Downtown San Diego
Downtown San Diego with 101 Ash Street and, City Hall and the Civic Plaza building at center-left. Photo by Chris Stone

With settlement of the 101 Ash Street dispute giving the city control of six blocks of real estate, Mayor Todd Gloria has assembled a panel of 22 civic leaders to advise on redevelopment of San Diego’s dilapidated downtown core.

The Civic Center Revitalization Citizens Committee will “help inform the vision” for redevelopment of the area, which includes City Hall, the Civic Theater, Golden Hall, the Civic Center Plaza Building, 101 Ash and adjacent properties.

The real estate can be offered to developers under California’s Surplus Land Act.

Gloria described it as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to redeploy underused land right in the heart of downtown to address longstanding critical needs of the city and the people we serve” when he announced the panel on Thursday.

“It’s the perfect place for new homes served directly by transit, and it’s long past time to retire some of our dilapidated city buildings and improve the basic working conditions for our employees,” Gloria said.

“Thinking beyond those needs, the committee will help engage the public across San Diego to bring a fresh perspective to how we can best deploy these land assets for the greater civic good,” he added.

The committee includes representatives from a broad array of constituencies, including arts and culture, tourism, housing and land use, mobility and transportation, environmental activism, labor and employees, and the downtown community.   

Members must agree in writing that neither they nor their immediate family members or companies will participate in any future bid seeking the award of the redevelopment rights. 

“We should seize this opportunity to revitalize a key part of downtown while creating affordable housing to address the homelessness crisis,” said Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, who represents downtown. “I share the mayor’s vision in looking toward the future at what we can accomplish, and I thank these community leaders for serving on this committee and for their commitment to the betterment of our city.”

Members of the Civic Center Revitalization Citizens Committee include: 

  • Jaymie Bradford, executive vice president and chief operating officer, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, who will chair the committee
  • Bridgette Brashear, former building maintenance supervisor and AFSCME representative 
  • Betsy Brennan, president & CEO, Downtown San Diego Partnership 
  • Brigette Browning, secretary-treasurer San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council 
  • Mark Cafferty, president & CEO, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. 
  • Julie Coker, president & CEO, San Diego Tourism Authority 
  • Julie Corrales, policy advocate, Environmental Health Coalition and Barrio Logan Planning Group chair 
  • Colleen Fitzsimmons, executive director, SD Green Building Council 
  • Denice Garcia, chief of staff, Office of Supervisor Nora Vargas 
  • Martha Gilmer, CEO, San Diego Symphony 
  • Alan Gin, economics professor, USD 
  • Hermosillo, Manager, Downtown City Centre BID 
  • Donna Jones, land use attorney 
  • Carol Kim, business manager, San Diego Building Trades Council 
  • Jennifer Luce, principal & architect, LUCE et studio  
  • Jack McGrory, former San Diego City Manager 
  • Mark Nelson, board chair, San Diego County Taxpayers Association 
  • Bill Ponder, director of community engagement and programs, Burnham Center for Community Advancement 
  • Stephen Russell, president & CEO, San Diego Housing Federation 
  • Dr. Ricky Shabazz, president, San Diego City College 
  • Tony Young, former City Council president 
  • Mike Zucchet, general manager, San Diego Municipal Employees Association 

The committee’s first meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 19, at 3:30 p.m. on Zoom. All meetings will be open to the public, and participation is invited.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.