City to Sell McDonald’s Massacre Lot, Erect Plaque

Times Staff Writer

The city of San Diego is seeking to heal lingering emotional wounds nearly three years after the massacre at a San Ysidro McDonald’s by selling off the former restaurant site and marking the spot where 21 people were killed with a sidewalk plaque and a small, landscaped memorial.

City Councilwoman Celia Ballesteros announced Tuesday that the families of massacre victims she contacted wanted more than a flat marker placed in the sidewalk next to the site.

Ballesteros said that as a result of the families’ concerns, a 200-square-foot corner of the lot will be reserved as a memorial, which she described as “a natural place with greenery, perhaps some trees and bushes . . . perhaps a rock with a small brass plaque . . . saying something very simple.”


Met Victims’ Families

Ballesteros, whose council district includes San Ysidro, said she had tried to talk to all family members of victims shot by James Huberty during the July 18, 1984, shooting spree in the fast-food restaurant and concluded that “they have suffered enough and want to bring this sad chapter in San Ysidro’s history to a conclusion.”

An earlier announcement by the city that the 75,000-square-foot lot would be sold was made without consulting families and survivors of the massacre, Ballesteros said, and caused ill will among the mostly Latino group, who felt their wishes had been ignored.

“I am uneasy,” she said. “This is a very sensitive issue.”

Community Split

The San Ysidro community has been split between those who want the former restaurant site turned into a memorial park and those who say such a such a memorial would revive memories of the massacre, not of the victims.

Joan Kroc, the McDonald’s Corp. major stockholder, ordered the restaurant on W. San Ysidro Boulevard razed shortly after the mass shooting and later deeded the lot over to the city.

Under a plan to be discussed today by a City Council committee and sent to the full council in about a week, the property--with the exception of the small memorial site--will be sold. Proceeds from the sale will be used either to expand a park in another part of San Ysidro or to accomplish some other project benefiting the community.