balboa Park plan and its critics: Balboa Park was created in a day when environmental impact statements were unheard of, when Kate Sessions planted trees with her own seedlings and merchant George Marston paid Eastern park planners to model Balboa Park after the parks of the great American cities.
Those days seem over, but the splendid park they helped create endures. The tendency now is to day, “Don’t change a thing!” But San Diego is changing: 12 million people visit Balboa Park each year; millions of cars grind through its roads; a new Naval Hospital is being built. If the park doesn’t adapt to change, it will be crushed.
To preserve the park into the next century, planning is needed today. The Pekarek Group, a local landscape architecture firm, has been commissioned by the City Council to do the first comprehensive plan for Balboa Park since the Bartholomew Plan was developed in 1960. The Bartholomew plan had high aims but failed to achieve many of them, largely because of opposition from special-interest groups and the lack of a workable means to fund projects.
Ron Pekarek, a thoughtful and tough-skinned planner, with experience in coastal parks and highway landscaping, has coordinated consultants in the creation of a 3-inch preliminary report. Pekarek shares some of the Bartholomew Plan’s goals, but he has built funding proposals into his plan, including an enterprise fund to raise money for the park. The price tag for the Pekarek Plan is $104 million — not an impossible sum at all for America’s seventh city.
Pekarek proposes three primary sources of revenue to be generated by user fees — parking fees, golf course fees and commercial leases, mainly for food services. He favors new commercial activities in the park to generate revenue which could be used to finance revenue bonds for the park. He suggests use of parking fees to finance the construction of new parking garages.
Pekarek would pursue the principal goal of the Bartholomew plan that was never achieved — to take autos out of the center of the park. He would close Cabrillo Bridge, El Prado and the Palisades areas to cars and create a dramatic pedestrian esplanade from Spanish Village to the Aerospace Museum. There would be a new multi-level parking garage in nearby Archery Canyon, with access via a new road alongside Route 163. This and other garages would increase parking capacity by half, after El Prado and Palisades area parking was eliminated.
Pekarek sees an urban park, not an untouched canyon and scrub environment. His definition of an urban park includes much open park land. By moving the parked cars out of the plazas, by moving the Boy and Girl Scout and Campfire headquarters out of the park, by landscaping the landfill areas and moving the nine-hole golf course onto the landfill, he would add 115 acres of usable open space.
He would close off Florida Drive north of the new Naval Hospital and build new access roads in peripheral areas. He would build a waste-water reclamation plant in a remote canyon and create a 14-acre reservoir, a 28-acre picnic area, and a new amphitheater bowl in Florida Canyon.
Development would be concentrated in areas such as Spanish Village, where a restaurant plaza would be created. A new direct access to State Route 94 freeway would be built for Naval Hospital and the south half of Florida Canyon via 25th Street instead of the present route via 26th Street.
Pekarek’s plan has met resistance from virtually every institution and user group that would be affected by the changes. People living on the perimeter of the park are up in arms that roads would be built to open up the park. This is self-interest and, though understandable, should not stand in the way of making the park accessible to the entire region.
More serious are the objections of 11 institutions in the park core. They fear banning autos from existing roads and parking areas could cut them off from access to their customers and volunteers. They want to keep Cabrillo Bridge and the museum parking lots open, until equivalent access roads and parking facilities have been built. They also fear more intensive uses for the park would create more traffic jams. These concerns must be dealt with and a solution found before a plan is adopted.
The only major group without a vested interest in the park which has presented a comprehensive critique of the Pekarek Plan is Citizens Coordinate Century III, a volunteer organization. Citizens Coordinate supports the principle of a long-term plan but disagrees strongly with the Pekarek principle that user fees should pay for the park. The group would like the park to be free, like the Public Library and not like Sea World, where general admission now is $10.95. Instead, Citizens Coordinate has proposed a small surcharge on tickets and goods sold by institutions in the park. This would mean that no one would have to pay parking fees — a de factor admission charge — but if you bought a ticket or a hot dog, a small charge would be added onto the price and the money would be given to maintain the park. For the core area, Citizens Coordinate proposes a compromise plan that would eliminate one lane of road from Cabrillo Bridge, putting pedestrians on the other lane. A one-way road would run from Cabrillo Bridge through parking areas and exit on President’s Way.
If your head is spinning after all these proposals and counter-proposals, go take a walk through Balboa Park and see what you think yourself. Tomorrow, we will give our view.
December 23, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-6. EDITORIAL: Balboa Park from now to 2000: We seem absorbed in the coming year with the acceleration of growth in outlying areas, while the heart of the city molders. Does Balboa Park have any friends today, or have special interests so fragmented support that the park as a whole is friendless?
