Mayor Bob Filner, with his veto of the City Council’s appointments to the port commission validated, has confirmed power in his portfolio his predecessor hadn’t tested.

And now, the veto looms large over another potentially historic decision.

Council President Todd Gloria let it be known Monday that he’s not giving up on the plan to overhaul the Central Mesa of Balboa Park. He wants the city attorney and council to change the law — or “technicality,” as he called it — that a judge said barred the city from issuing a development permit to revise Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama and build a new bridge to a paid-parking garage.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith has hinted that the city need only change the law that got in its way so that it doesn’t cover this project. (Why it didn’t already do this is probably an interesting story.)

But to do this, the council will need the mayor’s support. Or it will need six votes to override his veto.

In his memo, Gloria contends that this now paralyzed project is actually the existing Master Plan for the park and all other alternatives would have to go through the same long-term meetings and environmental reviews.

I continue to support the Plaza de Panama Project as approved by the City Council, and am firmly convinced, as Judge Taylor was, that its benefits far outweighs its impacts, even with regard to protecting the park’s historical resources. I am also firmly convinced that the City needs to fix the problem with its Municipal Code, as identified by Judge Taylor, or it may never be able to remove parking and traffic from the Plaza.

A change of the city’s law so that it doesn’t cover this project could take three months. It would set aside the municipal code that requires the city prove existing use of a historical piece of property is not reasonably beneficial before changing it.

But the mayor is no fan of the proposal for Balboa Park, having harangued it and its sponsor, philanthropist Irwin Jacobs, at the council meeting where it was approved.

Without the mayor’s support, six votes might be hard to come by. The council mustered six votes before, but that was with the crucial support of then-Council President Tony Young, who has resigned. Councilwoman Sherri Lightner voted against it already. It’s unclear how her colleagues David Alvarez and Marti Emerald would vote in the face of a mayoral veto, but they both supported the plan before.

Young’s replacement may not be in office until summer, when starting a project like this might be too late for the 2015 celebration it was meant to support.

So this $45 million project, in large part, rests on the mayor’s shoulders. It’s pretty clear he could save it right now or kill it off for good. The council president has not proven too adept at staring him down on small matters, let alone permanent transformations of the city’s crown jewel.

How about the mayor spare us the drama and let us know whether he’d veto a waiver of the law?

Clarification: I should note that former Council President Young was not present for the final 6-1 vote on the Balboa Park plan. His support was still crucial as he set the City Council’s agenda but not needed in the final vote.

Clarification II: The change would not be to “waive” the law that tripped up a plan to overhaul Balboa Park. The actual effort would be to create a “project specific exemption” within the law. In other words, they wouldn’t ignore the law but change it just for this project. The Municipal Code would be permanently changed. The text has been updated to reflect that wording.

I’m Scott Lewis, the CEO of Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you’d like at or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!):

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Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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