City of the Dream, 1940-1970

CHAPTER TEN: Downtown – The Tall Buildings Rise Again

As the year of 1963 began, a twenty-story building of glass and gold-sheen aluminum, the City’s first skyscraper-type structure in thirty-five years, opened its doors on Broadway at Seventh Avenue.

The 278-foot high office building was to be the headquarters of the Home Federal Savings & Loan Association, and its presi­dent, Charles K. Fletcher, compared San Diego to “a sleeping giant just awakening to find the great potential that is here … there is new blood in the community and it is amazing how much of it is second generation.”

Charles Fletcher was a son of one of San Diego’s pioneers who had arrived as a boy of sixteen from Massachusetts and had sold apples from a wagon, and became a builder of dams, a founder of communities and of roads and highways.

Soon to be completed on another downtown corner, on Broad­way at Second Avenue, would be still another skyscraper, one twenty-five stories above the street level, to house the headquar­ters of the United States National Bank. This bank was the one controlled by C. Arnholt Smith. The twenty-four story First and C building, a project of downtown property owner and land developer, Irvin Kahn, also was scheduled for completion early in 1963.

The towering structures were hailed as evidence of faith in the central business district. But they were scattered in loca­tion. There was as yet no center around which new buildings could be clustered; no dominating element to mark the beginning of a “City Beautiful.”

The struggle to save downtown and create the “City Beauti­ful” was not over. San Diegans, Inc., was an outgrowth of the Downtown Association and it differed from its parent group by a concern over the future of downtown and not just the matter of maintaining retail sales. A committee from San Diegans, Inc., would meet on a regular basis with a team from the City Plan­ning Department, year after year.

It had been Joseph Jessop, Sr., of the jewelry family, who had first suggested that downtown merchants should pay more at­tention to city planning, and through such an organization as San Diegans, Inc., Golden recalled later that downtown was fad­ing and “a lot of people thought it would not come back.” But San Diegans, Inc., believed that San Diego as a City had avoided the mistakes of larger cities such as Boston and Philadelphia which were described as typically European and laid out in the distant past with no provision for traffic patterns, and it was costing hundreds of millions of dollars to re-orient them. “One of these days,” Golden told the businessmen, “capital will come in here, and find us waiting, and the outside will do what we don’t do.”

Golden had arrived in San Diego from Utah to work as a car­penter and remained to erect, as a general contractor, scores of the largest military and privately-owned structures in the area.

The San Diegans, Inc., commissioned a study by a real estate research corporation, at a cost of $65,000, which was undertaken with the cooperation of the City Planning Department. This was to be the first step toward a master plan.

The report presented by Joseph Jessop, Sr., president of the group, in April of 1960 recommended the attraction of re­gional offices of large companies; bringing about the building of a thousand new hotel and motel rooms downtown, together with construction of a large convention hall; inducing the addition of 6,000 new close-in apartment rooms, for downtown living, and the location of proposed and future government offices in the central area.

“We are concerned with the dangers of `urban sprawl’ as dem­onstrated in other cities,” Ewart Goodwin told the City Coun­cil. “Central San Diego is the heart and nerve center of our met­ropolitan community.” He predicted that with good planning a hundred million dollars in new private and government build­ings could be built in the central area in eight to ten years. Guilford Whitney warned:

“Construction of numerous shopping centers will have a tendency to di­vert shopping traffic now going to downtown stores. But we believe we have a reasonably bright retail future if we work together on putting the plan into effect.”

The architect Hamill said the location of public buildings downtown would tremendously increase the stability of the central area.

The plan, however, did not present any large-scale beautifi­cation plans for downtown though some park-like atmosphere was considered possible in connection with some larger devel­opments, and particularly with public buildings.

At a luncheon following the presentation, Graydon Hoffman, a vice president of the Bank of America and manager of its San Diego branches, said that the loss years before of buildings in the downtown district had been a “rather significant disaster” and that new programs were tremendously important to San Diego.

A week later the City Council authorized master planning for downtown as suggested by San Diegans, Inc., and recommended by the City Manager, George Bean, and the City’s Planning Di­rector, Harry Haelsig.

Over the decades Los Angeles had far outstripped San Diego in population, wealth and commerce, at a cost of urban sprawl, air pollution, and congested streets and freeways. Los Angeles had almost two million more residents than San Diego.

Where once The San Diego Union had noted that San Diegans congratulated themselves that their City was not like Los An­geles, it now complained that there were those in Los Angeles who looked upon San Diego as being lethargic, and what they meant was that “it is a nice City, nice climate, but does San Di­ego as a City know, or care, where it is going?”

A contingent of twenty-five San Diegans representing San Diegans, Inc., the Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Tourist Bureau and the City Government went to Los Angeles to see where it was going.

