Billionaire Jacob’s Plan for Balboa Park Back On the Shelf

by on February 13, 2019 · 1 comment

in History, San Diego

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and a group of major philanthropists are shelving a plan to remodel Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama after bids for the project came in way over budget last month.

Lisa Halverstadt / Voice of San Diego / February 12, 2019

A controversial plan to clear cars from Balboa Park’s central mesa is on hold.

Philanthropist Irwin Jacobs, who has long championed the Plaza de Panama project, said this week that philanthropists have halted fundraising efforts necessary to get the project to the finish line after three construction bids each came in at least $20 million higher than earlier estimates for the project.

“There is an excellent plan for how to proceed, but the costs are a little too high at this point,” Jacobs said.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and philanthropists had once hoped the Plaza de Panama project might break ground as soon as this spring.

Now those plans, which had been contingent on philanthropists raising $30 million, have been dashed.

For the balance of Lisa Halverstadt’s article, go here.

Another rendering of the proposed bypass bridge.

So, what are the general parts of the Billionaire’s plan?

  • to divert traffic from the Cabrillo Bridge on a bypass bridge;
  • displace cars from two plazas in the center of the park.
  • an 800-space underground garage, topped by landscaping.
  • replace the asphalt lot behind the Organ Pavilion with a grass-covered paid parking garage

So, what’s wrong with Jacob plan?

Opponents have come up with these key design flaws in the plan:

  • The bypass bridge off the historic Cabrillo Bridge and parking structure amount to “overkill,” wrote former city architect Michael Stepner in an e-mail urging the commission to reject the Jacobs plan.
  • The three-level garage would require the most expensive approach to construction, costing a whopping $40,000 to $90,000 per space, while gaining only 261 new parking spaces with 100 of those reserved for valet parking.
  • Paying for the garage would necessitate introducing paid parking to the park after more than a century of free parking.
  • The bypass bridge and forced right hand turn required to reach the garage would put pedestrians and drivers in perpetual conflict, wrote landscape architect Michael Singleton, who, as a member of the Balboa Park Committee, voted against the Jacobs plan and expressed serious concerns that the vote was being taken at all since over 100 written questions from the committee member to the DEIR had gone unanswered by the Plaza de Panama team.
  • As with its historic structures, the park’s topography, landscapes and views would be forever changed and would be irreversible.

Editordude: The OB Rag has been following the on-and-off efforts by billionaire Jacobs to remake the historic Balboa Park. See these:

Irwin Jacobs’ Balboa Park Plan Dealt Legal Setback – Jan. 2012

The People’s Pushback Against the Billionaire’s Plan for Balboa Park GrowsMay 2012

San Diego City Council Approves Jacob’s Plan  … July 2012

Judge Rules Against Jacob’s Plan – Feb. 2013

San Diego Billionaire’s Plan for Balboa Park Back in Court – Aug. 2018

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

ZZ February 13, 2019 at 1:06 pm

Hope to see them at least do the parking undergrounding. The giant parking lots everywhere are really ugly.


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