Letters to the Editor
IN RESPONSE TO YOUR REQUEST for the Balboa Park Committee (BPC) perspective on the state of Balboa Park and its future and what role we are actively playing I thought I would start by letting your members know who we are.
The Balboa Park Committee is the Planning Group for Balboa Park. We advise the Mayor and the City Council, the Park and Recreation Board, and City Staff on land use and policy issues relating to the acquisition, development, maintenance and operations of Balboa Park.
While leadership in the park has been fractured by the various goals and visions of the many organizations, institutions, city departments and politicians all with an interest in the park, the needs of the general public are often lost in the cacophony. But there are signs of positive changes.
The Park has been transitioning into an increasingly transparent and inclusive process. Boards of institutions cannot just take 24 more acres or tear down a building without a public protest. The public will no longer support plans that might be a threat to the park, as in the past when a former City Councilman wanted to put a tent city for the homeless in Balboa Park.
There are many more examples of these positive changes occurring, I give you just a few but important examples; this past July the Old Globe presented their plans for rebuilding the Cassius Carter Theatre to the BPC. They had stayed in their existing leasehold and proposed a building that meets the intent of the Secretary of Interiors Standards.
The Balboa Park Cultural Partnership - the recently formed umbrella organization for the cultural institutions in the park - have worked with the BPC on a number of proposals and have been willing to listen to perspectives based on a community centric vision and work towards common goals.
The San Diego Foundation, the Legler Benbough Foundation and the Parker Foundation have pooled resources to commission a report on the baseline facts of Balboa Park. This would begin to tell us what the condition and needs of the Park really are and will help us make recommendations based on facts. The BPC has been trying to get this information or years. Representatives from the BPC have been assisting the Foundations in this very important task. These Foundations have been up front about wanting to have a discussion of governance for the Park. They are also on record about potentially offering funds to support a blue-ribbon commission to explore the idea. I am grateful they had the insight and ability to get the public interested in the topic.
Both of these efforts have been publicized and any discussion of a conservancy or any other type of governance for the Park will occur in a transparent open public process, which has yet to be discussed or agreed upon. I will continue to do my part and push for a balanced membership that also includes community activists.
I am aware there is a fear for some, that lobbyists, special interests, or the rich and powerful will make decisions in back rooms and the public will be shut out. As a member of the general public I find myself fearful of this from time to time. However I feel it's too late for that to occur here, as community people are already included. Discussions and decision-making are increasingly transparent, and institutions have started thinking about how proposals will impact the general public not just their institution.
We all need to move away from an "us vs. them" attitude. If we are to protect and enhance Balboa Park for future generations we will need individuals with many different perspectives, backgrounds, skills and resources working together.
Thank you SOHO for your continued interest and support for this national register historic district.
- Vicki Granowitz, Chair of the Balboa Park Committee, San Diego
ENCLOSED FIND A HISTORY of the Schiefer & Sons Showcase & Fixture Company that occupied the three story brick building on the southeast corner of 8th and J streets for thirty-odd years. While the building is identified as an "airplane factory" that was an interesting but small portion of the products manufactured there. A great majority of the retail business - department stores, cocktail lounges, bars and restaurants, grocery stores and most businesses that used showcases and fixtures, even including offices and business locations, were served by Schiefer & Sons. Piggly Wiggly and Safeway stores as far north as Fresno were installed by Schiefer & Sons. Meat display cases and refrigerated "reach-in" cold cases were a specialty that had few competitors in those days.
It is my understanding that the building that was originally scheduled for removal has now been restored and saved and will be available for rental units. While I didn't find much interest in the history I enclose, I do think that the Schiefer family business contributed a lot to the history of the area. I thank you for any use you might find for the information that I submit to you. Saving Our Heritage is most surely a very worthy endeavor.
- William E. Schiefer D.D.S. (retired), Yuma, AZ
Click HERE for the more lengthy history mentioned in this letter.
WE WOULD LIKE TO PERSONALLY THANK SOHO Executive Director Bruce Coons and the SOHO staff and board for supporting and advising the residents of Mission Hills for the past five years on our two historic districts, which have just been approved unanimously on the 238th anniversary of the founding of San Diego on July 16th.
The Mission Hills Historic District (75 homes) and the Fort Stockton Line Historic District (107 homes, 2 commercial buildings) were researched by residents in Mission Hills, led by us and other SOHO members Barry Hager, Scott Sandel, and many other Mission Hills residents. Furthermore, long-time SOHO members Ron and Dale May provided invaluable research to us, in large part because of our SOHO connection and out of respect to the late Kathy Flannigan. SOHO created a historic district link on their website for our districts as well as other proposed and established historic districts, SOHO provided a place on their website for residents to learn more about our districts, read about the many benefits of districts and read our design guidelines during the past five years. This represented an invaluable resource for our residents to learn more about districts and the Mills Act.
As we gathered support for our districts, SOHO supported us by not only advising us, but also advocating on our behalf with the Historic Resources Board to save several important homes. SOHO encouraged its members to write letters of support as we went through the process. We had many letters of support by SOHO members as well as letters from Mission Hills Heritage, University Heights Historic Society, the National Trust and even national bungalow experts such as Jane Powell and Style 1900 senior editor Anne Stewart O'Donnell.
And finally, we would like to thank SOHO for assisting us and including us in the recent Summer issue of Style 1900, which featured an in-depth article on the Arts and Crafts Movement in San Diego. We participated in the recent Regionalism and Modernity: The Arts and Crafts Movement in San Diego and Environs conference by leading a walking tour of Mission Hills, thanks to SOHO.
The benefits of being a SOHO member are countless, including its strong advocacy of historic preservation throughout the county, its conferences, lectures and workshops - we have learned so much during our time with SOHO as well as having access to the leading preservation experts in town, in particular, David Marshall, Erik Hanson, David Swarens, Alana and Bruce Coons, Bonnie Poppe and many others.
- Allen Hazard and Janet O'Dea, Mission Hills
MORE FROM THIS ISSUE
VIEW digital online version
From the Editor
Reconstructing Balboa Park's "Dream City"
Names & Milestones in the History of Prado Buildings
10 Vanished Balboa Park Landmarks
Historic Losses: Fires Devastate San Diego San Diego County's Historic Sites
California Tile: Our Claim to Tile Fame
The Use of Tile in the Home
In Memoriam - Beth Montes
The Beth Montes Memorial Internship & Outreach Fund
Letters to the Editor
Lost San Diego
Strength in Numbers
VIEW digital online version
DOWNLOAD full magazine as pdf (21mb)