Downtown Partnership Vs. Gov. Brown
New chairman, Pete Wilson and others vow to fight to preserve redevelopment dollars
By Manny Cruz
Rick Bach has taken the 2011 chairmanship of the Downtown San Diego Partnership just as the nonprofit organization is facing one of its biggest battles — the preservation of Downtown redevelopment dollars. Gov. Brown’s proposal to extinguish all the redevelopment agencies in California to help solve the state’s gigantic budget crisis has stirred cries of foul up and down the state from politicians and local government officials — none louder than those in San Diego.
Bach, head of Turner Construction Co.’s San Diego County operations, pledged the Partnership’s fight against Brown’s proposal during his installation last month before a crowd of more than 300 of San Diego’s business and political figures. “This shortsighted proposal will stifle job creation and economic growth and will send our local money to Sacramento,” Bach said. “We will stand united with our local elected and community leaders in fighting this proposal.”
The Partnership had no problem coaxing former mayor and Gov. Pete Wilson — largely regarded as the father of Downtown’s revitalization — to address the installation crowd and to whip up the opposition. When Brown says, “we’re going to take your redevelopment dollars,” Wilson paraphrases the governor, the former mayor responded — to a loud round of applause — “Like hell you are!”
“Jerry ought to know better,” said Wilson. “None of that (redevelopment money) should be available to the state.” Redevelopment, he added, means jobs, new payrolls, new sales tax revenues.
Bach used his installation talk to promote the continued revitalization of the Downtown area. “A thriving Downtown,” he said, is necessary for the entire region to prosper. There has never been a more important time for us to focus on the economic vitality of the region and that will be my cornerstone as chair. A thriving Downtown will create jobs and give money back to our neighborhoods.”
Bach said the Partnership will continue to support and promote the Centre City Development Corp.(CCDC), the agency in charge of Downtown redevelopment. Each dollar invested by CCDC has attracted more than $8 in private investment and $200 million in new annual tax revenues have been generated, according to Bach.
The new chairman also pledged the Partnership’s efforts in helping to solve the homeless issue and to create “deeper alliances” with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Corp., East Village Association, Gaslamp Quarter Association and other groups to attract more economic growth.
Bach succeeded Scott Maloni, vice president of Poseidon Resources, as chairman of the Partnership.
Bach responded to a series of questions from SD METRO about his role as the Partnership’s chairman.
1. As the chair of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, what will be your major priorities once you take over the position?
My major priority will be to broaden our membership base to include residents, small business and others. I We will continue to promote Downtown development and will push to see the Convention Center Expansion, the Civic Center and a possible downtown NFL stadium. We will also continue to promote, support and protect CCDC. Finally, we will continue to influence and shape public policy that benefits downtown and our membership. In 2011 you will see the formation of a PAC.
2. What would be your highest priority?
As we are a membership based organization, my highest priority will be making the organization more focused on the needs, wishes, and desires of our membership base.
3. As the senior vice president of Turner Construction Company, you are involved in some major projects Downtown, such as the new library and the expansion of Lindbergh Field. How will your involvement in those and, in reality, all of Turner’s projects help you when you take the reins of the DSDP Board?
In some respect, all of Turner’s projects interact with a vast array of city agencies, particularly the two that you mentioned; the new downtown library and Lindberg Field. Those agencies all interact with the Partnership as well. The relationships that I have formed combined with my experience with working on downtown projects will greatly enhance my ability to serve the Partnership.
4. What is the working relationship between the Downtown Partnership and the San Diego City Council?
The Partnership has a very productive and constructive working relationship with the City Council. Of course, the Council represents other areas of the city outside of downtown, so occasionally downtown issues are not as high a priority as in outer districts.
5. Why is the Downtown Partnership’s work so important? Couldn’t its work be accomplished by the CCDC and the City Council?
No, not to the same extent. The DSDP membership base is largely private businesses, non profit-organizations and individuals who may not otherwise have a direct voice or platform to be heard by the City Council and the CCDC.
6. Do you believe that the board of the Downtown Partnership should endorse candidates for the San Diego City Council and Mayor of San Diego? If yes, why? If no, why not? .
No, it has never been our position to support individual political candidates. We will however fully support or oppose issues, ballot measures or other initiatives which may have an indirect effect on candidates.
7. Should the Downtown Partnership board take positions on City, County and State ballot measures?
Yes; particularly to the extent they effect the growth and development of downtown
8. What groups or entities would you consider to be allies of the Downtown Partnership? And Why?
I think we have several: certainly businesses and business groups that are in or have an interest in downtown; CCDC, the BIA and AGC and certainly the Chamber and EDC.
9. Do you believe economic conditions are harming the Partnership’s efforts in any way?
The current stresses on the economy have been a challenge to maintaining our membership base. However, we have been extremely pleased that many of our members continue to find relevance and value in our mission and continue to provide strong support to the Partnership.
10. Now that the strong mayor form of government has been permanently installed, describe what the relationship between the Partnership and the Mayor should be.
The strong Mayor form of government will allow us to continue open dialog and complete transparency on issues that affect our membership base. This furthers quality of life for downtown businesses and residents.