They visited the developing Civic Center where $350,000,000 in governmental buildings were being grouped in one central location, something that San Diego had never been able to ac­complish in years of effort. They drove out along Wilshire Boule­vard where twenty-five large buildings costing $172,000,000 had been under construction in a single year. Tall buildings were steadily marching westward in a line toward the sea. These buildings were farther removed from downtown than Mission Valley was from central San Diego.

Business conditions in San Diego were not good. The year 1959 had been a boom one, but now the value of building per­mits had dropped from more than $195,000,000 to $136,000,000. While there were 312,000 people employed in 1961, there were more than 26,000 out of work. A bond issue to revitalize down­town was out of the question. If there were to be a Convention Hall, and a Civic Theater, some other way had to be found to build them.

An answer on the feasibility of building a Community or Civic Center was needed and the City Planning Department asked San Diegans, Inc., to finance a study. It did, and the an­swer was an affirmative one.

Downtown was where the City made a profit. That is, down­town property paid in taxes one and a half times what the City spent there for services. City services in outlying areas cost more than the areas paid in taxes. More building downtown — and more tax revenue — supposedly was awaiting upon a Con­vention Hall and a resolution of San Diego’s decisions on the future. In April of 1961 the City Council, with capital outlay funds, began purchasing portions of blocks in an area bounded by First and Third Avenues and by C and A Streets.

Before anything could be resolved, the City Council, to the consternation of business leaders, fired its manager, George Bean. Mayor Dail had been openly critical of the City Manager system, insisting that a strong Mayor was needed to guide the City through the turbulence of politics, and the existing system had tended to pit the Manager against the Mayor and the mem­bers of the Council.

Only two cities of the 1,600 with City Manager systems were larger than San Diego. Bean, often at odds with the Mayor, was quoted as saying:

“The City Council is operating almost daily on the basis of expediency, with few members who understand basic principles. Responsible citizens must hold fast to long-range planning.”

But Bean had opened the door by suggesting higher parking meter fees and the feasibility of combining of functions of the Police and Fire Departments. These were politically unpopular both with the departments and a Council majority. Too, there had been political fumbling on the proposed metropolitan sewer system and gross errors in cost estimates. The Mayor also had been absent from his duties with an increasing frequency, lead­ing once again to accusations that the City was leaderless and drifting, and to an incipient recall movement. The Vice Mayor, Frank Curran, was trying to keep things tied together.

While Bean was on a forced vacation, Councilmen argued his fate. Appearing on behalf of a large group of business leaders, Graydon Hoffman warned of the dangers of changing City Man­agers at such a time.

Though at least two Councilmen were opposed to discharging Bean, at a formal Council meeting the decision was made unan­imous. Dail vowed that he would have a Citizens’ Charter Re­view Committee look into whether a strong Mayor system might be better than the City Manager system for San Diego.

Waiting in the wings, as assistant City Manager, was Thomas Fletcher who had been hired originally by O. W. Campbell. He was thirty-seven years old. He was selected to be acting Manager and eventually received the formal appointment. “I realize that the future of the City Manager form of government may depend on my performance. I am walking on eggs.”

The task of carrying out the revitalization of downtown, as worked out by the City and San Diegans, Inc., now rested with Fletcher. As a bond issue could not be considered, in view of past rejections of funds for a Convention Hall and Civic Theater, and because of the conditions of the times, another way had to be found. Also, a new City Hall had been long delayed. The City and County shared administrative offices in the isolated but handsome building on the waterfront which once had been considered the keystone of the “City Beautiful.” It was no longer adequate for both of them.

In the beginning there was talk of somehow providing $45,000,000 for a Centre City. There was excitement in the air downtown: Besides the three skyscraper-type buildings already under way, the State of California was building its own new State building; the United California Bank, one of the nation’s largest, was entering San Diego and planned to erect an eight­een-story tower; the U. S. Grant Hotel was to have a twenty-one story addition; Ewart Goodwin, Hamilton Marston, Anderson Borthwick and Del Webb Construction Company were talking about a huge hotel-bank building project spanning B Street near Fifth Avenue, to be fifteen stories high on one side, twenty-two on the other; and there were rumors of another thirty-story bank and office building to cost $22,000,000.

Early in 1962 the City proposed to build a new City Hall, a Convention Center and Auditorium, a Civic Theater, and a park­ing garage, at a total cost of $15,000,000. A sum of $3,500,000 would come from the sale of its half of the Civic Center to the County. The City would borrow $8,400,000 from the City Employees Retirement Fund, as first suggested by the City Auditor-­Controller, Frederick Lawrence, and divert $2,000,000 from its capital outlay fund for a total of $10,400,000. However, because of the shortage of money, the four buildings would have to be squeezed onto three blocks.

Still, more money was needed, a million and a half more to get the program under way to a point where there could be sup­portable income. Morley Golden suggested at a meeting of San Diegans, Inc., that public contributions be sought. Under the leadership of Guilford Whitney, more than $1,600,000 was raised in six weeks from 134 citizens.

