Balboa Park / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

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Gas-burning cars are the largest source of planet-warming emissions generated in San Diego and the culprit of more than two-thirds of the smog in the county.

And the debate over efforts to make it less convenient to drive and more convenient to bike or bus to Balboa Park, one of San Diego’s main attractions, showcases just how tedious it can be for the government to force that transition. 

The debate over parking in and around the city’s crown jewel isn’t new, but now, as KPBS’ Andrew Bowen reports, it’s a climate conundrum unfolding over a 1.4-mile stretch of Park Boulevard that runs along the eastern edge of Balboa Park. Park Boulevard already features bike lanes both north and south of Balboa Park, Bowen pointed out. But on the roughly 1.4-mile stretch that goes through the park itself, cyclists must share a lane with cars.

City staff are set to present and seek input on several options for increased non-car mobility at a Thursday Balboa Park Committee meeting.

Most options eliminate a lane for car traffic along the four-lane thoroughfare with curbside parking and designate one each way for buses and/or bikes. Eliminating parking on the boulevard would take away 4 percent of the over 7,000 available spaces in various lots dotted across Balboa.

The Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, a nonprofit that says it represents the various arts, science and cultural organizations in the park including the San Diego Zoo, voiced opposition. Its executive director, Peter Comiskey, told Bowen that eliminating parking wouldn’t do since, “some 90 percent of people coming to park … would be coming in vehicles,” like families who need to tow strollers or picnic baskets. 

Comiskey told Voice of San Diego multiple surveys conducted by his organization show by-vehicle is the most common form of transportation. He said eliminating parking along the boulevard would have a negative impact on venues like the WorldBeat Center and Centro Cultural de la Raza. 

“To remove parking in those venues would effectively create a little cultural island and people would have a great problem accessing them,” he said. 

Comiskey called for the city to do a mobility and parking management study, which he said parking studies his organization has already undertaken could inform.

The city has commissioned multiple parking plans, studies and inventories over the years. 

“It’s not a question of delaying, it’s a question of doing it properly,” Comiskey said. “We need to consider the whole of the mobility picture.” 

Hang With the VOSD Podcast Crew Next Week 

There’s no better feeling than getting to the end of a busy week, kicking your feet up and listening to the latest VOSD Podcast episode. (Ok, maybe a better feeling is the rush our readers get when they sign up to become Voice of San Diego members.)

But ever wonder how the magic happens in the Voice of San Diego studio? 

Next week you’ll get a chance to watch your favorite podcast crew in action during our live podcast recording on Thursday, June 9, at Novo Brazil Brewing. VOSD Podcast hosts Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña will host a show with special guests Steve Garcia (host of Emo Brown podcast and a local business owner) and Chula Vista City Councilwoman Andrea Cardenas. 

The crew will talk politics, key races and a range of news topics important to South County residents. The event is free for Voice members and available to non-members for just $15. Get your ticket here. 

In Other News 

  • The Union-Tribune revealed that skyrocketing drug overdose deaths and staffing issues at San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office have fueled a backlog of hundreds of cases.
  • Times of San Diego dug into the story behind the candidacy of registered Democrat Sidiqa Hooker, who is running to replace County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher in the District 4 seat, and found Hooker is a former registered Republican who wrote several articles for a news site funded by the county Republican Party.
  • 10 News reports that construction kicked off Tuesday on a new homeless shelter planned for the Midway District.
  • NBC 7 San Diego reports that masks are back on students, teachers and staff at South Bay Union School District amid an uptick in COVID cases.
  • Increasing mortgage rates haven’t slowed San Diego’s surging home prices, the Union-Tribune reports.
  • Yikes. A Hillcrest man told CBS 8 his dog tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine after a Sunday walk in the neighborhood and said his veterinarian reported treating multiple similar cases the past few days.

This Morning Report was written by MacKenzie Elmer, Lisa Halverstadt and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Who are the actual decision makers deciding whether to remove hundreds of parking spaces from park Blvd in Balboa park and remove a driving lane?
    Have stakeholders like the zoo been consulted?
    This is being pushed through without taxpayers getting a vote.
    Does the sd city council need to approve it?

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