David Dodd 4:24 p.m., May 22
SOHO Organizes Protest Against Plaza de Panama Plan
Members of Save Our Heritage Organisation and other supportive groups gathered this afternoon at the western edge of historic Cabrillo Bridge, protesting the plan pushed by Mayor Sanders and Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs. Their intent is to build a new bridge to bypass the Plaza de Panama, instead routing cars entering Balboa Park from the west to a new paid-access parking garage.
“It’s the most destructive project that’s been proposed for the park in 50 years,” said Bruce Coons, executive director of SOHO. “Eighty to 90 percent of San Diegans hate this plan,” he added, noting that several historical preservation groups in addition to SOHO had voted against its approval, frequently unanimously.
A crowd of about 50 waved signs and gathered cheers and honks from passers-by on foot and in cars. One woman voiced her approval of the plan, thinking that it was the only proposal currently on the table to end vehicle traffic in the Plaza (several alternatives were in fact presented to the Plaza de Panama Committee, the booster group pushing the current plan).
Three police officers assigned to the event hid in the shade of the archway leading into the Plaza. They held a brief talk at the onset of the demonstration warning organizers to keep demonstrators at the bridge’s edge where sidewalks were wider and there would be no interference with pedestrians. Officers then stood back and allowed the crowd to continue their picket without a need to intervene.
The City Council will meet tomorrow at 2 p.m. to consider a Memorandum of Understanding, an agreement that, while not binding, endorses the concept of the new bridge plan. Preservationists have urged the public to attend and comment against the project.