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Filner Has New Plans For Plaza de Panama

— Mayor Bob Filner said he’s nearly ready to announce a plan to get the cars out of Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama. He said he’d do that by changing traffic patterns and removing parking spaces.

Aired 2/28/13 on KPBS News.

From political realities to Plaza de Panama, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner covered a lot of ground in his official monthly meeting with the media.


Mayor Bob Filner the day after the November 2012 election.

"Because it's not a permanent thing like the bridge, we can have an experiment, does it work or doesn't it work?'' Filner told reporters. "If it doesn't work, we'll change it.''

The mayor said parking would be eliminated in the Plaza de Panama, including parking for the disabled and valet parking. He has asked the City Council for $500,000 to implement the plan, which would come from a budget surplus projected for the current fiscal year. City Council President Todd Gloria, who represents the park, said before Filner made his remarks that no one has briefed him on the plan and suggested that area residents would react negatively if left out of the loop.The mayor subsequently said the City Council and residents will have the opportunity to vet his proposal.

A previous plan to remove vehicles from the center of Balboa Park, which included construction of a $40-million bypass bridge to carry traffic around the Plaza de Panama and Plaza de California, was recently shot down in court.

The Plaza is just one of the contentious issues Filner has had to deal with during his two months in office. His aggressive actions at City Hall, which have included holding up important appointments and withholding marketing money from the hotel industry, haven’t won him any friends among many of San Diego’s power brokers. But Filner said that’s to be expected.

“I think the people of San Diego voted for change, I think they’re behind us. But I think some of the people, who, I’ll say, lose power … get nervous,” he said. “And they’re responding in a way that, when people get defensive, they do. They write editorials. They use words for you. They sue you.”

One thing Filner can’t control is possible across-the-board federal budget cuts, which could be triggered this Friday. Filner said several large San Diego companies have already informed him they’ll lay off workers if the cuts go through.

“It would be disastrous,” Filner said. “There’s official-notice requirements by larger business if they think there’s going to be layoffs due to national polices. And we’ve gotten some of those from (General Dynamics) NASSCO, for example and, I think (Navy ship contractor) BAE," Filner said. "So, we can see, it’s going to be terrible for San Diego.”

Filner said his 20 years in Congress led him to believe that some sort of agreement will be reached between congressional leaders and President Obama to avoid the cuts, even if it comes at the very last minute.

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Avatar for user 'gregoryagogo'

gregoryagogo | February 27, 2013 at 5:20 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Yes, unlike the Jacobs' posse which includes the San Diego City Council, Mayor Filner will listen to the community!

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Avatar for user 'bailarin'

bailarin | February 28, 2013 at 3:11 a.m. ― 4 years ago

I totally agree with the Mayor people voted for change. San Diego's city hall catered to special interest. Look at the millions of dollars the city lost on Liberty Station, the city pretty much gave it away. Balboa Park is fine the way it is so why fix a non-existent problem.

As for the budget sequester issue it is Washington's own doing. Nixon's opening up relations with China that culminated in the U.S. recognition of China as a Most Favored Nation (MFN), renewed on a yearly basis, which was made Permanent Normal Trade Relation (PNTR) nation in 2000 under Clinton. The trade gap with China ballooned in that time frame and can be attributed to the fiscal problem the U.S. is now experiencing at the Federal, State and local levels.

MFN and PNTR China reduced the import tax revenue. At the same time drastically reduced the individual and business tax base, and under funding of Social Security and Medicare due to severe loses in manufacturing and supply chain jobs to China.
MFN and PNTR China are the U.S. Congress approved scheme that transferred the wealth of the U.S. to the coffers of Corporate America and the pockets of the members of the U.S. Congress. At the expense of the American workers/middle-class and placed in jeopardy the status of the U.S. as an economic/manufacturing powerhouse and its military superiority. Economic and manufacturing superiority are the pre-requisites to military superiority. The decline in both economic and manufacturing superiority is now manifesting the dire consequences of MFN and PNTR negative effects on our military.

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Avatar for user 'td'

td | February 28, 2013 at 7:31 a.m. ― 4 years ago

Doesn't Mayor Filner's plan violate the same city municipal code that the Jacobs plan did?

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Avatar for user 'Syntropic'

Syntropic | February 28, 2013 at 8:29 a.m. ― 4 years ago

It is interesting that Todd Gloria brings up "Community Input" when he ignored the Community while continuing to push his Plaza de Panama Committee illegal agreements and Council approval.
Should Mr. Gloria be RECALLED by his constituents - that being the only recourse available to them through which to end his poor decisions?
Mayor Filner can implement changes, observe the results of those temporary changes, modify the changes, and move forward. People will moan and groan because they experience inconvenience, yet much as the closure of East El Prado showed positive outcomes, closure of Plaza de Panama to parking and valet will have positive outcomes.
Mayor Filner needs to ensure that disabled access is maintained and enhanced.

