At his first-ever “State of Balboa Park” address San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria just briefly mentioned the city’s plan to allow a large-scale safe campground site to be set up in the park for people experiencing homelessness.
Gloria assured the pro-park audience at the San Diego Natural History Museum on May 24, 2023, that the much-debated and sorely needed shelter coming to the park will be “temporary.”
On request, a spokesperson from Gloria’s communications team pointed out via email that, “City law won’t permit this kind of use in the park to be permanent. No other details.”
Gloria’s State of Balboa event (akin on a smaller scale to the mayor’s annual State of the City address) primarily focused on a Prioritization Framework of park beautification and maintenance projects slated for the year.
Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre civic landmark that many consider a crown jewel of the city. It’s been recognized by USA Today as one of the Top 10 parks in the country.
The city park houses nearly two dozen cultural institutions and museums, as well as specialized gardens and other attractions.
Mayor Gloria noted in his address that the city relies on funding from the state and federal resources, as well as private contributions, to help pay for a backlogged list of work that needs to be done in the park.
The mayor also recognized longtime park advocate Betty Peabody during his State of Balboa Park address.
Peabody helped found the Balboa Park Millennium Society in 1999, a group that later became Friends of Balboa Park. In 2021, that nonprofit merged with the Balboa Park Conservancy. The new group is called Forever Balboa Park.
Gloria noted that he intends to “formalize” a role that Forever Balboa Park would have with the city.
Onstage, Gloria praised Peabody’s advocacy for the park and joked that giving her the Key to Balboa Park award probably will not stop her from “haranguing me.”
Peabody told the crowd she appreciated the award, and that yes, her haranguing of the mayor would continue unabated.
San Diego Sun photographer Sal Giametta attended the State of Balboa Park address and snapped these shots of the event: