With just a few weeks until a seemingly sympathetic City Council decides whether to approve a major makeover of Balboa Park, the controversial proposal from a local billionaire is getting some competition.

Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs wants to clear the park’s Plaza de Panama of cars. But foes have launched a plan of their own, the brainchild of retired architect Bill Lewis. It aims to eliminate two of the most controversial parts of Jacobs’ plan — a pay-to-park garage and a bridge that bypasses the plaza on the park’s eastern edge, which is now filled with cars — in favor of peripheral roads and a no-fee parking structure.

“Lewis’ plan envisions ‘rim roads’ as the traffic access for the park,” our arts editor, Kelly Bennett, writes. “The north road would run along the north behind the Museum of Art and The Old Globe, stretching all the way from Sixth Avenue to Park Boulevard. The west road would run parallel to State Route 163 and under one of the arches of the Cabrillo Bridge.”

It may be too late for the alternative plan to gain any traction. Already, an aide in the mayor’s office has expressed major skepticism.

And it’s not clear whether the plan would need to go through a new round of review. The road under the bridge, for one, would raise questions about whether the structure’s historical flavor is being properly preserved.

The whole battle over the park’s makeover has been a bitter one. There’s been some communication between the factions. Lewis, Jacobs and a prominent foe of the Jacobs plan have met with a mediator. But they haven’t had much luck.

“The opponents and Lewis hope Jacobs will compromise and fund their alternative. He says he won’t,” Bennett reports.

The City Council votes July 9.

Quick News Hits

• U-T San Diego reveals where the two remaining mayoral candidates got the highest levels of support in the primary: for Councilman Carl DeMaio, it was in many GOP strongholds north of Interstate 8, especially in Rancho Bernardo and Scripps Ranch, while Rep. Bob Filner was popular south of the freeway, especially in southeastern San Diego, in and around North Park, around UC San Diego and in Ocean Beach.

And if you think Filner, who’s almost twice as old as DeMaio, has an advantage among older folks, think again: he did very poorly in precincts with a majority of 50-and-older voters.

• The rights of San Diego bicyclists have gotten plenty of attention in recent months, thanks to an advocacy group and declarations from at least one mayoral candidate. But what about their frequent inability to follow the rules (at least when I’m watching)?

Up the coast in San Francisco, the Los Angeles Times reports, concerns about lawless bicylists — including one accused of killing a man in a crosswalk — have ignited debate about what sorts of support cyclists truly deserve.

The city “offers a cautionary tale for cities where officials are mulling antidotes to sprawl and working toward less dependence on the private auto,” the paper says.

• Another transportation debate has sprung up in our comments, this one over whether San Diego’s roads are really that bad.

Nope, they aren’t, says reader Marc Caron. Yup, I replied, they’re a “mess,” at least in the mid-city neighborhoods where I tool around. “Buy a new Mercedes,” Caron snapped back, “and you will be fine. Thank you for your response… DeMaio puppet!”

If I had any sensibilities, they’d be offended. “Puppet” sounds gauche. I’d really prefer to be somebody’s marionette.  

• Also in comments, our story about the latest episode in the U-T saga — a negative story in the NY Times — spawned an intense back-and-forth about the paper’s new philosophy and the NYT’s standing to say anything at all about biased newspapering.

• Here at the Morning Report headquarters and general store, we’ve been scrupulously ignoring all those city rankings that seem to come out every day or so. You know, the one about the most moisturized cities or the cities that are least likely to watch the Super Bowl while wearing rayon.

But a new ranking has got our knee-length swim trunks in a bunch. The Mars candy company has declared that San Diego is the least “manly city” in the country, ranking below 49 (!) other American burgs. The rating is based on “sports, manly lifestyle, concentration of manly retail stores, manly magazine subscriptions, and sales of salty snacks,” an Ohio newspaper says.

San Diego’s ranking is an outrage! I’m offering to lead a campaign to convince the world that we’re quite masculine, thank you very much. But I’m not available until tomorrow. Tonight I have to wash my hair and shop for quiche.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.