San Diego entertained more than a dozen serious plans to renovate Balboa Park in preparation for its 2015 centennial. The winning plan—proposed and backed by a wealthy private citizen—had received a formal endorsement from San Diego’s former mayor and approval from the City Council before a Superior Court judge ultimately dismissed it on grounds that it violated municipal code. Although the private plan did not succeed, its failure came too late to ensure the park could be reconstructed in time for centennial celebrations. In an era of limited public funding for civic works projects, public-private partnerships are common. A new challenge for financially struggling local governments like those in California is navigating increasingly appealing private offers to fund public projects—usually with strings attached. This arrangement raises many questions, including: (1) Who determines the authenticity and historical merit of public infrastructure? (2) Should these decisions be left to private firms and individuals in the absence of sufficient city funding?, and (3) What—if any—recourse do citizens have if they disagree with privately funded redevelopment projects?
|Keywords:||Architecture, Design, Historic Preservation, Infrastructure, Public-private Partnership, Public Works, Urban Planning, Redevelopment|
Assistant Professor, Department of Arts and Humanities, National University, San Diego, California, USA