San Diego

A San Diego City Council committee decided Wednesday to send some advice to the San Diego Unified Port District, which is embroiled in a controversy over a proposed publicly funded sculpture.

The Public Services and Safety Committee wants to recommend procedures on public expenditures to port commissioners. The action is in response to the controversy surrounding a proposed $400,000 sculpture by nationally acclaimed artist Ellsworth Kelly that the Port District is considering for Embarcadero Park near Seaport Village.

The committee’s resolution, which must be approved by the full council, would advise the commissioners that any action involving expenditure of public funds include public hearings; that the port’s arts advisory committee hold public hearings and that the port “listen to the facts and listen to the testimony of concerned citizens” in matters involving public expenditures.

There have been many complaints about the process that resulted in the solicitation of Kelly’s design by the Port District’s arts advisory committee.


Wednesday’s action followed testimony by a group of citizens complaining that the Port District is not under anyone’s authority. A leader of the group, La Jolla art gallery owner Leslie Jones, said that “real, hard issues have surfaced. This has nothing to do with the Kelly piece, but with the selection process itself.”

The committee’s call for the resolution came despite recommendations from its staff that the matter was inappropriate.