The contributors were led by James S. Copley, publisher of The San Diego Union and Evening Tribune, with a gift of $200,000. Gifts of $100,000 came from Morley Golden, the First National Trust and Savings Bank, Bank of America, Home Fed­eral Savings & Loan Association, San Diego Federal Savings & Loan Association, U. S. Grant Hotel, and the San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

Hoffman acted as chairman of a Civic Center Advisory Board. Its vice chairman was Philip L. Gildred, who told the Council:

“In the thirty-five years I have lived in San Diego, we have been in almost a constant squabble over a convention auditorium and a theater. This is the first time we have had a near unanimity of opinion.”

Some of the pledges, however, would not be fulfilled.

The “City Beautiful” could begin with the graceful grouping of public buildings in the manner of the “White City.” The old vision of a City fronting on the bay arose again. From the new City Hall which was to be placed across Second Avenue one could look south down the avenue to the bay — and why couldn’t it be lined eventually with handsome new structures and small park-like open spaces? For a starter it was suggested that the block on Broadway bounded by the United States National Bank Building on the west and the U.S. Grant Hotel on the east be set aside for a plaza like the Rockefeller Plaza in New York. C. Arnholt Smith agreed to donate the share of the block which he owned. There was only one drawback at the moment — the plans for the new Civic Theater called for it to turn its back on any such plaza.

It began to look as if everything was falling into place. With a diversification in employment and income through the mili­tary, tourism, agriculture, shipbuilding, fishing and evidence of a growing representation in new technologies, the City and County appeared able to surmount the financial disaster shap­ing up at Convair.

The jet-age finally came to San Diego and to Lindbergh Field. There was no other municipal airport available on the immedi­ate horizon and the Federal Government turned its face in the other direction. United Airlines and American Airlines began jet service to San Diego late in 1960. The Navy did surrender Brown Field to the City in 1962 but its conversion into a munici­pal field seemed to be far in the future, if ever.

Dail hoped to see Brown Field developed in cooperation with Mexico, at a time before Baja California began to expand and improve its own airport. He envisioned a north-south run­way that would tie into one built by Mexico, with customs and immigration facilities of the two countries at either end. Frank Curran, however, campaigned for an off-shore airport with the argument that it was not a matter of ground location but of usable air space. The air space, as he saw it, lay beyond the Naval facilities.

Though in time the weak Mission Bay Advisory Commission would be abolished and its responsibilities placed with the Parks and Recreation Commission, hotels were coming to the Bay. Early in 1960 a lease was granted to Jack and William Skirball for a family-type Vacation Village to cost $1,600,000, in which Robert M. Golden, the son of Morley Golden, would become involved.

Less than six months later the Del Webb Construction Cor­poration, which had been developing the Grossmont Shopping Center, received a lease on the Highway 101 side of the bay for a resort which would cost $5,000,000 and include a fourteen-­story round tower. The City Planning Commission and Council greeted this with satisfaction; high-rise is what they wanted, as suggested in the Community Facilities Report.

Within another six months a group of San Diego investors led by E. Garrick O’Bryan, Jr. unveiled a $2,000,000 resort hotel and restaurant for Quivira Basin. Though the buildings would be only two stories in height, they would be raised three feet above the ground to provide a view of the bay and ocean. Mate­rials and shading would be in harmony with the recommenda­tions of the Community Facilities Report.

There was considerable official disappointment, however, when the Del Webb firm returned to ask, and receive, a modifi­cation of its agreement, so it could build the proposed resort in phases. Low-level units would be built first and the tower later when occupancy rates justified it.

The Atlas missile produced in San Diego revitalized the na­tion when Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn, Jr., was lifted into orbit aboard a Mercury capsule Friendship, on February 20, 1962, and circled the earth three times.

The nuclear age had brought to San Diego, as had been an­ticipated, an expanding electronics industry. In 1962 there were fifty plants employing 11,000 persons, producing products val­ued at $280,000,000 annually, and sustaining a payroll of $72,000,000.

And already there was some substance to the boosters’ new designation for San Diego as the “Education Center of the West.” There were 12,000 students at San Diego State College, more than 2,000 at California Western, and more than 1,300 at the University of San Diego. Nearly $16,000,000 in buildings and ground improvements had been begun or authorized for the University of California at San Diego. The Board of Regents had definitely settled on the Torrey Pines mesa campus. A mas­ter plan had been developed, with construction first of graduate schools, to be followed by undergraduate schools.

Nevertheless, as the Winter waned and Spring advanced into Summer, economic conditions in San Diego began to worsen. The missile business was being passed around among other astronautics firms.