We don’t think it is. But it’s time people stopped saying “I love Balboa Park,” while blithely neglecting it. San Diegans must take a fresh look at Balboa Park and see more than their own self-interest. It’s time the park had friend of its own.
We have studied proposals for Balboa Park and here are The Tribune’s recommendations:
- We support the concept of a far-seeing 20-year plan for Balboa Park. To keep the park as it is, is to condemn it to decline.
- We encourage San Diegans to help preserve the whole park and all that flourishes therein and not just defend their own pet institutions or activity.
- The Pekarek Plan is an excellent foundation. But community and institutional input is crucial to draft a final plan.
- We support the principle of a free and open park. Admission fees to the park proper are out of the question. Parking fees are a “de facto” admission fee and should be avoided if possible except perhaps in a few high-use areas.
- The objective of eliminating cars from the core of the park is a good one. To achieve it will take years and millions of dollars, but we must move in that direction. If the money isn’t going to come from parking fees, it was have to come from other sources, possibly a general obligation bond issue.
- In the interim period, the compromise solution proposed by Citizens Coordinate for Century III to restrict cars to one land from Cabrillo Bridge to President’s Drive, deserves consideration.
- We generally support measures to create more open areas in the park. Each square foot of new construction must be offset by an equal or greater amount of reclaimed parkland.
- We specifically support Ron Pekarek’s plans to move the nine-hole golf course and open up park land near Golden Hill, cut roads on the northern and eastern perimeters of the park and improve access on 25thstreet, build a 14-acre reservoir, create picnic areas in Florida Canyon and open up more park land and trails all over the park.
- We share the concern of 11 core institutions about parking and access but encourage them to look forward toward solutions for the next 20 years — not just today’s needs.
- The eastern side of the park should get more attention. Trees should be planted now. Developing the park on the neglected east side could be a crucial means to help revitalize North Park and East San Diego and reduce crime in the park.
- The mayor should appoint a task force, such as for the convention center, to search for new funding measures to implement the proposed Balboa Park plan. It should consider the alternatives proposed by Pekarek, City Manager Ray Blair and Citizens Coordinate for Century III and others and come up with a workable set of financing tools that the mayor can sell to the community.
- We support creation of a foundation or enterprise fund to raise millions of dollars to “Save Balboa Park.” People should have a way to give gifts and endowments specifically to the park. We encourage institutions in the park, which charge admission but do not pay rent to agree to levy a 5 percent surcharge on their fees to go to maintenance of the whole park.
- We support the proposal of the city manager’s office to earmark a greater share of the hotel-motel room tax to Balboa Park.
- The City Council should adopt a comprehensive plan that includes a workable funding play and set a timetable for its execution. Balboa Park must become a priority or it will become a casualty.
There is a fig tree near Spanish Village where children plan. It is not native. Its limbs, tough as elephant skin, are held together by wire. Its roots are above the ground, upon them toddlers learn to walk, reaching toward the heels of their elder brothers and sisters who have learned to climb, to swing, to look out at the Spanish towers above the trees. Picnickers spread their blankets in its shade and theatergoers walking out of playhouses at night, see the stars in its crown. The tree, like the park where it grows, is a transplanted natural wonder, a thing of beauty and usefulness. There isn’t much you can do to improve it. But it can surely be destroyed.
We must not take Balboa Park for granted. We must rescue it from our selfish love, which has become neglect. We must plan for the future, not only on the outskirts of the city, but in our heartland park. We must compromise our differences and create a plan that benefits the park as a whole. We must remember that no one owns Balboa Park; we all own it. We must show political leaders that we will not stand by and let Balboa Park go down. We must find people like Kate Sessions and George Marston and Bea Evenson to plant seedlings, contribute money and, most of all, provide leadership.
We must not allow the park, which has given of itself from its gnarled roots to its blossoming branches, to wither and die in our midst.
December 23, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-6. Central Balboa Park Association views new plan, by John Thelan, president of the Central Balboa Park Association: The Central Balboa Park Association consists of non-profit organizations and institutions which operate the San Diego Zoo, museums, performing arts theaters and other facilities within central Balboa Park.
These facilities and their collections represent contributions of time and money annually by many thousands and several generations of San Diegans. The proper care and handling of these facilities and collections, as well as provisions for convenient and safe access for all visitors is vital.
