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SD Councilman Vows Plaza de Panama Will Be Ready For 2015 Celebration

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Aired 6/10/11

Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama will be overhauled by the 2015 Centennial Celebration. A San Diego Councilman is making that vow even though elaborate plans for the plaza have stalled.

— The Plaza de Panama may not end up being totally traffic free as proposed in a $40 million plan from Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs. But Councilman Todd Gloria said an earlier, more modest vision calls for less radical changes, such as removing the parking spaces. He said that plan has already been publicly vetted and will cost far less money.

 Balboa Park on May 7th, 2009.
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Above: Balboa Park on May 7th, 2009.

Gloria still believes there may be a day when the plaza is completely car free.

There’s nothing that prevents us from closing the plaza today to traffic,” he said. “At least, perhaps, on special occasions, weekends, temporary basis, to get a feel for how that works and how do San Diegans respond to it and how can we make that work better.”

Gloria said there were a number of people who ultimately thought the Jacobs plan went too far. It included building a parking structure behind the organ pavilion and adding a bypass road onto the Cabrillo Bridge.

But Gloria believes everyone, not just billionaires, should chip in to help preserve the crumbling park. He said the December Nights event is an example of how popular the park is.

“Over 300,00 people come to the park, they love the park, they enjoy it for several days,” he said. “But none of them are asked to do anything for the park. And we have to change that around. “

Gloria said large projects like revamping the Plaza de Panama will take a lot of money. But he said citizens could contribute toward smaller jobs, like replacing a stained glass window. A non-profit group is currently being organized to manage the park in the future.

Comments

Avatar for user 'starfish'

starfish | June 10, 2011 at 8:42 a.m. ― 3 years, 3 months ago

I agree completely with Councilmember Gloria. Balboa Park doesn't need radical surgery and tons of new construction work. And his call for community wide involvement I wholeheartedly support. I know I'll do what I can.

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Avatar for user 'medo1942'

medo1942 | June 11, 2011 at 4:05 p.m. ― 3 years, 3 months ago

It's a great idea to have everyone contribute to supporting the park. If someone could set up an attractive website that will grab attention and make it clear that all contributions are ONLY going to supporting the park. I'm sure that people will be willing to contribute. State all the advantages of the park, such as free organ concerts, picnic areas, the play areas for children near Pepper Grove, puppet shows, free Tuesday museums, free tram rides, and many other items. Many people in the city are not aware of all the things there are to do, especially for families who are hurting financially. I don't think that Balboa Park is being advertised enough. We can start by removing all cars from the plaza in front of the art museum to begin making the park safer for pedestrians.

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