Fiscal crunch stymies Daly City centennial 

Tension surrounds Daly City as the Big 100 looms on March 22.

The economic downturn has local officials in disagreement about the nature of the city’s centennial celebration: Many want a parade, but Daly City is not financially prepared to fund an event of such magnitude.

“All we hear is ‘economy, economy, economy,’” City Councilman David Canepa said. “Despite the recession, we need to make the centennial as grand as possible; we can’t short-change it. We need to find corporate sponsors who will work with us to showcase all that Daly City has to offer.”

It is hoped that local organizations will lend a hand in the centennial events projected to run until April 2012. Residents are encouraged to apply as volunteers for a new planning committee that will advise the City Council about appropriate events the city should sponsor.

“The committee will need to understand, however, that all celebrations will need to be funded from outside the city,” City Manager Pat Martell said. “The centennial is an important moment for us to remember our history, and we need the community to help determine what milestones should be celebrated.”

While finances are up for debate, Canepa envisions a parade running all the way down John Daly Boulevard and ending at the Westlake Shopping Center, a route that incorporates the rich history of Daly City.

Back in 1906, John Daly opened up his farmland on the hill to house those who were affected by the great earthquake and fire. The top of the hill is still a landmark and now hosts a War Memorial, one of the great developments of Daly City in the past 100 years, as it supplies the community with a central location for recreation activities and a library.

Westlake Shopping Center was  among the first outdoor malls to be built in California and has been a major milestone in the development of Daly City’s economy. Although Daly City has few resources, it still has been able to offer vital services to its residents.

“We are not rich but we provide a great quality of life for our residents,” Martell said.

As the largest city in San Mateo County, Daly City is home to about 98,000 people and a diverse array of cultures; Asians represent the majority, comprising 53 percent of the population, while Filipinos make up 35 percent.

“This needs to be a centennial for our residents,” Canepa said. “We have to make sure we bring everyone together and celebrate the diversity and culture of Daly City.”

The main purpose of the centennial commemoration, Canepa said, is to bring the community back into focus. Through a parade, all residents will be able to showcase their talents and celebrate what makes Daly City such a unique place.

shaughey@sfexaminer.com

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