Balboa Park Conservancy Board of Director members Judy Swink and Vicki Granowitz recently issued a joint press release in which they announced their resignations from the board. Both of their resignations were precipitated by the board’s June 1 majority endorsement of politically powerful San Diego philanthropist Irwin Jacobs’ controversial Plaza de Panama plan. According to the press release, prior to June 1 the Balboa Park Conservancy had maintained a neutral role with no direct involvement in the creation or implementation of this plan. It now not only supports the plan, it will actively lobby for it.
That board endorsement came a few weeks after both the San Diego’s Historical Resources Board and the Park and Recreation Board voted against the Plaza de Panama project. Swink and Granowitz criticize the Conservancy Board action for its support of “a project that is both divisive and controversial.” They maintain that it “will reinforce public fears that the Conservancy will not, in fact, be independent of political considerations or the desires of individuals with power and means.
Their press release portrays a politically charged environment in which the Conservancy Board members were pressured to abandon their position of inclusiveness and transparency. Swink and Granowitz express their concern about the inherent power of wealthy and influential individuals and entities which are capable of submitting fully developed plans that circumvent public involvement and input from elected officials.
The San Diego City Council is expected to vote on the plan on July 9.