Balboa goes to court

by Ana Ceballos

A $45 million plan to reduce car traffic from the center of Balboa Park was called into question and set aside because the plan could violate San Diego’s municipal code.

The project was proposed by Qualcomm cofounder Irwin Jacobs in 2010 and financed through a $15 million parking revenue bond issued by the city and $25 million raised by Jacobs, according to a U-T San Diego article. The project was set to be completed by 2015 in time for Balboa Park’s centennial celebration.

On Friday, Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor voiced concerns of the Save Our Heritage Organisation, which filed to block the plan to avoid the construction of a bridge, which would divert traffic from the Plaza de California and Plaza de Panama, while declining to give an official ruling. SOHO argued it was agreed prior to approval of the Environmental Impact Report, which is against the law.

If the plan is put on hold, the 1915 Panama-California Exposition centennial celebration in the park would be difficult to proceed, Taylor said. But he also said in the 9-page tentative ruling “the positives from the project seem to far outweigh the negatives.”

The Plaza de Panama project is community-based. It has held more than 200 meetings and has seen “extreme community outreach and input,” according to a statement issued by the Plaza de Panama Committee.  The statement also said “it’s disappointing that SOHO has chosen to waste taxpayer dollars by suing the city of San Diego.”

The project was processed with a unanimous planning commission recommendation and a 6-1 City Council vote.

According to a letter to the editor to the Voice of San Diego, “this exciting opportunity has been marred by the opposition of a small group of people who would derail any public improvement.”