Impermanence Is Key to Filner’s Balboa Park Plan

Impermanence Is Key to Filner’s Balboa Park Plan

Photo by Sam Hodgson

The Cabrillo Bridge at Balboa Park will be closed for a few months. The park is re-branding that mild annoyance as a chance to explore its West End.

 

It’s only temporary.

The crowd was largely relieved Wednesday night as Mayor Bob Filner shared his non-permanent plan to clear cars from Balboa Park’s central mesa.

The mayor wants to strip the signs and parking lines from the Plaza de Panama and return it to pedestrians. That will require relocating handicap parking spots to the lot behind the Alcazar Garden and valet behind The Prado restaurant. Filner also proposes closing the Cabrillo Bridge on weekends and holidays, though he’d allow two-way traffic on weekdays.

The latter has been controversial but Filner at least initially quelled most concerns with an emphasis on its impermanence. He also noted that an already slated construction project that will close the beloved bridge for four months early next year is conveniently timed.

If a certain element doesn’t work, the mayor said, the city can try something else.

“We’re serious about this but we want your input,” he said.

He’s likely to get it from nearby residents concerned about increased traffic on Park Boulevard and other streets, as well as those in Bankers Hill who suspect park visitors will crowd their neighborhoods with cars. (We detailed these and other challenges associated with closing the bridge.)

Filner didn’t detail specific plans for gathering public feedback but said the City Council will need to weigh in on his proposal.

He’s hoping for a quick turnaround.

Filner provided a timeline to Voice of San Diego:

Phase 1: Close Cabrillo Bridge to weekend traffic and add 25 parking spots for disabled park visitors in the lot behind the Spreckels Organ Pavilion by May 31.

Phase 2: Erect barriers — which could be bollards or another temporary blockade — to keep motorists out of the Plaza de Panama and move the valet drop-off area to the parking lot south of Casa de Balboa. Filner hopes this will happen in June.

Phase 3: Add disabled parking spots in the lot behind Alcazar Garden in July, the beginning of the new fiscal year. Presumably, this is when Filner would have access to the $300,000 he included for the temporary traffic plan in his proposed budget. He can use the cash to smooth the sloped parking lot and add signs, planters and café seating to the Plaza de Panama.

Filner’s proposal represents a much cheaper approach than philanthropist Irwin Jacobs’ blueprint. Jacobs, co-founder of telecommunications giant Qualcomm (and a major supporter of VOSD) offered significant cash for a $45 million plan to build a bypass to keep cars out of the historic archway of the Cabrillo Bridge and a three-story parking garage behind the Organ Pavilion. (Here’s what the plan would have looked like.)

A judge effectively nixed that idea in a February ruling that found the city violated its own rules in approving Jacobs’ plan. Jacobs told KPBS he was done with the project, though Filner said Wednesday night that he plans to contact the philanthropist to see whether he’d like to assist with his temporary solution.

What do you think of Filner’s temporary plan to clear traffic from the Plaza de Panama? Will it work, or could it result in headaches the mayor isn’t anticipating?

Lisa Halverstadt is a reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at lisa.halverstadt@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0528.

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Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa Halverstadt is a reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at lisa@vosd.org or 619.325.0528.

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57 comments
David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

I would like to see cafe-style seating for part of it, perhaps outside the Sculpture Court Cafe. BTW, where IS the sculpture, aside from one piece, now that the grass has been replaced?

fryefan
fryefan

I would like to see cafe-style seating for part of it, perhaps outside the Sculpture Court Cafe. BTW, where IS the sculpture, aside from one piece, now that the grass has been replaced?

Judith Swink
Judith Swink subscriber

The plan presented by the Mayor is, for the most part, the plan adopted in the 1989 Master Plan, a plan arrived at through public consensus during an almost 10 year process, and is essentially the plan advocated by so many who objected to the Jacobs Plan.

LibraryLover
LibraryLover

The plan presented by the Mayor is, for the most part, the plan adopted in the 1989 Master Plan, a plan arrived at through public consensus during an almost 10 year process, and is essentially the plan advocated by so many who objected to the Jacobs Plan.

e1290d6e-b03f-11e2-b679-10604b9f1388
e1290d6e-b03f-11e2-b679-10604b9f1388

Fred: your heading in the right direction with that, but there are many great things that could happen temporarily on that space besides school things. Many of remember that Frank Lloyd Wright house and its Prairie grass that was there for a few months. I also went to an interesting Japanese fair there once. But some of the biggest drivers if the Jacobs plan were the adjacent museums ( Mingei and Museum of Man especially) who wanted to have cafés there. Nobody wants to run a museum any more, the real profit is in food service, I guess. So there will be a big push from them to have done sort of compromise and be allowed to put food service out there. It is less likely to be the hotdog and Chipwich carts and more likely to be "Folklore Bentos" or "Anthroburgers".

Erik Hanson
Erik Hanson subscriber

Patrick: technically, you wouldn't have to take out the Evanson Fountain, the road could jog onto Village Drive at the current end of El Prado. Having said that, I believe it about the craziest and most stillborn idea I have heard in quite a while.

hardcover
hardcover

Patrick: technically, you wouldn't have to take out the Evanson Fountain, the road could jog onto Village Drive at the current end of El Prado. Having said that, I believe it about the craziest and most stillborn idea I have heard in quite a while.

