Last year, the city of San Diego revived its efforts to overhaul Balboa Park’s main square, the Plaza de Panama, which had for years been used a parking lot for visitors.

A lawsuit back in 2012 stalled the project for years, but the city recently approved a financing plan and scheduled the project to start in October.

The financing plan relies on bonds and paid parking to help pay the city’s $80 million share, and Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs and other local philanthropists have pledged to raise $30 million.

But two groups that oppose the effort have filed lawsuits to stop it.

On this week’s San Diego Explained, NBC 7’s Monica Dean and Voice of San Diego’s Lisa Halverstadt explain the Panama de Plaza revamp and take a closer look at the groups that want to block the project.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

    This article relates to: Balboa Park, News, San Diego Explained

    Written by Adriana Heldiz

    Adriana Heldiz is Voice of San Diego’s Assistant Digital Manager. She makes videos and helps manage the organization’s online presence. Adriana can be reached at

    Gregory May
    Gregory May subscriber


    Don Wood
    Don Wood subscriber

    Paid parking in Balboa Park is prohibited by the city charter, which requires that the park be available free to all city residents. If you have to pay to park, it is not free access.  Tall talk by philanthropists is just that. Show us the $30 million BEFORE any construction starts, not after. You don't have to build a new concrete bridge though the heart of Balboa Park to "improve it". The vast majority of Plaza De Panama is now car free. The mayor is trying to solve a problem that no longer exists, wasting millions in taxpayer money along the way to keep Dr. Jacob's happy.