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Gloria Hoping To Revive Plaza de Panama Plan

— San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor judge effectively killed plans to revamp Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park when he ruled the city violated the municipal code in approving the project.

The Plaza de Panama project in Balboa Park appears to be dead in the water, but one San Diego councilman is looking for ways to revive it.

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Memo on Plaza de Panama options

Memo on Plaza de Panama options

A memo from Council President Todd Gloria sent to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith asking for advice on how to revive the Plaza de Panama project.

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Now City Council President Todd Gloria is exploring ways the project might be brought back to life. He’s sent a memo to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith asking for advice on legal and legislative options San Diego might use to revive the project. Those could include granting a municipal code exemption to the plan.

The Plaza de Panma plan calls for building a bypass road off of Cabrillo Bridge to route cars around the plaza. The plan also includes building a parking structure behind the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Qualcomm Founder Irwin Jacobs, a KPBS supporter, was financing much of the plan, but he has since said he believes the project is dead.

In a lawsuit filed by the Save Our Heritage Organisation, who opposed Jacobs' plan, the judge ruled that the City Council violated the municipal code in finding there was no reasonable beneficial use of Plaza de Panama without the project. Such a finding is required to alter a facility that's designated a historic resource.

Gloria said the SOHO lawsuit creates a situation where the city won't be able to make any beneficial changes to Balboa Park until the laws are changed.

Boosters of the plan wanted to begin construction quickly so the Plaza de Panama and Plaza de California would be free of vehicles in time for the park's 100th anniversary in 2015, in which a full year's worth of events are being planned.

"I continue to support the Plaza de Panama project as approved by the City Council, and am firmly convinced, as Judge Taylor was, that its benefits far outweighs its impacts, even in regard to protecting the park's historic resources,'' Gloria said.

"I am also firmly convinced that the city needs to fix the problem with its municipal code, as identified by Judge Taylor, or it may never be able to remove traffic and parking from the plaza,'' he said.

Gloria said he looked forward to Goldsmith's recommendations so the City Council could determine the "appropriate course of action.''

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