Tinker: “We’re gonna give a whole new meaning to the word ‘Parking.’ Make it something active, instead of stationary. Make it - how shall I put it? - pedestrian. Yeah, that’s it. We’re gonna make Balboa Park pedestrian, a place for some serious parking!”
Last week, Balboa Park announced plans to remove nearly 150 parking places currently situated in the park’s South Palisades region, and to replace them with the promenade laid out in the park’s master plan of 1989. Critics have objected that the plan specifies the parking lot should be removed only after the as-yet-unbuilt organ pavilion parking structure is constructed, but city officials have been quick to dismiss such quibblings.
“For years,” says Art Tinker, Balboa Park’s director of parking abatement, “we’ve been trying to figure out why fewer and fewer people are visiting this part of the Park, home to the Hall of Champions Sports Museum, the Municipal Gym, the Air and Space Museum, and the Automotive Museum. I mean, everyone loves sports, everyone loves flying machines, and everyone loves cars, right? And most of all, everyone loves the recent past! Where else can San Diegans see classic cars? Where else can they admire great old planes and space-age technology? And now that we’ve replaced the sports joint with the Comic-Con Museum, well, where else can they get a serious taste of comic-book culture? I mean, besides various car shows, air shows, and superhero movies. And the internet. So yeah, it’s been a puzzler, but we think we’ve got it figured out. The trouble was that all those museums were placed smack-dab up against convenient parking. I mean, really. Whoever heard of putting a place for cars near an automotive museum? Talk about muddying the message. People like to come here and stroll. It takes them back to 1935, when there were fewer cars on the road, and fewer planes in the air, and no internet to speak of. Also when the space between the museums was a gorgeous greensward. Lush, green, lawns - that’s what San Diegans want to see, especially now that they can’t afford the water to have their own.”