Road Controversy in the City Council ~ SD Union, January 10, 1904

JANUARY 10, 1904, 9:1


Clear Statement of the Controversy Existing in the City Council

Necessity of Getting Together in Some Agreement in Order to Take Advantage of an Excellent Offer

Editor Union: The meeting of the street committee of the city council on Saturday night developed the existence of a deadlock on a question of great public concern, upon which I am constrained to address you in the hope that a simple statement of the facts may clarify the disturbed atmosphere. I refer to the matter of the preparation of certain streets and thoroughfares of the city for the reception of the oil which the chamber of commerce has volunteered to donate.

On November 20th last the chamber offered to supply the city with enough oil to cover, with two coats, no less than six miles of city streets and park thoroughfares. A condition was annexed to this offer to the effect that, in order to avail itself of it, the city must prepare the roadbeds for the reception of the oil prior to February 15th. It is thus clear that unified and immediate action is demanded if the city is to take advantage of this liberal proposition.

The proposed system of oiled highways is as follows. Beginning at Sixth and Upas streets along Upas to Fifth street; Fifth to Walnut; Walnut to Fourth, Fourth to University avenue; thence to normal school; thence along Park Boulevard to the park at the point of the golf grounds. As to these city streets, there exists a perfect unanimity of opinion.

The remainder of the circuit has, however, furnished the bone of contention. It comprises the route through the park and the question at issue is whether the council shall adopt the thoroughfares outlined and planned by such competent landscape architects as Messrs. Parsons and Cooke of New York, or whether it shall change those plans to the extent of diverting the route along the west line of the park and incorporating a section of a road laid out by the council as long ago as 1888.

To my mind the reasons for accepting the driveways as planned by the world famous architects are so plain that a mere reference to them should carry conviction to the mind. A glance at the drawings in the office of the park improvement committee of the chamber of commerce will conclusively show that the designers have done their work well. In outlining the system they have ever kept before their minds the fundamental idea of beautifying the city’s pleasure grounds. Winding here and there, passing over this undulation and that, the element of contrast would vary the view and furnish additional pleasure to the spectator. It is proposed that the thoroughfares shall be of a width of fifty feet, the same as that adopted in such finished parks as those of New York and all large cities.

These plans, I repeat, are the work of men who are world famous in their profession, and who have spent their lives in the beautification of parks throughout two continents.

Several members of the street committee, however, have seen fit to array their judgments on this question against those of Messrs. Parsons and Cooke, and they propose to disfigure the matured plans by altering the route so as to include a distance of five blocks along the West Park Boulevard as indicated. That is to say, they propose to incorporate as park of the park system, a highway utterly incongruous with the scheme designed, it being 150 feet wide and with an unbroken even surface. One might as consistently propose to introduce a wash tub on a banqueting table.

There cannot be used a single argument in support of such a proposition. No, I am wrong. There is just one. This plan cannot fail to greatly advance the value of the real estate along this 150 feet wide street, and it is quite possible that the individual owners of such property would not object to the city preparing the street and to the chamber of commerce oiling it without cost to them. But then, of course, such an argument would not appeal to the councilmen.

There exists also another reason why the plans which Messrs. Parsons and Cooke, under the direction of the park improvement committee, have prepared cannot properly be interfered with. On April 20, 1903, ordinance 1335, providing for the improvement of the city park was duly signed by the mayor and became in force. This ordinance is so conclusive on the question that I may be pardoned from quoting briefly therefrom.

“Section 1 . . . said board of public works is hereby authorized and directed to lay out and improve the 1,400 acre city park in the city of San Diego in accordance with plans and specifications provided by the chamber of commerce, provided that said plans and specifications are approved by said board of works and a copy filed in the office of the city engineer.”

This ordinance alone determines the question. The plans have been provided by the chamber of commerce and every condition of the ordinance complied with. If we are, therefore, to respect our own laws, we cannot do otherwise than adopt the drawings designed by the architects acting for the chamber.

The situation is indeed urgent; and if the city to derive the great benefit which must follow the oiling of these six miles of roadway, no time must be lost in preparing the thoroughfares.

On December 21, an ordinance introduced by Delegate Sehon, which incorporated the old highway on the west line of the park, was passed by the delegates; but, on January 4, the aldermen amended it by substituting another which contemplated the adoption of the thoroughfares designed by Messrs. Parsons and Cooke. In this latter action, the delegates refused to concur and referred the ordinance to the street committee. The committee, on January 7, recommended its rejection.

It is, therefore, apparent that a condition of affairs exists, which, unless remedied, may result in such delay that the site will lose the inestimable advantages to be derived from this improvement. But a little more than a month remains to satisfy the precedent condition to receiving the liberal gift, and it behooves all good citizens to urge their representatives to take such measures and will accomplish this desired end.

F. C. BYERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chairman of the Joint Street Committee

Return to Samuel Parsons and Balboa Park.