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Mayor Jerry Sanders has thrown his support behind the proposal to redevelop Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama into a car-free zone. In an open letter issued last week, he lamented the current condition of the park, writing that “Every year, Balboa Park’s backlog of deferred maintenance grows longer. Plans for needed improvements gather dust for lack of funding.”

The plan to re-route cars away from the plaza, says Sanders, “is the most exciting thing to happen in Balboa Park in my lifetime. It will transform the Balboa Park visitor experience.”

Backed by Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, the major component of the proposal is to create a bypass bridge to loop around the plaza, stopping traffic on El Prado as it crosses over SR 163 and diverting it to the right toward a paid parking garage near the organ pavilion. The garage will feature “a green rooftop park of lawns and gardens,” and will be financed through a bond to be repaid with the parking fees generated.

Jacobs and others on the Plaza de Panama Committee have committed to raising $25 million, which will largely fund the remainder of the project. The group is in a hurry to begin development, as it’s hoped the project will be complete by 2015 for a yearlong centennial celebration of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

On July 17, the committee goes to the city council to discuss a memorandum of understanding. While not an explicit project approval, if issued the memorandum would express the council’s support for the project.


Rendering of the proposed bridge

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Twister July 5, 2011 @ 6:43 p.m.

Those guys are (or should be) on another planet. Balboa Park was designed (badly) in the early 20th century, and the Cabrillo Bridge possibly should be closed, but not as a piecemeal, disintegrated flurry of pat "solutions." Those guys are not professional architects, but pols who pass out contracts for designs that never get built.

What Balboa Park needs is an internal transportation system, which could include permit and fee parking, which could be installed at any time for a TINY fraction of the money and be a true "revenue-generator" to finance other park facilities and maintenance. The Arizona Landfill site (a festering future scandal from our past) could serve as an overflow parking area (IF properly engineered). This would be a band-aid too, but one that would be far, far cheaper and would not be the serious gamble that this boondoggle is.


historymatters July 5, 2011 @ 9:40 p.m.

the mayor is just framing it this way but when has he EVER been honest or EVER cared about the aesthetics of SD. This is about him getting access to money. They are going to write HUGE bonds to pay for the parking structure and the access destroying the Cabrillo bridge. Then suddenly Jacobs will drop out and the part of the plan that takes the cars out of the park will be taken out. This is about a giant parking structure for ACE parking and a giant line of credit so the mayor can keep hiding all the fraud and abuse of SD $.

Come on people wake up!! Can you really trust Jerry Sanders?


historymatters July 5, 2011 @ 9:43 p.m.

This is also step one of making all parking at Balboa "paid parking". This is typical sanders. Create some fantasy that everyone will support, then once you get the OK and the access to the money you scr#w over your constituents by changing it...taking out all the good stuff and leaving in the bad. Look at McMiilin and NTC and how that went?


Burwell July 5, 2011 @ 10:38 p.m.

It makes far more sense to locate the parking structure on the far side of Florida Canyon, across Florida Drive near the bicycle velodrome, far away from historic and sensitive parkland of Balboa Park. Then, the lot could serve both Balboa Park and the Zoo as well. The City could build a rustic footbridge out of telephone poles to cross Florida canyon to connect the new parking lot with Balboa Park. We should not destroy Cabrillo Bridge or rape parkland solely to enable the wealthy to have a new parking structure so that they can more easily attend functions at the Old Globe Theatre and the art museums. I don't want any change or alternation of Balboa Park in any form. Balboa park should not be destroyed merely because some elderly eccentric with money wants a parking structure for his limo.


Twister July 5, 2011 @ 10:43 p.m.

Right on, histms, but the right kind of parking and internal transportation scheme would be a progressive tax (families in one car or public transportation to minimize impact and no charge for walk-ins or bicycles), but the wrong kind very well could backfire (like loading up nearby streets, etc. if the price was too high), but truly innovative features like annual permits free to those under the poverty line, etc. could blunt the adverse effects.