The Astronautics plant had taken up the slack in employment when Convair declined from its post-war peak of 35,000 in 1957. New employment at Convair had dropped to 10,000 and soon would be down to 5,000. Convair Astronautics, the work of build­ing launching sites for its Atlas missiles finished, was expected to drop more than 5,000 San Diegans from its rolls, and employ­ment at the San Diego plant was expected to go down to 13,000.

Losses on production of the 880 jet-liner, and a companion airplane, the 990, had mounted to $425,000,000, the largest in the history of a single American industry.

Management of General Dynamics changed again. Control passed to a Harry Crown, a Chicago financier who merged his Material Services Corporation with General Dynamics. He as­sured stockholders that the giant corporation’s financial trou­bles would be over soon. There was a new president, Roger Lewis, Jr., former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force. Execu­tives tumbled from their offices in San Diego. A backlog of or­ders, mostly military, totaled more than two billion dollars for all its far-flung divisions.

Other airplane-oriented industries in San Diego were consid­ered to be doing well. Ryan Aeronautical had diversified and now had more than 3,300 employees, with programs in electron­ics, sophisticated radar, jet drones and experimental aircraft. Rohr Aircraft had more than 5,000 employees, and though some reduction was anticipated, it was experimenting in electronics and prefabricated houses and bathrooms. Solar Aircraft, which had become part of Harvester International, had 1,800 employees and was working on a revolutionary new gas turbine engine.

Total employment in aircraft and parts manufacturing had de­clined by the Spring of 1962 from 51,000 to 40,700. The value of aircraft and missiles produced was higher in 1962 than in the year before, though still below that of 1960. The value of tuna was rising slowly and shipbuilding was on a rapid increase. In all, the total value of products manufactured was higher in 1962 than in 1961.

The number of workers in aircraft and missile production might be falling but there were almost as many people working as there were the year before, 312,000, and unemployment re­mained at about the same level. Sixty-two new industries, though small, had been established and 240 had expanded.

A decreasing reliance on manufacturing was indicated. The number employed in manufacturing had dropped from 73,750 in 1961 to 63,900 in 1962. But, those employed in the various service industries had increased by almost 3,000, and in govern­ment by about the same amount. Navy and Marine payrolls, both military and civilian, were soaring, as was the value of farm products.

Tourist revenue was still climbing, to well over $165,000,000 a year — an income far more than the payrolls of all civilian workers in the military and about the same as received by all Navy and Marine personnel in the area.

Three of the new shopping centers, which had brought so much consternation to so many of the community’s merchants, were open for business, though sales might have been less than expected. Retail sales downtown had declined only about thirty percent. George Scott’s College Grove had opened first, in July of 1960, followed by the May Company’s Mission Valley Center in February of 1961 and Marston’s Grossmont Center in the Fall of the same year.

The grandest name in San Diego merchandising, however, would soon be removed from the scene. Broadway-Hale Stores, Inc., already building in a shopping center in Chula Vista, bought control of Marston’s early in 1961, primarily to position itself in the Grossmont Center. For the time being it was still Marston’s. A third generation Marston, Arthur Hamilton Mar­ston, Jr., remained with Broadway-Hale as president of the San Diego stores. Merchandising was changing into chain operations and there had been difficulties in management with third-gen­eration holdings. George Scott had vowed not to surrender to the enticements of Los Angeles merchants and declared he would push northward with his own chain of department stores.

While the expansion of resort facilities was being welcomed for Mission Bay, the Federal Government was deepening and widening the San Diego Bay’s main channel to accommodate the Forrestal class of aircraft carriers, and the dredged material was being used to create still another island which, like Shelter Island, would be devoted primarily to the tourists and conven­tions. This island was being created just off Harbor Drive. While Mission Bay had been envisioned as a small boat bay and a family recreational area, the development of resort facilities in San Diego Bay was following the dictates of a Legislative mandate for “the promotion of commerce, navigation and fisheries.” “Commerce” had been officially broadened to in­clude recreational purposes.

What Mission Bay could mean to the tourist industry was studied by the San Diego Convention and Tourist Bureau, early in 1962, and it presented a report to City officials, the Chamber of Commerce and the Mission Bay Park Commission:

“While ninety percent of California’s population lives within 100 miles of the ocean, only one-fourth of all the beaches are publicly-owned, and many are accessible only by crossing private property. Present beaches are getting smaller and more crowded, and it is increasingly difficult to find a place to fish, golf, go boating or spend a vacation.”

All of this, the bureau concluded, pointed up Mission Beach’s crucial future economic importance, particularly if it is acknowl­edged that within twenty years the population of the country would increase by twenty-one percent, and by the year 2000 San Diego would be a “metroport” sheltering some two mil­lion persons.

What the community should do, the bureau recommended, was to attract even more tourists to San Diego by providing year-around activities on Mission Bay:

“The day of the inactive vacation is long past. People want to go where they can sightsee, swim, boat and fish. While a decade ago, most vacations were taken in Summer, today vacationing is a year-round activity.”

