A little more than two years after an ambitious, controversial plan for Balboa Park was rejected by a San Diego Superior Court judge, the so-called Jacobs plan is back on the table – barely.
A few months have passed since a state appellate court overturned Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor’s ruling, clearing the way for San Diego to reconsider the project.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: Judge: Plaza de Panama Approval Violates City Law
Since then, two City Council candidates vying to represent Balboa Park’s neighborhood have said they wouldn’t support the project. The mayor has said the city would need some time to consider the impact. And it doesn’t even look like the Jacobs plan’s namesake backer will step back into the ring to bring the plan to fruition.
Meanwhile, the group most vocally opposed to the plan isn’t done with the legal fight — it recently filed a petition with the California Supreme Court that blocks any movement within the city.
It’s a new chapter in a years-long story for the city, but it’s tough to judge at this point how strong a chance the project has in its second life.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
It is time for the City to undertake planning for an underground parking structure at Inspiration Point, with park on top, and to delete the Organ Pavilion parking structure (w/ attendant bypass & roadway tunnel) from the Balboa Park Master Plan.
Even if Jacobs resumes his support of his plan, he never offered to pay for anything but the planning and environmental review. His stated intention was for the Plaza de Panama Committee to raise the money to pay for the bypass and parking garage.
The "small changes" of The Plaza de Panama Committee's Jacobs Plan have big consequences for Balboa Park's future. It stamps The Park as a car centric destination, even though history now shows that cars create more problems than solutions. The bypass bridge, valet parking lot, trenched road with fences separating The International Cottages and The Spreckels Organ Pavilion, and a 3 story parking garage that potentially endangers The Organ while removing over 10,000 truckloads of earth to cover the hazardous Arizona Landfill on East Balboa Park Mesa is a poor solution to a Big Problem. It will create even more waiting and idling cars.
A comprehensive solution should include a multi-modal building at Inspiration Point that links to a Central Mesa shuttle system through a tunnel underneath Park Boulevard. The Central Mesa shuttle system could travel behind The Ford Building to Pan Pacific Plaza. A secondary line could run north along the west side of Park Boulevard to Old Globe Way, then along Old Globe Way to the backside of the Globe's Administration Building to the breezeway between The California Building (Museum of Man) and the MoM Administration building to the Cabrillo Bridge and over to Sixth Avenue and West Mesa.
The shuttle system should be electric and virtually silent running.
Access by All of the Public is the solution, not access by those owning cars and driving to Balboa Park.
Balboa Park should be a safe place to walk, but it’s not safe now with cars driving through the middle of the park. The Plaza de Panama project, that the City Council has already approved, would get the weekend bumper to bumper traffic jam off the Prado, out of the Plaza de California, and out of the Plaza de Panama; and give the park back to people. It would also spend money on deferred maintenance and give us much needed new parking.
Do you have trouble finding parking at Balboa Park on a Sunday afternoon? The last time we went all the lots were full; we had to park outside the park and walk in.
We need more parking in Balboa, but taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for a free underground parking garage. Let the people who want to park close pay for it. That will free up parking for the rest of us; 80% of the parking would still be free.
People already pay to park at Balboa if they don’t want to walk. We have valet parking there now, that’s paid parking.
Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward need to think about this again. City of San Diego taxpayers should not have to pay for a “free” parking garage for tourists. Take out a bond and let the tourists pay for it. That’s what the Uptown Planners who represent communities around the park voted for, and that’s what the City Council voted for.
While I don't disagree with you, I just don't think these changes are urgently needed. We parked near 6th street and crossed the bridge. That is technically in the park and there were enough spaces.
And while cars can drive in one lane on the Prado, it was fairly pedestrian friendly. I had small children with me and it was still comfortable.
If you want more parking add another bridge near the SW corner. This would bring the unused parking at that corner of the park into play.
Combine this with the freeway lid and you could walk from little Italy to the Prado in 20 minutes. This would fill the desperate need to reconnect these parts of the city.
While improving the Prado is a nice idea, I don't think it is an urgent need. The Prado is in reasonably good condition and it is reasonably friendly to pedestrians. I was just there this weekend.
Something much more desperately needed, however, and more worthy of Mr. Jacob's resources and influence, would be the freeway lid at Cortez Hill. This would begin at at the southwestern corner of Balboa park, not too far from the Prado. It would extend pedestrian and park space almost down to little Italy.
Right now that walk from Balboa to little Italy is very unpleasant and confusing, and it should not be so. The 5 freeway cuts a huge gash into what should be an otherwise very walkable part of the city. The freeway lid would fix that.
This resulting new park space could potentially be connected to the Prado via a new bridge (perhaps just for pedestrians) named after the Jacobs family.
This would be a major and worthwhile upgrade to the current park layout.
Of course, even the very wealthy Mr. Jacobs could not afford to fund the El Cortez freeway lid, but this is where his influence would be critical.