Fred Williams
Fred Williams subscriber

I applaud Mayor Filner for listening to the citizens of San Diego.

Fred_Williams
Fred_Williams

I applaud Mayor Filner for listening to the citizens of San Diego.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross subscribermember

The other main thing this city needs is more year around homeless shelter particularly for our homeless veterans. Jacobs should be approached to fund that and he could put his name on that building. It could even be a renovation of an existing vacant building as there are many of those around the city. It would be a nicer 2015 celebration to not have so many homeless on our streets when all the tourists are here.

Activist
Activist

The other main thing this city needs is more year around homeless shelter particularly for our homeless veterans. Jacobs should be approached to fund that and he could put his name on that building. It could even be a renovation of an existing vacant building as there are many of those around the city. It would be a nicer 2015 celebration to not have so many homeless on our streets when all the tourists are here.

Patrick Flynn
Patrick Flynn subscriber

You want to take out the fountain outside the Ruben Fleet and make a street all the way from Park to Laurel? I don't think you're going to get much support for that idea.

patrick_flynn
patrick_flynn

You want to take out the fountain outside the Ruben Fleet and make a street all the way from Park to Laurel? I don't think you're going to get much support for that idea.

Walter Chambers
Walter Chambers subscribermember

Bravo to Mayor Filner for having the guts and vision to do this. I think his plan and his willingness to take a risk are both exciting and commendable.

WaltSDCA
WaltSDCA

Bravo to Mayor Filner for having the guts and vision to do this. I think his plan and his willingness to take a risk are both exciting and commendable.

Cooper Pilot
Cooper Pilot subscriber

e through the park like we used to.

Scott Hasson
Scott Hasson subscriber

We all cant say that this is not a starter because I think it is.

scotthasson
scotthasson

We all cant say that this is not a starter because I think it is.

Judith Swink
Judith Swink subscriber

I would suggest that improvements to the Plaza de California, the usually empty plaza across from the Museum of Man, could have been done years ago (potted trees, chairs/benches, tables w/umbrellas, food carts) and should be among the first improvements implemented by the Mayor under his proposal.

LibraryLover
LibraryLover

I would suggest that improvements to the Plaza de California, the usually empty plaza across from the Museum of Man, could have been done years ago (potted trees, chairs/benches, tables w/umbrellas, food carts) and should be among the first improvements implemented by the Mayor under his proposal.

Judith Swink
Judith Swink subscriber

The plan proposed by Filner will remove the same 70 or so spaces in the Plaza de Panama that the Jacobs proposal would have done, and the Alcazar Garden lot will retain the 130 (or so) spaces existing today instead of the reduction to 26 ADA-only spaces plus a similar number of valet spaces proposed in the Jacobs plan. ADA spaces will increase in number in the Alcazar lot but there also will be non-ADA spaces as is the case today (a mix of ADA and non-ADA).

LibraryLover
LibraryLover

The plan proposed by Filner will remove the same 70 or so spaces in the Plaza de Panama that the Jacobs proposal would have done, and the Alcazar Garden lot will retain the 130 (or so) spaces existing today instead of the reduction to 26 ADA-only spaces plus a similar number of valet spaces proposed in the Jacobs plan. ADA spaces will increase in number in the Alcazar lot but there also will be non-ADA spaces as is the case today (a mix of ADA and non-ADA).

Patrick Flynn
Patrick Flynn subscriber

Frankly, that's nonsense. There is plenty of free parking available in Balboa Park. There is a huge parking lot south of Park Blvd / North of the 5. This parking lot is serviced by the free park tram, and the only times I have see this lot full are for Christmas on the Prado and Earth Day. Removing 56 parking spaces from the Plaza de Panama will have a de minimis effect on overall parking.

patrick_flynn
patrick_flynn

Frankly, that's nonsense. There is plenty of free parking available in Balboa Park. There is a huge parking lot south of Park Blvd / North of the 5. This parking lot is serviced by the free park tram, and the only times I have see this lot full are for Christmas on the Prado and Earth Day. Removing 56 parking spaces from the Plaza de Panama will have a de minimis effect on overall parking.

john eisenhart
john eisenhart subscriber

Regarding Jacob's Folly: The parking garage was entirely on the city's dime not to mention any cost overrun for the entire project. Explain how this would cost the city zero? Please stop spreading lies. Bob's plan is smarter and way less risk.

mr architect
mr architect

Regarding Jacob's Folly: The parking garage was entirely on the city's dime not to mention any cost overrun for the entire project. Explain how this would cost the city zero? Please stop spreading lies. Bob's plan is smarter and way less risk.

