Two years ago, a Balboa Village Master Plan was created to help improve the city’s historic Balboa area, which includes the Fun Zone and businesses along Balboa Blvd.
A Neighborhood Revitalization Committee and a Balboa Village Citizen Advisory Panel were created to strategize and develop ways to revitalize the area.
At this week’s council meeting, council was asked to adopt Resolution No. 2014-92 that approved the Balboa Village Improvement Program, updated the Balboa Village Design Guidelines, approved the Streetscape Improvement Plan, approved the Wayfinding Sign Program, and approved the Façade Improvement Program.
The Balboa Village Improvement Program was presented to the city’s Planning Commission in September and October.
To explain the program to the council was Jami Williams, principal in RRM Design Group, who worked with the committees to develop the improvement design guidelines.
“This is a successful and exciting project,” she told the council as she explained the planned improvements. “The Streetscape program, which is focused on Balboa Blvd. and secondary Village streets, is part of phase one. Phase two is Main Street, and phase three is the waterfront area.”
Williams explained that the program encompasses new furnishings, and brings clarity and identity to the area, which she emphasized has spectacular character.
She went over the cost estimates for the project, which included $900,000 for Balboa Blvd. and secondary streets, $685,000 for Main Street, and nearly $1.5 million for the Fun Zone waterfront.
“The wayfinding program was put into place to create and unify a theme and identity, and works in tandem with the streetscape improvements,” Williams noted. “It complements the city-wide signage and creates a unique identity. The focus of the wayfinding program is to create connectivity.”
She said that the existing directional signage has a few flaws, including too much information on the signage. The new signage looks at reinforcing the theme and getting people to parking and key destinations within the village.
Williams showed several before and after examples of minor, moderate and major changes to existing buildings.
The overall idea is to freshen what is already there, she said.
Williams stated that the city would need to invest in façade improvements. Property owners feel rents are adequate and that further investments would not provide rent increase, so they will need financial incentives.
Council member Nancy Gardner asked about funding mechanisms to pay for these improvements, and was told that certain parking fees in Balboa Village will go to cover the costs of these improvements, and that the council will look at those strategies in November.
Council member Mike Henn, whose district includes Balboa Village, replied that the intent is to fund the program within the Balboa Village parking area.
Staff recommendation is to adopt the resolution approving the Balboa Village Improvement Program, and staff will return with a funding program and coordinate the final gateway signage design.
During the audience comment segment, the question of providing adequate parking for anticipated increased visitation to the area came up.
Council member Henn replied that a parking garage idea is still alive, but the council needs to see how requirements in the village develop. The city does have an intent to develop parking but does not have a plan yet, he added.
Council member Ed Selich asked to see a five to ten year plan on how to phase the improvements in, and how the Balboa arts center works into the plan.
Mayor Rush Hill said the report did not give enough consideration to sound installation and would like to see that addressed.
After comments were finished, the motion carried unanimously 7-0.