There were still San Diegans, however, who wanted to “shut the door.” For the first time, a bond issue, one of more than $12,600,000, to further the development of Mission Bay, while though it received a majority vote in 1962 failed to re­ceive the necessary two-thirds approval. Also rejected was a $10,000,000 bond issue for general park and recreation pro­grams. Perhaps it was all too much, at the time of some economic distress. Another round of bond issues, this time totaling $15,000,000 for various civic improvements, also went down to defeat in a special election in December of the same year.

There was still the port, and what it could mean in jobs and income. The Harbor Commission and the Director, John Bate, and the Industrial Development Council began a systematic wooing of community leaders, politicians and industry-minded people of the four other cities which bordered the bay.

When United States Senator Claire Engle, Democrat of Cali­fornia, asked for a unified voice on harbor development at San Diego, Norman Foster, president of the Chamber of Commerce, named a task force to study the creation of an agency that could surmount all political objections.

The reaction around the bay was encouraging. Unification might provide the funds to develop their tidelands without ex­cessive tax expenditures.

City officials and community leaders of National City saw their City as the industrial hub of the metropolitan area. Chula Vista’s officials favored unified bay development to provide in­dustrial and port facilities and prevent the City from becoming only a “bedroom” community. Chula Vista had grown by 25,000 persons in ten years but the industrial payroll was no larger than before. Imperial Beach looked forward to the opening of a second entrance to the bay and it was proclaimed that “what was good for the South Bay was good for Imperial Beach.” While the Mayor of Coronado, Robin Goodenough, saw his City’s future as a residential and resort community, certainly development of the South Bay would increase the land values. “We favor development of San Diego Bay.”

An enabling act creating a Unified Port District embracing the five cities was sponsored in the State Legislature by Sena­tor Hugo Fisher and Assemblyman James R. Mills of San Diego. It called for a vote of the people in the five cities.

It was about at this time that a national news magazine pub­lished an article describing San Diego as a “bust” town with nowhere to go. Though San Diego business leaders declared that the article had been only casually researched and statistics misinterpreted, it had been widely circulated and the City would have to live it down. Assurances of San Diego’s general economic stability and future prospects were sent to leading fi­nancial and business institutions.

San Diegans were worried, with the decline of aviation and missile production and the financial disaster at Convair, and with the tidelands as the site for a “City Beautiful” seemingly long abandoned, they were in a mood to accept what might per­haps be inevitable. Anyway, there wasn’t any space left on the City’s waterfront and if there had to be more industry it could go to the South Bay.

The port election was held on November 5, 1962. The voters of San Diego, National City, Chula Vista and Imperial Beach overwhelmingly approved a unification that would require them to turn their tidelands over to a new political entity. The voters in Coronado rejected unification by a margin of three to one.

Many of the residents of Coronado awoke to a realization that despite their vote Coronado was a part of the District. The deci­sion rested with a majority in all five cities. Angry officials, dif­fering with their Mayor’s previous position, filed numerous legal actions seeking a way out. There was none, except beginning all over again with an entirely new legislative act.

The District was formally created upon verification of the vote by the Board of Supervisors, in December, and the diffi­cult legal processes of transferring the tidelands to the new Dis­trict began. The City of San Diego transferred assets with an estimated value of a hundred million dollars and a bonded in­debtedness of eleven million.

Coronado’s only relief could come from the stipulation that the majority of the members of the new Unified Port District Board would be from the four cities which might be induced to work together in each other’s particular interests. The City of San Diego would have three on the board, and the other cities, one each. The first chairman, from San Diego, was Lorenz H. Ruehle, of National City.

By late 1963, a plan of development was ready. There were three main points: a huge marine terminal at National City, with a total cost of perhaps $20,000,000, and development there of an industrial area; a seventy-five acre backup industrial area and three additional cargo terminals, when needed, for Chula Vista, with preliminary work to cost $370,000, and a new pas­senger terminal at the port’s Lindbergh Field, to cost $4,700,000. In all, the four proposed cargo terminals could cost $90,000,000 or more.

Cutting of a second bay entrance through the Silver Strand would not interfere with his bay program, Bate told San Diego’s political and industrial leaders, but full development of the South Bay would indicate a bay opening through the Tia Juana River channel and then north to the south end of the bay.

Milton F. Fillius, Jr., president of the Chamber of Commerce, told Bate:

“We of the Chamber urge you to proceed with all possible dispatch, espe­cially in regard to the new cargo facilities. We will need all you have planned if present indications of port growth are fulfilled.”

