June 21 2013 12:00 AM

Uptown will get a new park--more than 100 years in the making

IMG_1724
Empty lot, with the infringing driveway on the right
Photo by Kelly Davis
It's been quite a week at City Hall-allegations of extortion! Bullish behavior! Police escorts!

Clearly what this city needs is more parks.

The City Council this week unanimously voted to move forward with a plan to create a new park in Bankers Hill-a project advocates say is more than a century in the making. ---

According to city records, in 1909, local resident and Methodist minister Loren McKee gifted to the city a 16,000-square-foot plot of land on the west side of Third Avenue at Olive Street for use as a public park.

"The greatest men plant trees that they will never see," said Gina McKee, Loren's great-great granddaughter. "And I believe that is really what he had in mind. This family believed so much in the future of this community that they donated this land free of charge."

However, the envisioned green space has yet to be realized.

In 1963, the city agreed to let local resident Milan Brandon, under the Beaver Investment Corporation, use part of the property in exchange for maintaining the park space.

Brandon turned a portion of the land into a paved-over entrance to underground parking for a medical office building and never followed through on maintaining the rest of the property. The city eventually offered him continued use of a portion of the property in exchange for fair-market rent, but he declined the offer.

Now the city's taking back the land and moving forward with the park.

Steven McKinley, an attorney representing the Brandon Family Trust, argued Tuesday that a park would significantly disrupt the parking lot's traffic flow. 

"It has been used for access to their property for over 50 years," he said. "Now the public entity comes back later and says, In order for you to continue to enjoy what we permitted you to do at no cost, based upon which you built a building, now we're going to charge you $50,000 a year.

The City Council didn't see it that way.

"It's very clear that there was a responsibility to maintain this as a park, and it's unfortunate that that hasn't happened," Councilmember David Alvarez said. "I think that's why you hear words being used like 'injustice.' It's time to correct this wrong."

The park project-which includes a city-owned parcel that backs into nearby Maple Canyon-is expected to be completed by 2016.

Write to joshuas@sdcitybeat.com.

Calendar

  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28