The current master-planning effort is timely due to the recent surge of nearby downtown-redevelopment activities and overall continued development of San Diego as a major city. However, the association believes that during the master-planning effort insufficient attention has been given to the following:
- In initiating the master-planning effort, the City Council directed that Balboa Park be made economically self-sufficient. Balboa Park, in addition to serving residents of both the city and county, serves as a major destination point to out-of-state and foreign visitors. Therefore, in determining whether Balboa Park is self-sufficient, a comprehensive economic analysis of the park’s impact on the generation of tax revenues should be prepared.
- Many of the proposals for improved vehicular and pedestrian activities contained within the draft plan will be very difficult, if not impossible to implement, due to environmental, physical and financial constraints. Therefore, substantial time and effort could be expended pursuing proposals which have a limited potential for successful implementation. Accordingly, all proposals should be carefully phased to avoid premature disruption of on-going operations of the museums and other facilities. Also, the plan should include a short-term program to immediately provide: (i ) additional parking in the central area; (ii) improved signage within and outside of Balboa Park; (iii) improved crime prevention.
The association welcomes the opportunities that the master-planning effort is providing and looks forward to making specific suggestions as the process continues.
December 23, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-7. History of Bartholomew Plan
Harland Bartholomew, a St. Louis architect, drafted a master plan for Balboa Park in 1960. It was adopted by the City Council in 1961 as a 25-year plan.
Twenty-two years later, only about half of its recommendations have been realized. Some of them generated intense opposition. Others depended on conventional financing sources that dried up as voters rejected park bond issues and approved ballot measures to limit city taxing and spending. The building of a new Naval Hospital in the park and the plan to return 37 prime acres of the old hospital site to park use were developments not anticipated by the Bartholomew Plan. Its most daring proposal — to eliminate automobiles from the park — remains a glint in the park planner’s eye.
What happened to the Bartholomew Plan?
Bartholomew’s proposals to improve the zoo’s accessibility, add tennis courts to Morley Field, enlarge picnic areas, develop more senior citizen facilities and provide park facilities near Golden Hill were fully implemented.
Bartholomew’s plan to improve the museum complex by tearing down some buildings, renovating others and removing autos from the entire Prado area met with mixed success. Traffic was eliminated on El Prado (Laurel Street) from the Plaza de Panama to Park Boulevard, but cars and parking lots continue to jam the rest of the area. The Fine Arts Gallery gained a new wing, but the Museum of Man remains in the same building.
One part of the Bartholomew Plan which was not accomplished at all was its recommendation to tear down most of the buildings in the Palisades area. These are now protected by designation as a National Historic Landmark and probably will never be removed.
Bartholomew’s plan to make Upas a through street, linking the eastern and western parts of the park, was never accomplished. The plan to close Pershing Drive was also not accomplished. Instead, it was expanded into a major through street.
Bartholomew’s goal of making the Prado a sanctuary of greenery and fountains insulated from cars was torpedoed by the museums and theaters in the area, which depend on easy access and parking. This conflict between cultural versus outdoor uses of the park core remains today, so far the museums and theaters have kept the upper hand.
The voters passed a $23.8 million bond issue in 1966 to implement road circulation, landscaping, lighting and other parts of the Bartholomew Plan. In 1968 a $3.5 million park bond issue was passed. But that was the last bond issue for the park.
In quick succession, the voters of the city turned down bond issue proposals of $2.8 million for the Aerospace Museum and for the Fine Arts Gallery in 1971, of $5 million to reconstruct the Electric Building and $1.7 million to remodel the Ford Building in 1972, and of $25 million for park and recreation and $22.5 million for park reserves in 1973.
Since then, no new general obligation park bond issues have been proposed. But extensive reconstruction of park buildings has been accomplished in the last decade, mainly through private donations and federal grants.
December 23, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-7.
Citizen’s view of new park plan, by Clare B. Crane: Balboa Park clearly needs a new master plan. The existing (Bartholomew) plan was adopted in 1961 and changes in San Diego’s population, land use and transportation require changes in the park. The Pekarek Plan for Balboa Park, now being reviewed by the Park and Recreation Board, contains over 50 specific projects for development throughout the park. Citizens Coordinate for Century III (C-3) supports the concept of comprehensive (instead of piecemeal) planning for Balboa Park, and we support most of the major recommendations contained in the Pekarek Plan.
In regard to transportation, we support the concept of developing an intra-park shuttle bus service and extending the trolley along Park Boulevard. Other suggestions contained in the Pekarek Plan to expand public transportation and reduce the need for roads and parking lots within the park should be actively pursued.