Big, centrally located parks, especially with a lot of parking, tend to be playgrounds for the relatively rich (The Timken Museum* being a model exception), while widely-dispersed, smaller parks tend to serve the poor better. Did you ever tally up what a visit to all of Balboa Park's "attractions" would cost for a poor family?

There's more; this is only a trial balloon.


*Admission is Free

Museum Hours Tuesday - Saturday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Mondays and major holidays


Twister July 5, 2011 @ 10:51 p.m.

Bur, that's where the Arizona Canyon Landfill is. But please, don't screw up the natural beauty and the little truly natural land (Florida Canyon) left with a "footbridge" that would look like a huge railroad trestle.

Making Cabrillo Bridge for peds only may have to come, but no, it shouldn't be "destroyed." It should, however, have periodic inspections and repair if it is to be preserved. It's almost a hundred years old, and auto/truck traffic is not going to extend its useful life.


dylan_shaw July 6, 2011 @ 12:03 a.m.

What this is really about is Sanders doing more favors for the paid parking brokers in $an Diego. This project is also sets the stage for cooperate privatization of Balboa Park. If you care about Balboa Park as a park for the people and free parking, say NO to $anders and his lousy paid parking scheme.


historymatters July 6, 2011 @ 12:52 a.m.

you are 100% right DS. The bottom line is Sanders is a LIAR. He lies and lies and lies. Look at how he handled the midnight stadium deal in Sacramento.

I have never seen a mayor have more contempt for his own citizens than Jerry Sanders. This is why he never even respects us enough to meet to discuss these things. He does everything behind closed doors w/ no input from the citizens. His attitude is "this is my city and I do whatever I want and if you dont like it tough $h!t",

This is no doubt a slimey deal for ACE parking and step 1 in the move to get citizens to pay for something that we should not have to pay for.


InOmbra July 6, 2011 @ 8:21 a.m.

Sanders blatantly ran for mayor as a George Bush clone, saying, just like Bush, "I'll run San Diego like a business." The VoSD and U-T and the ruling developers and investors loved it and ate it up. Sanders was falsely presented as a CEO, CFO, etc., based on a phony position given him by his banker buddy, Tom C. Stickel, founder of Coronado First Bank and Virtual Capital of California, LLC. Stickel and friends installed Sanders in Virtual Capital as an officer. How perfect is the name "Virtual"? Virtual indeed, the company never really existed or made any money. Sanders is a fraud and has screwed everyone who ever needed an honest, nonvirtual leader.


SurfPuppy619 July 6, 2011 @ 8:16 p.m.

Sanders was falsely presented as a CEO, CFO, etc., based on a phony position given him by his banker buddy, Tom C. Stickel,

Wow, have not heard about Stickel for some time now-is he still in town?????

As for Sanders-you nailed it-he is NO busienssman. He was appointed to his job at the United Way and the same with police chief. He never built ANYTHING on his own. And he has never had to deal with profit and loss, no gov leader does, they just stick the taxpayers with the bill if they go over budget.


SurfPuppy619 July 6, 2011 @ 8:11 p.m.

If you care about Balboa Park as a park for the people and free parking, say NO to $anders and his lousy paid parking scheme.

I agree 100%.

It is also a carbon copy scam of paying for parking at the beach areas. You get stuck with huge parking fees to enjoy a natural resource you should be able to enjoy for FREE, while the city employees would just put those proposed parking fees into their back pockets in the form of bigger and better pay and benefit packages.

You will never see more, or better, muni services for these proposed new costs, just bigger comp packages for the muni employees.

We will see parking fees at the beaches, Balboa Park and many other beatiful areas, brought up over and over and over again, I am sure. Don't fall for it.

I am very proud to be a part of a City like San Diego where the chances of parking fees at Balboa Park or the beach areas will get shot down from the get go.

Cannot say that about a number of places in CA.


SurfPuppy619 July 6, 2011 @ 8:19 p.m.

If you care about Balboa Park as a park for the people and free parking, say NO to $anders and his lousy paid parking scheme.

