The mayor’s office sent an ordinance to City Council to overturn the 15-member board and replace it with an 11-member board with qualifications in city finance, planning, auditing, resource management and protection, wildlife protection, construction management and recreation management.
According to the ordinance, the mayor will appoint three members nominated by District 2 City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer and three members nominated by District 6 City Councilmember Donna Frye, whose districts cover Mission Bay.
Three “at-large” members, one hotel lessee representative and one lessee not related to hotels will round out the board of mayoral appointments. Committee members will still volunteer their time and have two-year, staggered terms.
In previous years, the mayor appointed the committee members but did not specify required qualifications.
“We made those changes today … trying to strike a balance and also trying to ensure we have expertise on the board because there’s going to be a lot of important projects and money associated with the park,” Faulconer said.
City Council also charged the Park and Recreation Board with overseeing regional park improvement funds of at least $2.5 million a year from Mission Bay lease revenue by July 1.
More than $23 million in improvement funds is expected to flow to Mission Bay Park next year from the voter-approved Prop. C passed in November, according to the mayor’s proposed budget.
But Mission Bay Park Committee member Judy Swink, who has served on the board since 1994, said the change in qualifications of the committee members could “crowd” out the voice of the average citizen.
“I was concerned that it might have the potential to limit the citizens’ ability to participate meaningfully in the decision making process,” Swink said.
She said citizen advisory boards should be “broadly representative of the community” and that City Council shouldn’t rush into deciding whom to appoint to the new Mission Bay Park Committee.
City officials addressed the concerns of citizens like Swink and others present at the June 9 meeting.
“It was not the intention of myself … to preclude members of the community with the skill sets that aren’t professional but have a value to allow them to perform effective oversight,” Frye said at the meeting.
Mission Bay Park Committee Chair Rick Bussell said he hopes future boards won’t look at everything in terms of dollars and cents but will do what is in the best interest of the Mission Bay community.
“In my heart of hearts I believe that these people will do what’s in the best interest of the park, and not just for political expediency,” Bussell said during the June 2 Mission Bay Park committee meeting.
At the City Council meeting, District 1 City Councilmember Sherri Lighter unsuccessfully pushed for additional language to the ordinance that would allow each council district to nominate a member to the Park and Recreation Board.
“In that every council district does have regional parks, it would be appropriate for every district to have representation to the Park and [Recreation] board,” Lightner said at the meeting.
City Council members can currently nominate Park and Recreation Board members; however, final appointments rest with the mayor and are approved by City Council.
While City Council wrestles with the details of the Mission Bay Park Committee, a list of Mission Bay projects sits in the pipeline.
Slated projects include improvements to the jetty, Rose and Tecolote creeks and expansion of wetlands.
The Park and Recreation Board will use the approximately $2.5 million from Mission Bay Park revenues for various park improvements throughout the city, including projects in Balboa Park, Mission Trails Regional Park, Otay River Valley Park, San Diego River Park and other various beaches and parks throughout the city.
Faulconer, a former Mission Bay Park Committee member, said that the entire project is a huge step forward for the city of San Diego. He added that it was frustrating seeing revenue generated from Mission Bay Park used elsewhere.
“… [We were] seeing wetland improvements, restrooms [projects] that were never going to get done because the money kept getting diverted each and every time,” Faulconer said. “We’re going to have the opportunity to move forward on projects that were long overdue.”
The Mission Bay Park Committee meets the first Tuesday of the month at the Santa Clara Recreation Center, 1008 Santa Clara Place.
The committee is scheduled to next meet Tuesday, July 7.