In regard to funding the necessary improvements and continuing maintenance of Balboa Park, Citizens Coordinate suggests that a small surcharge be added to every sale and fee now being charged by institutions throughout the park and the money be earmarked for expenditures only within the park. This suggestion ties in with the Pekarek proposals for an “Enterprise Fund.”
In regard to land use and buildings, in general, we believe that Balboa Park already has enough buildings (some would say too many) to serve the area’s cultural and recreational needs and that the lack of sufficient open-space areas (where people can picnic, jog, saunter or just relax in the sunshine and fresh air) is the major need to be met.
Therefore, we support the redevelopment of the east side of Balboa Park by relocating the golf courses (to the landfill near Morley Field) and recycling the land for picnic areas, walking and jogging trails, and recreational areas that will provide the neighborhoods south and east of the park with opportunities and vistas similar to those the western side now provides for its neighborhoods. We support the realignment of 25th Street, which will improve access to the park and, at the same time, provide a soccer field in the Golden Hill section of the park.
Closing the north end of Florida Street and redeveloping the open space thus made available into picnic areas, nature trails and passive recreational space is an excellent proposal and should be implemented as soon as possible, because it makes the largest amount of open space immediately available for the smallest expenditure of funds.
Because we believe that open space is a more critical need for Balboa Park than new buildings, we oppose most of the Pekarek recommendations to construct new buildings (such as an amphitheater in Florida Canyon, a gymnasium at Morley Field, two large meeting halls on the old Navy Hospital site, a multipurpose building next to the Organ Pavilion and parking garages on the zoo parking lot) and we opposed recommendations to expand existing buildings (Spanish Village, the House of Pacific Relations and the War Memorial Building). However, we support the proposal to build a restaurant at Marston Point (and to demolish the former fire-alarm building in that area) and we support construction of a parking structure in Archery Canyon in order to “pedestrianize” a portion of the Prado and Palisades plazas.
The Pekarek proposal to ban all automobile traffic from Cabrillo Bridge and the plazas is too drastic a measure, purchased at the cost of destroying valuable parkland at the northwest corner of the park (by extending Upas Street) and making access to the plazas difficult and expensive for elderly and handicapped visitors. Citizens Coordinate has therefore made an alternate proposal, which calls for closing half of each plaza to automobile traffic and routing cars one way through the plazas so that the other auto lane can be developed for use by pedestrians and cyclists.
Balboa Park is San Diego’s community center. It is also, as a prime tourist attraction, an important economic asset. Balboa Park deserves the best: a comprehensive plan that cherishes the pedestrian instead of the automobile and meets our need for space instead of structures.
December 23, 1983, San Diego Tribune, B-7.
City Manager Ray Blair’s perspective on park plan: City Manager Ray Blair says, “With or without a park plan, there is no way to avoid large capital and operations expenses for Balboa Park . . . But I don’t think the public will let us let Balboa Park go down.”
Blair said: “The budget for maintenance of Balboa Park has rise in real dollars, but maintenance is at a lower level than pre-Proposition 13, as are most maintenance programs at other city parks. The budget is totally insufficient to fund the capital improvements needed for the park.”
Proposition 13 and Proposition J of 1978 restrict the ability of the city to pay for park improvements, he said. Projects have had to be deferred. New financing is needed. Blair said possible alternatives are:
- Earmark more revenues from the hotel-motel room tax.
- Ask the voters to approve a district wide assessment. This would not be a value-based property tax. It would be a flat fee of small amount for each home or business.
- Promote public-private partnerships with development concessions and long-term leases, as has been done in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
- Issue revenue bonds to build parking structures, to be paid off with revenues from parking fees.
- Ask the voters to approve a general obligation bond issue, such as the 1966 bond issue.
- Establish a foundation to raise money for Balboa Park — not for individual resident institutions.
Blair calls the Pekarek Plan “a far-reaching proposal.” He will make his own detailed recommendations in January. But, in general, he is supportive of a long-term plan for improvements in Balboa Park.
December 25, 1983, San Diego Union, F-1.
House of Hospitality can now put its best face forward, by Roger Showley: A restored facade on Balboa Park’s House of Hospitality is the Committee of 100’s Christmas gift to the city, with promises of further improvements to the rest of the building as funds are raised.
Using the newest technology as well as traditional procedures, contractors repaired crumbling piers, replaced termite-ridden beams and stripped off 12 coats of paint on the west entrance of the building.
“For years, people have talked about restoration,” said Patricia DeMarce, president of the Committee of 100, which for 16 years has championed the preservation of the park’s exposition buildings. “But out of all those studies, we still didn’t get any pieces (of ornamentation) up there to replace those that were in such bad shape. What gives me pleasure is to see that we got some results.”