It will never fly in San Diego. It is DOA, just like KFC Sanders sales tax was DOA (after he promised to NOT raise taxes).

Bring it on KFC, we will smack you and your paid parking scma back to the stone ages.


Ponzi July 6, 2011 @ 2:58 a.m.

How about an “obese-free” or “liar-free” zone? Then Sanders can't set a foot in Balboa Park.


SurfPuppy619 July 6, 2011 @ 8:05 p.m.

How about an “obese-free” or “liar-free” zone? Then Sanders can't set a foot in Balboa Park.

======================= LOL.....KFC Sanders will never recover.

I could deal with his obesity-that is more genetic than anything else, but the constant lies are the deal killer with Sanders.

Remember Sander's Mayor campaign, how he was going to fix the pension problems with no new taxes????? That was the whopper of the century for a San Diego mayor campaign!


I Am Stardirt July 6, 2011 @ 3:22 a.m.

Bend over San Diego, Mayor Sanders just gave you another lube job.


MURPHYJUNK July 6, 2011 @ 7:38 a.m.

if sanders has his greasy fingers in the works, it has to be tainted


historymatters July 6, 2011 @ 5:25 p.m.

This is classic bait and switch by Sanders and Jacobs and if you before you get excited about Jacobs the philanthropist just look at his other philanthropic actions.

The community he helped is deeply resentful of how he destroyed their community and their businesses by bringing in giant big box retailers in the Village at Market Creek development and it drove all the local business out. Suddenly philanthropist Jacobs was in the affordable housing business.

And suddenly this philanthropist was much more concerned about his investors than the helping the neighborhood. here is a great article explaining what happened... http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/neighborhoods/article_7b435f4c-8b0b-11df-8dfc-001cc4c002e0.html

"From his seat at the Starbucks last week, Charles Johnson looked out the window and across the parking lot to his now-shuttered restaurant on the other side.

"It was my wife's dream, not mine," he said. "She has cooking in her blood."

They opened Magnolias Authentic Southern Dining in 2004 with high hopes of bringing the Creole okra gumbos and crawfish ettouffees of their native Louisiana to southeastern San Diego. They closed the restaurant June 26, $745,000 in debt on a startup loan and years' worth of back rent, Johnson said.

Magnolias is the latest in a string of closures of resident-owned small businesses at Market Creek Plaza, a retail center developed in southeastern San Diego's Diamond neighborhoods with a goal of providing business opportunities to local entrepreneurs."



Twister July 6, 2011 @ 10:55 p.m.

Y'all are right that the public should never fall for any promotion that is not in writing. And experience tells us (but many others don't get it) that the pols bait and switch us all the time.

But the writing is on the wall for fee parking. As the population (resident and visitor) rises against a fixed capacity, something's going to happen. We're not gonna get more beaches or more Balboa Park unless we pave over more land. Which would you rather have, more pavement or parking garages convenient to all attractions or an internal transport system and a pay-parking system that in effect opens up more of the existing space?

What are the numbers and what do they mean?

If the park is for the people, let's rip up some of the parking instead of paving more. How about off-park parking?


historymatters July 7, 2011 @ 1:42 a.m.

parking at Balboa park is rarely a problem, It should be left alone. If more people start using it then so be it. It will encourage people to get on their bikes and walk to the park. we do not need to accomodate every single vehicle in this city. And I dont think this is a case of "charge for parking" or pave over more land. Leave it free and as is. No more land. They are only taking a handful of spaces out by removing them from the center. That is not going to make a difference in the big picture.

But that isnt what this about anyway. Its about Sanders getting access to $ through these big bonds which he probably leverages thru some shady bank tricks like GS did w/ Greece and its about him stealing more revenue from the people by charging for parking. He is still cooking up schemes to make up for the 1/2 cent sales tax increase we shot down.


Twister July 7, 2011 @ 3:43 p.m.

Ok, if we've got plenty of parking spaces, we could use the surplus to make more handicapped spaces. Almost every evening, it's next to impossible to find a spot anywhere near where you're going.

I agree about the pols, but will need real numbers on the parking . . .


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