Board of Sups endorses Balboa Park makeover plan

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The San Diego County Board of Supervisors this week
endorsed a privately funded, $40 million plan to make over Balboa Park to
eliminate cars from 6.3 acres.

The San Diego City Council is expected to discuss the proposal in July.

“On the whole this would be a very fine change for the park, for the
users of the park and for the many families,” said Ron Roberts, chairman of
the Board of Supervisors.

Although the project's ultimate approval rests with the city, Roberts
said the board's “interest should go beyond just being a passive observer.”

The Plaza de Panama Committee would divert the some 7,000 vehicles that
pass through the park each day — from the Cabrillo Bridge to the proposed
Centennial Bridge, through the Alcazar parking lot, then to a 785-space
underground garage near the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

The plan envisions a net gain of 273 additional parking spaces and a 30
percent increase in disabled parking. Parking fees would pay for a free tram.

“I see this as a plan that is minimally invasive and I do believe it's
an understated way to achieve the goal of getting the cars out of this historic
plaza,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob said.

Michael Hager, president and chief executive officer of the Natural
History Museum, said he was favor of the idea.

“The historic resources of the park will be appreciated much more when
people are free to look at the buildings without dealing with the traffic,” he
said.

Some preservationists and community activists were not so happy.

Bruce Coons, executive director of the Save Our Heritage Organisation,
said the park would look “like a business park in North County, not like the
Balboa Park we all love.”

Dionne Carlson of the North Park Planning Committee worried that the
bypass bridge could cause a “nightmarish circulation pattern in the Alcazar
Garden parking lot.”

Architect Bill Lewis presented an alternate plan that would divert some
parking to a garage under the central plazas, that he said would yield about
725 additional spaces. Roberts said Lewis' plan had some merit, but he
ultimately asked the board to support the Plaza de Panama Committee project.

Mayor Jerry Sanders, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce,
Downtown San Diego Partnership and the Gaslamp Quarter Association along with
numerous businesses, organizations and individuals previously voiced their
support for the plan.

Categories: KUSI