Patty O’Reilly of La Mesa has visited Balboa Park regularly for more than seven decades.
These days, the 77-year-old usually schedules her visits around when she thinks she’ll find handicapped parking in the small lot next to the Alcazar Garden, not far from the Old Globe Theatre she loves.
“Sooner or later you learn,” said O’Reilly, who felt sore for days after parking farther away.
And twice a week, 28-year-old Alex Perez circles the lot near the municipal gym in Balboa Park, where he plays basketball, in search of a disabled spot. If he doesn’t find one, he’ll have to propel his manual wheelchair up the hill behind the Hall of Champions before a two-hour practice – and carefully down after that.
“It’s a hassle,” said Perez.
Their stories aren’t isolated. Balboa Park isn’t always an inviting place for people with mobility limitations despite city efforts to improve accessibility.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
If I read the story correctly, several of the disabled people complaining about parking had never even tried to ride the shuttle giving pretty poor excuses such as they were not sure whether the shuttles were accessible and made no real effort to find out. Since the shuttles run quite often waiting at a stop to find out would not have been a long wait. Disabled people who had actually ridden the shuttles said they were fine and the staff were helpful and attentive. As much as I respect the work of Lisa her stories on Balboa Park appear to be part of the VOSD effort to support the cause of Irwin Jacobs. I think they should have put a disclaimer at the end of this story about Jacobs being a major supporter of VOSD. The Plaza de Panama project will, as Bruce Coons pointed out, not improve access in the Park. It would be much much cheaper to fix the problems with the lot behind the Organ Pavilion and improve the sidewalks etc than go ahead with the Plaza de Panama Project. Just because Irwin Jacobs has done many good things for the City, that doesn't mean he gets a pass on the Plaza de Panama Project. If we have learned anything about Irwin Jacobs in this effort is that he carries a grudge if people don't fall over themselves thanking him for any of his ideas.
The Plaza de Panama project significantly reduces present access, ADA spaces will be reduced in number. Present drop off for the Museum of Man, Old Globe, Mingei, House of Hospitality Museum of Art, Timkin etc will be eliminated and distance greatly increased. ADA pathways will become greatly lengthened and become circuitous.
Outrageous that the Voice of San Diego is posting articles of this type without mentioning the financial support you get from the park-destroyer himself, Irwin Jacobs. I'm not reading any of this carefully (VOSD articles seem to be endlessly repetitive, and require us, the reader, to sort through the copy to find anything new) but didn't you used to put a disclaimer, that the VOSD was supported by significant financial support from Irwin Jacobs? Where is it for this article? Anything dealing with "Balboa Park" or "parking" there is going to be scrutinized, to see if it is biased - in small or large ways - in favor of the appalling Jacobs bridge/parking garage "plan." I oppose the destruction of the bridge, and I oppose paid parking in a garage or otherwise.
@Kristen Aliotti No, Ms. Aliotti, what is "outrageous" and "appalling" is your unwarranted, callous and disrespectful public lashing of Irwin Jacobs. What, exactly, have YOU done for this city? All Mr. Jacobs has done is put forward a beautifully innovative proposal for restoring Balboa Park's original pedestrian-oriented tranquility, while simultaneously solving a long-standing shortage of parking. I assure you that your miopic and self-absorbed views are NOT shared by the majority of San Diegans, thankfully, who treasure Mr. Jacobs, his selfless generosity and love for this city.
What part of generous philanthropic citizen do you have a problem with? Why not embrace and look for solutions rather systematically reject?
The fact that the trams were ordered and even arrived. without a location and design for refueling stations tells you all you need to know about how well the tram system was planned out.
And the Jacobs plan will make so access issues Much worse. Such as how the current dropoff location on the street in front of the Globe and the Museum of Man would be about 5 times farther away. And how the "ditch" road offers no pedestrian shoulder for cars that break down under there.
Maybe we could start with recalling all the unnecessary handicap place cards in circulation and make issuance more restrictive. Some people would benefit from a walk rather than up close parking and still others could be dropped off and the car parked elsewhere. We live in a City with ideal weather yet resist getting out of our homes and cars to get a little exercise.
@TJ Apple Perhaps you are not aware of the many, like myself, who live with an "invisible" disability (or disabilities) but require disabled parking so as not exhaust oneself before the destination (often much cooler) is even reached. Exhaustion: Unable to stand any longer, potential for falling - high.
When people make comments as you did, it requires those of us who look healthy to actually have to explain to others why we need to use a disabled spot.
After getting my car keyed at a Target store where I used my placard, but walked away without "looking" disabled, I decided I would have to do more to prevent the reactions and further damage to my car (there have been other incidences as well). Because of the misunderstandings and ignorance of others, and to educate them, I made an additional signs to put in my car windows explaining that, "Yes, I can walk, but it hurts a lot" with a small bulleted list of what my disease issues are.
If I am hearing correctly that this plan only includes 16 disabled spots in the proposed parking structure, then I know this is going to be a very serious problem for the disabled! Providing quotes from some of the disabled who have used the tram successfully will do little to convince the rest of us that this is the way to go.
Many of us have written articles and know how powerful some quotes can be, but this is not convincing most of us who are already heavily impacted. I showed up for Food Truck Fridays a few weeks ago. Had to park in the lot behind the Organ Pavilion where the disabled spots were all lumped together in two long rows but not close to the walking paths, not really protected from the traffic in the lot, nor conveniently located to the Prado. If it was a struggle for me to walk the longer distance, I can only imagine the struggle for those using wheelchairs or other mobility aids.
Exactly, let's get rid of the unwarranted handicap stickers and there will be plenty of parking spaces for you and others . . . I think you actually agree with what I am saying but too quick to think everyone is judging you.
@TJ Apple How exactly would you get rid of "unwarranted stickers"? DMV investigators to visit each and every house? And how would you pay for that?
The Jacobs project isn't necessary for turning the Alcazar Garden lot into exclusively ADA parking. The Jacobs plan will change the parking spaces to ADA and valet parking but, because of the through lanes and valet drop-off lanes of the Jacobs plan taking up a substantial part of that lot plus the required additional width of ADA spaces, the existing spaces will be reduced to a fraction of the existing 130 spaces. Changing to ADA only without the through roads and valet drop-off lanes would reduce that number far less. The City need only come up with the money to level the lot so all of it is Accessible.... but instead, City Council voted to spend that money in assisting the Plan to get moving.
I don't understand why the tram cannot stop on Pan-American Way across from the International Cottages and just past that entrance to the Organ Pavilion lot. That is immediately adjacent to the ADA spaces in that lot. Surely the time to help people board the tram isn't so great that people driving up toward Plaza de Panama - it's not as if the vehicle drivers are racing to get to work or to meet a deadline!
We have to stop and wait behind San Diego buses on public streets when we're unlucky (or unwary) enough to be in the same lane and cannot pull into the lane to the left, so why not the tram as well. It seems to me that service to handicapped visitors should override the possible delays for people going up to and perhaps through the Plaza to exit from the west.
There once was a stop opposite the Federal Building (Hall of Champions) parking lot which also can serve the handicapped users in that lot but I think those stops (in and out) have been eliminated. Do we want to forever give priority to private vehicles and those who can easily walk up the grades in question?
Sounds like the issue isn't the quality of the free tram system (judging by user comments), or the lack of handicapped parking, but the city's ineffective communication of tram capabilities and benefits, complicated by the reluctance of some individuals to try something new. I'm personally looking forward to the implementation of the Plaza de Panama Plan.