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City Council Gives Jacobs’ Balboa Park Plan The Cold Shoulder

And other stories in the news

SD Council Committee Won’t Endorse Park Plan

The San Diego City Council looked a gift horse in the mouth when it refused to support a Balboa Park renovation plan that’s backed by wealthy philanthropist Irwin Jacobs. Jacobs has promised to raise $25 million to refurbish the park to make the Plaza de Panama, outside the San Diego Museum of Art, a pedestrian-only zone.

The Laurel Street bridge is the western entrance to San Diego's Balboa Park.
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Above: The Laurel Street bridge is the western entrance to San Diego's Balboa Park.

The Union Tribune now reports Jacobs said he will suspend his work on the project. What exactly that means for the future of the project is unclear.

The plan put forward by Jacobs and Mayor Jerry Sanders has rubbed historic preservationists the wrong way. It involves building a parking garage behind the Organ Pavilion and constructing a bypass bridge that connects to the Cabrillo Bridge and diverts traffic away from the plaza and toward the parking garage.

It’s the bypass bridge that’s really got people riled up. Look here to see at some pictures of what’s proposed.

The vote of nonsupport from the Rules Committee sends the issue to the full City Council, which could reverse course. If the Jacobs plan goes ahead you can bet San Diego’s Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) will be ready with a court challenge.

Inland California Is Underwater

Being far from the coastline doesn’t prevent you from being submerged when the tsunami is a wave of foreclosures.

A new report by CoreLogic, Inc. shows many of California’s Central Valley communities are near the top, in their percentage of homeowners who have “negative equity” in their homes. That means a homeowner owes more money on a house than the house is worth.

Holding negative equity, a.k.a. being underwater, has been a widespread consequence of America’s housing meltdown. Cities in the Central Valley that have it bad include Stockton, where 55.6 percent of homeowners are underwater. Not far behind are Modesto (54.6 percent), Bakersfield (49.3 percent) and Fresno (45.6 percent).

Comparatively, an estimated 26 percent of homeowners in San Diego are underwater. CoreLogic says the national average is 23 percent.

Can You Just Walk Away?

There are no good solutions to being underwater on your mortgage. But one solution that lots of people are considering is walking away. CNN reports that business is up for attorneys who advise clients who choose to abandon their mortgages.

Home finance giant Fannie Mae found in a recent survey that only about 27% of such homeowners would consider walking away. But that’s up from 15% last year.

The Head of GM Wants A Higher Gas Tax

What’s good for General Motors is good for the country. And the CEO of General Motors said he thinks we’d all benefit from higher gas taxes. General Motors CEO Dan Akerson told The Detroit News that a higher gas tax would help solidify the market for more fuel-efficient cars.

Akerson suggested immediately adding 50 cents to $1 to the price of gas, through taxation. He admitted that might not be politically realistic.

More than one automaker has said that the constantly changing price of gas has made it impossible to do long-range planning. Just as carmakers gear up to focus on making small cars, the price of gas drops and big cars become attractive to consumers again.

So far the CEO’s of both GM and Ford have said the government should use the gas tax to bring more stability to the price of gas and to the car market.

Dig These Cool Parking Garages!

If you think parking garages are great hulking eyesores, you’re right. But some architects have wondered if they have to be. Talk a look at these photos to see what parking garages look like in some other places. You may be surprised.

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