I have no doubt that if Mr. Jacobs led a well organized effort, perhaps making some important phone calls to California Senators Finestein and Boxer, this project could get moving, and Mr. Jacobs would get his legacy bridge in Balboa Park that we could all enjoy.
It would be similar to the Rose Kennedy park in Boston created during the big dig, which was Ted Kennedy's last great pork barrel success. Beats sending our money to Iraq.
Why is the media continuing to beat this dead horse of an idea? Poll the public to see who wants to build a huge new concrete bridge through the heart of the park. I know we get slow news days, but stop flogging this idea whose time has long passed.
The new employee parking garage will free up over 600 "new" parking spaces in the Zoo lot for park visitors. The Plaza De Panama is free of cars and parking. Let it go.
Hopefully we won't waste more taxpayers money on the ill conceived Jacob's/Sander's bypass bridge plan.
SOHO and other preservationists fought this historically destructive plan for the 1914 Cabrillo Bridge.
Former Mayor Filner took the correct approach of eliminating parking in the Plaza de Panama at a fraction of the cost of other plans. What was overlooked is tourists cars and tourist buses give tourists a preview of the plaza by being able to pass through. Tourism is frequently hyped as being a major revenue source in this city.
Why wouldn't we consider allowing parking charges in the park to be collected and solely used for the upkeep of the park? People can take public transit, bike or park outside and walk into the park if they don't want to pay. I think a parking fee by default will help drive other forms of transportation to use the park and provide a needed financial boost to help with park infrastructure.
The parking structure and garage were hideous structures as proposed which would have seriously damaged the open look of the park. I go to the park often and do not have any more trouble finding parking than going to the mall or Walmart. If they insist on building a parking structure access can be provided from Park blvd without having to build a bridge through the heart of the park.
I now realize that Dr. Irwin Jacobs' Plaza de Panama Plan may be the only way to rid cars and traffic entirely from inside the park, which would make it a lot more beautiful because of its tranquility in the middle of a bustling city.
I just hope that the Jacobs' family would fund the entire project through some sort of Giving Pledge and proceeds from the parking garage.
@Tammy Tran You're wrong - the plan would bring more cars into the Central Mesa, just re-route them through a quiet parking lot immediately adjacent to the tranquil Alcazar Garden, which would no long be tranquil because of through foot traffic from the 2-lanes for valet service. With paid parking in the garage, drivers would head for the non-paid parking at the Pan-American Plaza (Ford Building lot), or behind the Federal Building by Park Blvd. or over at Inspiration Point, using the shuttles to reach Plaza de Panama, as today.. There would still be backed-up traffic at high-use times, just as today, it would still be across the Cabrillo Bridge and slowed by the turns on and off the bypass, and by pedestrians coming and going on the bridge.
Proceeds from the parking garage would not pay for the bonds + interest + operating expenses. SF's Golden Gate Park parking garage demonstrates that; parking fees are by the hour there and much higher than the $5 fee proposed here yet the park director had to request increases in February 2012 because of the deficit in revenue. As here, people would most likely park there for special events when the park is full or at night. Most of the time, the garage would be at least half empty or worse (based on fluctuations described for the Golden Gate Park garage).
I'm of the opinion that the Cabrillo Bridge should be closed to auto traffic altogether. I don't see the point of having a bypass road run from the bridge to a parking structure. Just direct all of the traffic to Park Blvd where there can be a separate entrance and exit to a parking structure (if it's determined there's a need for one at all).
"The idea that we’re gonna have paid parking in Balboa Park was something that really, really troubled me. Balboa Park has always been free for everybody, for the public, and to be able to come there and enjoy a Saturday or Sunday afternoon free of charge – we shouldn’t have a requirement for paid parking."
For the same reason, the museums and restaurants should also be free, right? Or is free admission for cars more important than free admission for people? I don't think Mr. Ward thought this one through.
@Derek Hofmann Unless City Council imposes fee parking on all Balboa Park parking lots, the single proposed fee parking is for the Organ Pavilion structure. With free parking in all other areas, the fee parking is the last place drivers will choose to go. You cannot equate museums and restaurants, operated by non-City entities on City parkland, and trying to do so is a failure of logic.
@Judith Swink If you are correct that charging anything for parking would make everyone park elsewhere, then all they have to do to free up some parking spaces at the Organ Pavilion is to charge a penny for parking. That doesn't sound so bad.
I'm not sure what defines "Preservation" and what defines "Progress". But I can understand separating vehicles and pedestrians and making it easier to visit our beloved Park. I don't recall whether or not there were contemporaneous protests, but I can recall the days when we could drive through the Prado from Park Boulevard to Sixth Avenue until someone decided to construct a fountain in front of the Natural History Museum. Well, we have survived that historical desecration and it would seem that everyone is better off for it. For Heaven' sake, people, build the bypass bridge and the garage (for those who are willing to pay a small fee for the convenience) and keep the free parking and tram from across Park Boulevard and lets get on with our lives.