In the new legislation creating the United Port District a word had been added to the uses of tidelands. That word was “recreation.” Thus, with hundreds, even thousands of more acres available for industrial, shipping and commercial pur­poses, and with Shelter Island a going concern in recreation and tourism, and a new island of like nature being created, Bate could ask San Diego to turn its attention once again to the full possibilities of its waterfront. Where once he worked to exclude public buildings and public uses of the waterfront facing the downtown area on the west, he now planned the conversion of the old pier at the foot of Broadway into a tourist attraction. San Diego’s principal avenue would now focus on the bay, a concept in the idea of the “City Beautiful” of two generations.

John Bate now seemed to be lord of all he surveyed. Now, too, all those ships would surely come.

Mayor Dail was not the lord of all he surveyed. His command of affairs was not all that he desired and the City was being rent again by a struggle over planning, a struggle that would last for several years.

After two years of work, the City Planning Department pro­duced a General Plan Study for San Diego and submitted it to the City Council in June of 1962. It was described as the first suggested plan for development of the City in the 102 years since its incorporation and represented an effort to bring some order out of the disorder of growth, and to properly place responsi­bility for civic decisions.

Though still termed merely a study, it did project in general terms ways to achieve ideals in the fields of housing, industry, commerce, agriculture, schools, libraries, recreation, water sup­plies, sewage disposal facilities, police and fire facilities, and in government and transportation.

It did for the first time suggest civic pressures be brought to bear against “urban sprawl” and the establishment of residen­tial areas as definable communities for which public and private services could be made available at reasonable costs. It was sug­gested that each residential area should contain different types of housing, varying in density. The primary function of the cen­tral area was held to be as an administrative center for all of the urbanized area.

And for the first time the metropolitan area was described as containing 710 square miles and bounded on the north by the Los Batiquitus lagoon between Leucadia and Carlsbad, El Cajon on the east, and the Mexican border on the south. It en­compassed six cities, San Diego, Del Mar, Chula Vista, National City, La Mesa, El Cajon, and the communities of Lemon Grove, Spring Valley, Lakeside, Poway, Solana Beach, Cardiff, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas and Leucadia.

Before the end of the year, Mayor Dail appointed a 200-man Citizens’ Advisory Committee for General Planning, as sug­gested by the City Planning Director, Harry Haelsig, to arrive at decisions. Dr. Don B. Leiffer, a San Diego State College pro­fessor of political science and former secretary to Governor Edmund G. Brown, was named chairman.

Haelsig told the Committee:

“We can have the kind of a City we desire. In the last twenty years, better than sixty percent of the area that now constitutes the City has been devel­oped. But we can’t neglect the older areas … we must revitalize and redevel­op San Diego to its maximum potential.”

Goals were to be set for the year 1985. Though San Diego ex­erted no direct influence on all of the described metropolitan area, its planners did not believe, in view of the decentraliza­tion of industry and the rapid appearance of new communities, that a City could exist in isolation. Mayors of the cities in the metropolitan area were invited to participate in year-long plan­ning sessions, in the hope growth could be coordinated.

More than eighteen months would pass before a plan for the City of San Diego and its environs could be presented, and its course would be a rough one.

Mission Valley was up again. The City Planning Department had been successful in not allowing Mission Valley to become a commercial alley, such as along E1 Cajon Boulevard and Uni­versity Avenue, though east of Highway 395 the character of the valley was changing from the original concept. Auto dealers and used car lots were beginning to appear.

West of Highway 395 the Planning Department and the Di­rector, Harry Haelsig, hoped to hold the line. This is the end of the valley that opened up onto Mission Bay. Haelsig had no ob­jection to office buildings but would impose setback and density restrictions, restrictions which in some cases met with resist­ance. The hotels in the valley so far represented what the plan­ners had in mind, attractiveness and open land.

A plea for fewer restrictions was made by valley property owners, in particular Paul Borgerding:

“Every building in Mission Valley was put there over the dead body of the Planning Department . . . . I think we will live to see the day when we will have tall buildings one after another — a second Miami Beach — in the val­ley. I think it would be the greatest thing San Diego ever had, because peo­ple like to come into a sensational city. What makes a sensational city? Bright lights and tall buildings.”

This remark, though, recalled in a way Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, which San Diego’s official and business leaders had viewed, on which tall buildings were marching in a line toward the sea.

The line, such as it was now, generally held, however. The larger issue was the power of the Mayor to control affairs. The Citizens’ Charter Review Committee appointed at his instiga­tion went into the question of a strong Mayor vs. a City Man­ager system of government. The committee, headed by Howard Chernoff, once publisher of the San Diego Daily Journal, made many recommendations as to changes in the charter but aban­donment of the City Manager type of government was not one of them. It did, however, recommend expanding the Mayor’s authority and stature to the extent of granting him the power of all appointments to City Commissions, with Council concur­rence. In the case of the Planning Commission, the Manager shared appointments with the Council acting as a body. As for himself, City Manager Fletcher responded by saying that “these Commissions advise the Council and I don’t think the City Man­ager has any business appointing any of the Commissioners.”

