Most of the park’s institutions had originally supported the Balboa Park bypass plan championed by philanthropist Irwin Jacobs and a nonprofit group called the Plaza de Panama Committee. That plan was much more complex and involved than Filner’s, and at $45 million was much pricier too.
The so-called Jacobs Plan, though, was thrown out by a Superior Court judge. This summer, an appellate court overturned that decision and the state Supreme Court refused to consider another appeal. So the city can legally proceed, but it remains unclear whether Jacobs and city leaders will resurrect it.
While the politics behind the plaza continue to unfurl, the park’s been left with Filner’s version. When the parking spots were first painted over, the newly minted pedestrian promenade sat nearly empty for weeks. Someone drove through the wide, open space and did donuts in the plaza. Those black skid marks served as a good reminder that something more needed to be done.
A city spokesperson said plaza design was always meant to be a slow process that came only after officials studied the way people were actually using the space. Over the years, the city and the Balboa Park Conservancy have added furniture and other aesthetic improvements to the plaza, as well as new parking spaces to make up for those taken away.
And now there’s an effort by the San Diego Museum of Art to improve the space further.