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Plaza de Panama Supporters Say Opponents Using Scare Tactics

Aired 5/15/12 on KPBS News.

Backers of the proposed Plaza de Panama project in Balboa Park say their opponents are trying to scare them into dropping the plan.

— Earlier this month the City of San Diego received a letter from a National Park Service representative warning the proposed Plaza de Panama project is not consistent with the standards of treatment for historic properties.

Document

Response to National Park Service Letter

Response to National Park Service Letter

A letter from Plaza de Panama project preservation ...

But project preservation consultant David Marshall said the Park Service has no jurisdiction over the plan because it does not involve federal money. And he said the idea of the park losing its historic designation is a far-fetched possibility being promoted by project opponents.

"The threat that Balboa Park will lose its National Register District status is nothing more than a scare tactic," Marshall said. "Because everybody we’ve talked to, including at the National Park Service, has said that’s not a realistic scenario."

Responding to the National Park Service letter, Marshall said that given the numerous historic buildings and gardens in the park, it would be difficult to show that removing 67 feet of railing from the Cabrillo Bridge and making the plan’s other proposed changes would threaten the park’s historic character. He said the letter raises some important concerns but that they have been largely addressed.

The National Park Service began looking into the project at the request of California’s State Historic Preservation Officer.

That official also said major changes to the park will cause it to lose its Historic Landmark Designation and possibly future funding opportunities.

Qualcomm founder and billionaire philanthropist Irwin Jacobs originally proposed plans to make over Balboa Park for its 2015 centennial celebration. Jacobs is a major contributor to KPBS. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders also backs the plan.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Hardcover'

Hardcover | May 16, 2012 at 11:23 a.m. ― 2 years, 7 months ago

Has there ever been a more one-sided article on KPBS? I really expected more from you on this one
I would call the fast-motion videos of cars and pedestrians that the Jacobs team has been circulating "scare tactics". They want you to believe that it is only a matter of time before you get hit by a car in the Plaza, despite no documentation that this has ever happened in the last 97 years. How about spending some
money to fix a real problem, like the NW corner of 54th and University, where there are a few pedestrian injuries every year?
The fast-motion video I really want to see, but alas never will, is the parade of lobbyists running in and out of the City Council offices.

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | May 16, 2012 at 12:09 p.m. ― 2 years, 7 months ago

It is a shame that instead of bringing all San Diegans together for Balboa Park's Centenial celebration in 2015, the Jacobs/Sanders civic Leadership team want to pick a fight with citizens, taxpayers, and historic preservationists.

Let's put the issue to a vote and see if Taxpayers want to pay for the new parking structure in Balboa Park when our potholed roads are crumbling.

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Avatar for user 'Really123'

Really123 | May 16, 2012 at 1:10 p.m. ― 2 years, 7 months ago

In this particular article, the point that supporters of the project make is that scare tactics are being used by opponents.

"The threat that Balboa Park will lose its National Register District status is nothing more than a scare tactic," Marshall said. "Because everybody we’ve talked to, including at the National Park Service, has said that’s not a realistic scenario."

In my personal experience in working with government agencies to negotiate contracts, or to satisfy grant requirements, I have learned to not believe any statements made verbally by anyone at all, no matter who they are. The only item that has been put in writing is the threat of losing historical status, no written retraction was made. Verbal assurances with a wink wink that Balboa Park will not lose it's historical status are worth what they're written on... nothing. My opinion is that people should not believe Marshall's assessment.

Proponents would be better off trying to convince San Diegans why losing the historical status will not hurt the park, and San Diego.

What does this status do for the park anyway? Do we need it? I heard on the news that it allows us to compete for federal funds to maintain and restore the park. Does anyone know if this is true?

On a side note, I think the plan is ugly and don't want it for aesthetic reasons. It seems like a complicated solution to a simple problem.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | May 16, 2012 at 4:07 p.m. ― 2 years, 7 months ago

Again, a bunch of wealthy people with good intentions are trying to make this more complicated than it needs to be.

How about the city takes $200 out of their petty cash drawer, buys some cones, and puts them up to block cars from entering.

The walk up the Prado to the park is glorious with panoramic views of the city, and looking at our population lately we could all use a little exercise.

Provide a shuttle for the handicapped and elderly and that's it.

Why do we need roads, parking structures, and cars inside the park?

I just don't get it.

Have Americans finally reached the point where we can't even stand to walk in a **PARK!?!?!**

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