As a result of the Citizens’ Committee review, the voters in September of 1963 approved of the Mayor appointing all seven Planning Commission members, as well as other Commission­ers, though granting the Council the right to make the appoint­ments if it twice failed to approve the Mayor’s choices. But voters rejected a proposal to place the Planning Department under the Manager instead of the Planning Commission. The voters also approved expanding the Council from seven to nine members.

One of the civic achievements during Dail’s time in office was the financing and construction of the metropolitan sewer system which cost $51,000,000, or almost $10,000,000 more than had been expected, and had finally surmounted a rain of criti­cisms and objections. Most of the City’s civic groups had been brought together in support of a bond proposal, in 1960, and even Roscoe E. Hazard, the contractor who had opposed the earlier proposal, now, on the basis of new engineering studies and conclusions, fell into line and became chairman of the bond issue campaign. Dail said at the dedication in 1963:

“We have had more than our share of `hell’ from sidewalk engineers. There are some people who would complain if you sent them to heaven.”

Ever since 1962 there had been increasing problems with sewerage all over the City, let alone pollution of the bay. Pipes had broken down, overflows had plagued Mission Valley and Mission Bay, and even La Jolla Cove had been closed to swim­mers for a time. Housewives had been asked not to do their laundry on certain days of the week. Financing through sewer fees was approved by a wide margin.

There were twenty-seven miles of drains, designed for col­lecting and transporting sewage from eight cities, San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach, Coronado, La Mesa and E1 Cajon, and from four sanitation districts, Lemon Grove, Montgomery, Rolando and Spring Valley. The sewage was to be carried under Point Loma and then 14,000 feet out to sea and deposited for dilution at a depth of 200 feet.

A connection with the sewer system of Tijuana was added by the Federal Government, to prevent, in cases of emergencies be­low the border, the emptying of its sewage into San Diego Bay through the Tia Juana River bed. The metropolitan nature of the sewer system, was to serve somewhat as regulator of population densities, or of development. Participating communities had to estimate their sewer system needs and any future annexations, which acted as factors in controlling growth.

In failing health, and loser in a bid for real power, Charles C. Dail declined to run for re-election and thus opened up another civic quarrel between those who wanted to maintain the City planning standards of the past and those who wanted to make it easier for property owners to use or sell their land for the highest possible return, and also to encourage more industry.

There were many candidates for Mayor, the principal ones, however, being Frank Curran, Helen Cobb and Allen Hitch, members of the Council; David Casey, an attorney, and Murray Goodrich, a dealer in surplus aircraft parts and owner of an alum­inum smelter plant.

At various times, Hitch, Goodrich and Casey described San Diego a “slumbering giant with a village-type government,” and a potential “ghost town with skyscrapers.” Charles H. Brown, who opened Mission Valley to progress and now headed the Atlas Corporation controlling three hotels in the valley, was against what he called a cumbersome system that led to personal frustrations and abandonment of projects, and formed a jobs and Growth Association which most importantly proposed that the Planning Commission be converted into a legislative body whose authority could be appealed only in the courts and not to the Council. It would abrogate State regulations in favor of local control and grant broad powers to establish and define all zoning regulations. Each Councilman would select a member of the Commission for his district and the Mayor one at-large. This, opponents contended, would lead only to narrow pres­sures with Commissioners trading decisions between them in a great “pork barrel” of politics. However, Goodrich and Casey as well as Curran opposed the jobs and Growth proposal.

Dail, who had once remarked disparagingly of zoning restric­tions, now charged that the measure was being forced upon the Council by members favoring other Mission Valley interests:

“There has been a lot of appeasement in this Council regarding jobs and Growth. There has been a kowtowing to Mission Valley . … The structure of our Planning Department has been under vicious attack for two years . … The political maneuvering is all the more reason for us to retain independent planning as it exists in San Diego today.”

An observer of trends nationally looked upon what was hap­pening in San Diego. He was James C. Downs, Jr., of Chicago, who had been conducting seminars for real estate and financial dealers in San Diego for fourteen years:

“I have noticed with dismay the attack on City planning in San Diego. San Diego has a national tradition of fine planning, of high integrity and capabil­ity in its planning purpose. Prior to 1900 our society had no planning and zon­ing. Since then, we have made much progress and solved many problems with planning and zoning, and we certainly don’t want to destroy that progress because of the advantage that comes to certain individuals who think that by beating planning or zoning, they can make a fortune.”

What disturbed him equally as much, however, was that jobs and growth meant industry:

“The claim by anyone that San Diego’s future lies in bringing in new in­dustry here reflects inexperience. In the United States today, three-fourths of the people do not work in manufacturing. Cities like Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Detroit wish they didn’t have to rely so much on heavy manufacturing.

“The idea that you can solve all your problems by bringing in a lot of in­dustry here is in error in two respects — the assumption that you can get new industry, which I think is highly doubtful, and the assumption that you want industry, which I think is questionable.”

