Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons

Nothing can be made out of nothing. - excerpt from King Lear by William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

What’s not to love about paradise? We live amidst striking natural and human-created surroundings, partnered with an idyllic, temperate climate, amongst attractive, creative, and successful neighbors.

Yet, there is one complaint shared by many: There is much discussion on countless great ideas, all for naught.

When it comes to pivotal community projects, it feels at times as though nothing can be made out of nothing.

So many notable ideas are shelved; take for example the Quigley-Sasaki Waterfront Design, complete with an astonishing iconic “ArcWalk” pier. Through a nationwide competition, this astonishing design was recommended by a renowned competition jury, approved by the Board of Port Commissioners, and soundly endorsed by Downtowners. That was June 2004.

For years, sometimes even decades, San Diegans discuss visions of a new airport configuration, a new government civic center, the western Embarcadero bayfront property including the Navy site, the Central Library, and my favorite, a “free” Downtown transit circulator.

Projects that are actually built, such as Horton Plaza and the ballpark, are fraught with delays and overrun costs due to a swirl of controversy and legal challenges.

To rephrase a famous line attributed to Abraham Lincoln, You can please (fool) some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not please (fool) all of the people all of the time.

Public input and opinion is important, but can we put aside our mutual differences and think about the betterment of our community? How do other cites create remarkable public spaces and amenities without letting the diversity of opinions stall or cause the project to be abandoned entirely?

I wonder…Do we please some to receive nothing?

Chris Bott (Bella Via) thought with our newly instituted strong mayor government all parties would be heard, interests weighed, and a resolution would be achieved; one in the common interest of all.

Jilien Rubin (Watermark) became tired of attending various workshops over the years on the same project. She finds as new officials are elected, the project the public approved is no longer viable. Where’s the leadership, she questions.

Randy Jackson (Park Place) wonders at what point we should give up trying when promises aren’t followed through? Take the quiet zone for example, the money set aside for completion is no longer enough. Perhaps projects should begin with the money on hand; at least then some of the residents would have a good night’s rest.

Without a question, Horton Plaza was the beginning of our community’s evolution. The ballpark is our most recent catalyst. Despite the trials and tribulations, the greater public good won out, and these two projects are actively contributing to our becoming a vivacious city.

Now is the time to reinstate a project that's been stalled from lack of funds: the quiet zone. It's time to make something out of nothing, and please all of the people all of the time. -August 2007

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