Designed 70 years ago, the two and three-story “Foreign Liberal Arts Building” began life as a temporary structure for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition but has cheated death ever since. The edifice has served as a military hospital in the two world wards and as a club house for the city’s arts and cultural institutions. The 54,600-square foot structure also is home for Balboa Park’s only public restaurant, the Café del Rey Moro, as well as meeting rooms and a banquet-assembly hall.
Some of the original exposition buildings have been demolished and others have been restored or reconstructed, Now, perhaps, years of neglect are ending for the House of Hospitality.
The Committee of 100, which raised money to reconstruct the Casa del Prado, Casa de Balboa and Spreckels Organ Pavilion, approached the House of Hospitality differently. The committee hired contractors and architects to complete the project rather than simply giving the city money to tackle the $31,000 first phase.
David R. Roberts, deputy director of the Park and Recreation Department, welcomed this approach, saying it saved up to 30 percent in overhead expenses normally incurred in capital improvement projects. Similar procedures were used on the expansion of the San Diego Museum of Art and replacement of the Old Globe Theater. Special insurance had to be obtained by the committee and its contractors before the work began.
Roberts said the building always has been considered the most expensive to rebuild because it has the most ornamentation of any still standing in the park. According to a 1979 study, it could cost upward of $2 million alone to arrest the decay in the facade that decades of patchwork repairs have failed to halt. Even then, an earthquake or fire could level the building instantly.
DeMarce said her committee — now composed of about 2,000 dues-paying members — decided that a phased approach to the building was better than nothing at all. The first phase came on the western entrance to the building into the patio containing a fountain and sculpture by Donal Hord. The ornamentation was so fragile that it appeared it could topple onto unsuspecting visitors at any moment.
The committee hired Gaslamp Quarter architect-contractor Wayne Donaldson to oversee the project and he hired Architectural Ornamentation Associates to do the reconstruction work.
“Its very expensive, but it has to be done,” said Maggie Sexton, who along with Don Johnson and Jack Houston carried out the 60-day project.
Donaldson began the work with a $1,000 investigation into the facade’s condition. He said that 60 to 80 pieces of the facade were in various stages of disrepair or missing altogether. The pieces ranged from 4 square inches to 12 square feet and weighed up to 175 pounds. There are scrolls, shields, torches, lances, flags, rosettes and an eagle, all related to the South American countries with exhibits in the building in 1915.
The entire facade could have been reproduced with new materials. But Donaldson preferred to incorporate as much original facade as possible. “I think it’s important that the buildings have an appearance of age,” Donaldson said, and he criticized the recently rebuilt Electric Building (now the Casa de Balboa) for its modern steel-and-concrete interior, when the original, albeit temporary building (destroyed by arson in 1978) was made of wood and plaster.
Using photographs of the original building from the 1915-16 exposition, Donaldson designed replacements for parts of the 35-foot-high facade that were missing. All the “flames” from the torches had to be built from scratch. Cornices and spearheads were missing and must of the rest appeared to be held together by coat-hanger wire. Elements from other parts of the building were removed and used as models to build new models for the replacement ornamentation.
Donaldson used “hydrocal,” a cement-based plaster, for the new ornaments and, as in the original building, mixed in hemp rope to strengthen the plaster. But he replaced wood supports with steel. In some cases, the existing ornamentation was being held together by 12 coats of paint that had been applied over the last seven decades; the original plaster was gone completely.
Besides the ornamental work, Donaldson’s contract also required him to repair holes in the facade.
The building, designed by Bertram G. Goodhue in June 1913, originally included extensive skylights and a south wing. For the California-Pacific International Exposition in 1935-36, now-retired architect Sam Hamill redesigned the building with provision for a terrace restaurant on the site of the south wing and the open courtyard and fountain in place of the skylit meeting room.
During World War II, about 600 nurses occupied the building and in 1947, $80,000 was spent in restoration and $40,000 in furnishings, according to Florence Christman’s 1977 history of Balboa Park, published by the Committee of 100. Another restoration took place in 1967, prompted by the Junior League.
“We have a lot to think about before we go on to the next step,” said the Committee of 100’s Patricia DeMarce. “But I feel this has been a major step, opening the door to what we can do.”
Return to Amero Collection.
BALBOA PARK HISTORY
1900 | 1901 | 1902 | 1903 | 1904
1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1909
1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913 | 1914
1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1919
1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923 | 1924
1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1929
1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934
1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939
1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944
1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1949
1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953 | 1954
1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959
1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964
1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969
1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974
1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979
1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984
1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989
1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994
1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999