Mayor Faulconer announced on Thursday the revival of a plan to remove cars from the Central Mesa of Balboa Park, with many of the plan’s former supporters getting the band back together for a second try. The plan still redirects traffic from the Cabrillo Bridge onto a bypass bridge and directly into a parking garage. There’s lots of reports about it out there today but, as is our style, Lisa Halverstadt helps you make sense of it and identifies the big questions still to be answered.
The legal issues with the plan have been settled for some time but the project sat in limbo. Nobody would tell us it would re-emerge.
Halverstadt noted that two key people were not at the mayor’s side: Councilman Todd Gloria, an early prominent backer of the original plan, and his elected successor, Chris Ward. Ward previously was opposed to bringing back the project. He was named, however, as having been at the mayor’s side in the mayor’s press release but a doctor’s appointment actually kept him away from the media frenzy.
When asked if he supported it, Ward issued a tepid statement that he was analyzing it.
Philanthropist Irwin Jacobs told Halverstadt the group will need to raise $20 million to make the project happen. (Jacobs is a major supporter of Voice of San Diego.)
• Faulconer also announced that he will ask voters in November to modify an previous ballot measure that ensured much of the revenue generated from leases in Mission Bay Park stayed there. This time, he said, he wants some of the money to flow to Balboa Park and its many maintenance needs. None of that money, he pledged, would be used for the Plaza de Panama project.
About That November Ballot
That plan the mayor talked about is yet another ballot measure. You may want to start studying now. San Diegans may have upward of 50 non-candidate decisions to make on their ballot, Scott Lewis notes. “Guns, porn, tobacco, death penalty and marijuana all probably on the ballot,” he tweeted. Contradictory plastic bag bans. Billions for schools. Tax increases, too. The list goes on and on, “all hot-button issues, and ones that will generate big time advertising expenditures,” the LA Times writes. At least one initiative that may yet qualify seeks to “reclassify some property crimes as a felony, which supporters say would fix a 2014 initiative passed by voters.”
• Among the local measures that may be in store for voters is for San Diego to require its elected city attorney to be, in fact, an experienced attorney. Currently no such requirement exists. (Union-Tribune)
• Donald Trump may be somewhere on that November ballot, too. Former mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican who now runs the Chamber of Commerce here, warned that Trump’s policies will hurt San Diego’s economy. (KPBS)
Climate Plan vs. North Park
The community of North Park is shaping up to be a proving grounds for San Diego’s new Climate Action Plan, KPBS reports. It’s in that neighborhood where new concepts of density, such as reducing car use, promoting transit and increasing bicycle ridership, will have to be successful if they are to have any hope of spreading. One big problem is how local governments calculate whether a community’s plan for growth will impact the climate. The old way: dense neighborhoods contribute negatively to the climate — avoid them. New thinking: density gets people out of cars and helps mitigate climate impacts.
We recently covered how North Park’s approach to building more dense housing will also be key to achieving the Climate Action Plan’s goals.
SANDAG Eyes New Digs
SANDAG is moving forward with its plan to develop a 10-story, $112 million building downtown that would also double as a place for buses to hang out in between service runs, which is an issue right now, according to the Union Tribune. The buses currently have to park curbside and their drivers have to use portable toilets. “The Downtown Facility would provide better accommodations for the bus drivers, free up more than 40 parking spaces, and improve the downtown streetscape,” SANDAG writes.
We noted last year how San Diego politicians in Sacramento had used a controversial maneuver to clear the way for this project.
• Among the 30 largest cities in the United States, San Diego ranks 13th for cost to deliver a baby naturally and 5th most expensive city to deliver via c-section. (KPBS)
• But we are #1 when it comes to places people want to go for their Fourth of July weekend. (10News)
• Related: here’s a handy map of public parks where you’re still allowed to enjoy alcoholic beverages.
• Free parking at Horton Plaza just went from three hours down to one hour. (Union Tribune)
• Cuts were announced for San Diego-based company Arena Pharmaceuticals, with around 100 employees facing layoffs.
• California legislators sent a big ol’ package of gun laws to Governor Brown on Thursday. Brown isn’t sharing much about his intentions on whether to sign them. (Sacramento Bee)
• The tallest LEGO structure in the United states is a mere 26 feet tall, but it is now on display at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad. The tallest LEGO tower in the world looms large at 115 feet tall, located in Milan, Italy. (NBC 7)
• Our Angelino neighbors to the north came up with the great idea to attach a see-through slide 1,000 feet up on a high rise building. San Diegans have no choice but to respond by installing a zip line between two rooftops on Emerald Plaza.