The City’s future, according to him, was in tourism, commerce and finance, in government activities, in research and education, in the professions, and in retirement living.

The Mayor and Council were accused of by-passing the peo­ple on the grouping of public buildings for what became known as the Centre City project, and that this was an example of the sinister influence that the downtown interests had on the City government. Property owners in Mission Valley had brought suit in a futile attempt to challenge the legality of the use of City retirement funds for public buildings, but nothing had come of it.

Curran insisted:

“The project led to a complete rejuvenation of our downtown core and won for us the All-American City award. In past elections the people voted for such a project but not by the two-thirds majority needed. Most of the people wanted it — we had to find another way to finance it.”

The designation of San Diego as an All-American City had come from the National Municipal League for its work in devel­opment of the Community Concourse through the combined cooperation of government and its citizens. Congratulations had come from President Kennedy, while Mayor Dail accepted the award for the City at a civic luncheon.

Business and community leaders threw their support behind Curran and he easily defeated Goodrich in the run-off election and became Mayor at the age of fifty-one. An initiative petition to place the jobs and Growth proposal regarding the Planning Commission did not make the ballot until the following year, and was defeated. Curran represented stability, a commitment to the way things were being done and the direction the City was going. Goodrich had promised to tour the country regularly to attract new industry to San Diego.

There was to be no final surrender to the auto. There was brave talk of setting side eighteen blocks in the heart of the City which would be for pedestrians only. The stores and the people could come back.

A growing city, in order to become an important metropolitan area, would need two other things: culture and sports. Or, at least, so believed those who presumed to look into the future. The high-technology industries and educational and scientific institutions were attracting a new white-collar type of worker with leisure time and more-than-average income. The San Diego Symphony had existed since April 11, 1927, when Nino Marcelli conducted the first concert in the Spreckels theater but, as in all cities and communities, needed constant infusions of contri­butions to keep it going. William L. Dean had launched the Star­light Operas in 1946. In art, the Fine Arts Gallery had amassed what was believed to be a collection equal to larger metropoli­tan areas. The important collection of the Putnam sisters was now assured a permanent home in San Diego, in a gallery in Balboa Park.

A new attitude toward sports came with the arrival in San Diego of Jack Murphy as sports editor of The San Diego Union. Before him, local sports had been a matter of minor league pro­fessional teams, of high school competition, and the promise of things to come from San Diego State College. Limited horse racing had existed below the border, in Tijuana, then later at Agua Caliente, and then, too, at the Del Mar track of the County Fair. Attendance in large measure was from out of the immedi­ate area. But sports were assuming a large stature throughout the country.

San Diego had experienced minor league baseball since 1936, when William H. Lane had moved his Hollywood Stars to San Diego and into a small ball park built on the waterfront largely by the Works Progress Administration during the Depression. In 1955 ownership passed to C. Arnholt Smith, through his Westgate-California Corporation, and he built the Pacific Coast League team a new park, Westgate, in Mission Valley, in 1958.

Less than three years later came the news that Barron Hilton, son of the Hilton hotel magnate, was interested in moving his professional football team, the Los Angeles Chargers of the new American Football League, to San Diego. The only difficulty was the seating capacity of Balboa Stadium which generally had been used for high school athletics. The City Council resolved that by agreeing to spend $700,000 to renovate the stadium and add a second tier to raise its capacity from 23,000 to 30,000. Two Councilmen, Ross Tharpe and William Hartley cast “no” votes only because the contractual agreement also gave the Chargers a year’s free use of the stadium. Professional football games began in the Fall of 1961 with an attendance for the first game of only 20,000. The Chargers defeated the Oakland Raid­ers forty-four to zero.

The new football league was slow in prospering and at one time Hilton sought without success to sell the Chargers to C. Arnholt Smith for $750,000. There were many old-timers who insisted that large-scale professional sports would not do well financially in San Diego, because of competition with partici­pator attractions available in a mild climate. There were no population concentrations of “blue collar” workers committed to spectator sports.

But as far back as 1960 there had been talk of big-time base­ball for San Diego and in 1961 the owner of a Los Angeles team of the National League saw the City as the focal point of a strug­gle between his league and the American League for the most at­tractive new franchise on the West Coast.

Delegation after delegation of San Diegans, primarily under the leadership of Dr. Albert Anderson of a Chamber of Com­merce sports committee, visited baseball league meetings and training camps. Two Mayors, Dail and Curran, gave their sup­port. At one point, in 1963, Smith promised that he would con­vert his Westgate Park into a major league stadium and meet an expected franchise price of $4,000,000. At times there were indi­cations two teams might be available to make a move to San Diego, one from Milwaukee and another from Cincinnati. Nothing came of them, but the price for an existing baseball team had jumped to $7,000,000. And football in San Diego was taking hold.