Erik Hanson
Erik Hanson subscriber

Sharon: you know better than that. The City already spent $2 million + under Mayor Sanders in support of the project. And the bond issue which was called "risky" by the Independent analyst (and possibly was not even legal) could have cost several times that. Filner's project could have been paid for 5 or 6 times by now, on what they wasted.

hardcover
hardcover

Sharon: you know better than that. The City already spent $2 million + under Mayor Sanders in support of the project. And the bond issue which was called "risky" by the Independent analyst (and possibly was not even legal) could have cost several times that. Filner's project could have been paid for 5 or 6 times by now, on what they wasted.

David Hall
David Hall subscriber

If you honestly believe that the Jacob's plan wasn't going to cost the city anything, they you haven't been paying attention for the last few decades.

sdguy
sdguy

If you honestly believe that the Jacob's plan wasn't going to cost the city anything, they you haven't been paying attention for the last few decades.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

Preventing the parking lots from filling up completely by encouraging parking turnover and discouraging people from hogging parking spaces all day will allow more people to visit the park, not fewer.

Derek
Derek

Preventing the parking lots from filling up completely by encouraging parking turnover and discouraging people from hogging parking spaces all day will allow more people to visit the park, not fewer.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross subscribermember

As usual Don woods comments arecorrect and to the point. I attended the mayor's presentation at Balboa Park and over 95% of the public agreed with the traffic pattern. He was also very open to suggestions. Now we need to move ahead.

Activist
Activist

As usual Don woods comments arecorrect and to the point. I attended the mayor's presentation at Balboa Park and over 95% of the public agreed with the traffic pattern. He was also very open to suggestions. Now we need to move ahead.

Jim Peugh
Jim Peugh subscribermember

The Jacobs plan would have doomed the bridge to being dominated by cars forever. It would be great if the bridge would evolve an extension of a car free Prado for pedestrians bikes, low speed trams, and emergency vehicles when needed. It could be lined with food carts, entertainers, art for sale, drinking fountains, benches, potted plants, etc. I hope that the Mayor's plan is a step in that evolution.

trevor
trevor

The Jacobs plan would have doomed the bridge to being dominated by cars forever. It would be great if the bridge would evolve an extension of a car free Prado for pedestrians bikes, low speed trams, and emergency vehicles when needed. It could be lined with food carts, entertainers, art for sale, drinking fountains, benches, potted plants, etc. I hope that the Mayor's plan is a step in that evolution.

Tammy Tran
Tammy Tran subscriber

Suggest that the Mayor and the City Council formally ask Dr. Irwin Jacobs to reconsider supporting the temporary solution to the Balboa Park Plan.

TammyT
TammyT

Suggest that the Mayor and the City Council formally ask Dr. Irwin Jacobs to reconsider supporting the temporary solution to the Balboa Park Plan.

Sharon Gehl
Sharon Gehl subscribermember

The new proposal for Balboa Park is slated to cost the City $300,000, while the Plaza de Panama Project wouldn’t have cost the City anything. Which is cheaper?

Sharon Gehl
Sharon Gehl

The new proposal for Balboa Park is slated to cost the City $300,000, while the Plaza de Panama Project wouldn’t have cost the City anything. Which is cheaper?

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

A frequent tram system that costs maybe fifty cents a ride and covers the remote parking areas will solve a lot of the “driving around” mess that occurs on busy days (Don’t panic, Jim Jones, the world can’t be free here any more than it is elsewhere). Who knows, it might even get more people using public transportation to get to the park, once they see that transport inside the park is realistic.

toulon
toulon

A frequent tram system that costs maybe fifty cents a ride and covers the remote parking areas will solve a lot of the “driving around” mess that occurs on busy days (Don’t panic, Jim Jones, the world can’t be free here any more than it is elsewhere). Who knows, it might even get more people using public transportation to get to the park, once they see that transport inside the park is realistic.

Don Wood
Don Wood subscriber

The mayor's proposal is consistent with the already approved Balboa Park Master Plan, so it won't require the kind of environmental review that sunk Dr. Jacobs incredibly expensive and disruptive bridge plan. It is also about $35 million less expensive then Jacobs proposal, and is based on a whole lot more common sense than Jerry Sanders and Jacobs demonstrated. Kudos to the mayor for taking a good first step that gets parking out of the center of the park. Balboa Park should be for people, not for cars.

Don Wood
Don Wood

The mayor's proposal is consistent with the already approved Balboa Park Master Plan, so it won't require the kind of environmental review that sunk Dr. Jacobs incredibly expensive and disruptive bridge plan. It is also about $35 million less expensive then Jacobs proposal, and is based on a whole lot more common sense than Jerry Sanders and Jacobs demonstrated. Kudos to the mayor for taking a good first step that gets parking out of the center of the park. Balboa Park should be for people, not for cars.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

Yes, the park is increasingly for the fewer privileged and also people who walk, bike, carpool, take mass transit, or visit the park during quieter periods when the fees are lower or free. Everyone else just will no longer be able to visit the park.

Derek
Derek

Yes, the park is increasingly for the fewer privileged and also people who walk, bike, carpool, take mass transit, or visit the park during quieter periods when the fees are lower or free. Everyone else just will no longer be able to visit the park.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

The death of a thousand cuts, get ready for paid zoo parking when the zoo lots start overflowing, and a park that is increasingly for the fewer privileged.