Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
The one-hundred year-old public park that never was and may never be
The City is now being sued for finally taking back land in Bankers Hill donated to it as a public park in 1908
More than a century ago, three families donated a small 16,000-square-foot of land in Bankers Hill to the City of San Diego with the agreement that it be "forever" used as a public park.
Nearly 50 years ago, Doctor Milan Brandon and his land-investment firm, Beaver Investment Corporation, took that plot of land on Olive Street overlooking Maple Canyon for purposes of ingress and egress to his property.
Brandon did so with the City's permission, on one condition; that he "landscape, develop, and maintain as and for a public park."
And so it's remained. The issue wound up in court in 1981 when descendants of the McKee family sued the City and Brandon. The judge, however, ruled in favor of the City and the family eventually abandoned the cause.
In that time, Dr. Brandon and his family developed the park, turning it into their own private driveway with a paved driveway, and nicely landscaped shrubs.
Jump to 2008, members of the McKee family continued to push the City and Uptown Planning Group to repossess the land and turn it into a park. The Reader wrote an in-depth article about their efforts.
Shortly after family members and other residents were rewarded for their efforts when the City finally took control of the property. According to a June article in San Diego CityBeat, the City is turning the parking lot/driveway into a park, which is set to open sometime in 2016.
The issue, however, is far from over. On September 16, the Brandon Family Trust filed suit in San Diego Superior Court over the City's decision to repossess the parcel.
According to the complaint, the Brandon's and their tenants need that parcel in order to access the underground parking garage. They fear the City will cut off that access whenever they see fit.
"Brandon contends that as the owner of the Brandon Property he is entitled to enjoy the benefit of an implied reservation of easement of access over Vacated Olive Street, and is otherwise entitled to such right of access by reason of all the facts and circumstances here in above alleged, and that City has no right to stop him from continuing to use the same access over Vacated Olive Street as Brandon and his predecessors in interest have enjoyed for more than 105 years."
"City threatens to obstruct and prevent Brandon from using the access and to prevent his use by engaging in the self-help remedy of fencing off his access as soon as September 18, 2013.
"If not restrained by order of this court, City will obstruct and destroy Brandon's access over Vacated Olive Street, thereby causing Brandon irreparable damage, as Brandon will no longer have access to the Brandon Property, and in particular will have no access to the onsite parking garage, the front entrance, or the building lobby."
The family is asking that a judge step in and grant them a permanent easement to the property.