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Avatar for user 'sdkelly'

sdkelly | February 28, 2013 at 9:37 a.m. ― 4 years ago

I don't want to see vehicles removed from the Plaza, I like access the way it is. If changes must occur I would support only reducing _some_ parking in the plaza, perhaps by _expanding_ handicapped spaces, maintaining bus/delivery/service access and removing only valet & standard parking from the Plaza and expanding it into the proposed parking garage. I feel privileged to have been able to drive through the East El Prado since it's closed to normal access and i really don't want Plaza access to become only rare and historic privilege the same way. Just being able to give friends and family a 3-minute driving tour through the park and be able to drop people off in the center of the park is tremendously more valuable to me than trying to shuttle persons with restricted mobility no matter how good the shuttling service.

Removing vehicle access from the Plaza effectively removes many people with restricted mobility by making the barriers and efforts required to visit that much greater than their mobility issues already do.

Please preserve our access to the Plaza de Panama

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Avatar for user 'gregoryagogo'

gregoryagogo | February 28, 2013 at 12:48 p.m. ― 4 years ago

TD, Filner's plan does not include slapping on a freeway off ramp to the Cabrillo Bridge, digging a deep hole for a parking structure in the center of the park, turning Alcazar Garden into valet parking, and turning the plaza into business park, so NO, Filner's plan does not violate the same code.

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Avatar for user 'td'

td | February 28, 2013 at 2:37 p.m. ― 4 years ago

SOHO sued the city, claiming that the Jacobs plan violated municipal code 126.0504, which, as I understand its application to the plan, says that a parking lot is a "reasonable use" of the Plaza, and, as a result, the parking lot must remain. While Judge Timothy Taylor did not find fault with Jacobs' proposed bridge and underground parking garage, he agreed with SOHO regarding the "reasonable use" issue, killing the Jacobs plan.

I'd like to see cars removed from the Plaza, but I don't see how any plan gets around the city's municipal code. Can someone please explain how the Filner plan does not violate the city's municipal code?

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Avatar for user 'AccessSanDiego'

AccessSanDiego | February 28, 2013 at 8:16 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Filner's plan is a slap in the face to every San Diegan who has mobility problems, including the elderly and disabled. Why not leave a bank of Disabled Parking spaces, in fact the Park needs to increase those. What Filner proposes now is insensitive and probably illegal according to the ADA.

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Avatar for user 'starfish'

starfish | March 4, 2013 at 7:44 a.m. ― 4 years ago

TD the ruling is project and impact specific. It would not apply to a project with a negative declaration of impact. Of course if you think the ruling applies the way you think it does, it is your right to litigate your argument. Good luck with that.

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Avatar for user 'starfish'

starfish | March 4, 2013 at 7:49 a.m. ― 4 years ago

AccessSanDiego you haven't seen the details of the plan. It is a disservice to make such statements without the facts. The plan will actually increase and improve ADA access.

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Avatar for user 'Hardcover'

Hardcover | March 5, 2013 at 8:34 a.m. ― 4 years ago

AcessSanDiego: you are just replaying the spin of others. I encourage you to do some original research. Every time I go to the Old Globe, I see disabled folks being dropped off at the crosswalk in front of the theatre, or getting in or out of cabs there. Under the Jacobs plan, they would have to travel about 10 times as far, with changing topography, from the Alcazar lot. Have you ever thought about the situation if an elderly or disabled person's car gets stalled in "the ditch" after the bridge, where there are no sidewalks? You can't just come on here with a username like that making statements that are not fully researched, of course you are going to have heard more from the proponents than the opponents of this: they are the ones that can afford to hire professional PR people. Don't get suckered in please!

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Avatar for user 'jlacava'

jlacava | March 5, 2013 at 8:34 a.m. ― 4 years ago

TD, I can't believe that no one has responded to you directly. The issue is not just 126.0504 but 126.0504(i)(3) specifically. In analyzing the proposal it was determined that the proposed project requires a "Historical Resources Deviation for Substantial Alteration of a Designated Historical Resource or Within a Historical District." That being the case, there are 4 findings required to grant that deviation. The judge apparently could not make the finding of "no reasonable beneficial use of a property." Apparently, the judge found that a parking lot was a "reasonable beneficial use" and thus the deviation must be rejected. That does *not* mean that the plaza must be maintained as a parking lot or that the parking/traffic patterns can't be altered. It has been used as a parking lot, the parking/circulation has been revised, the plaza has on occasion been closed to cars. While car-oriented uses might offend aesthetics and usability, they apparently don't affect the "historic resource" and therefore the current use or any future variation is not in conflict with the municipal code.

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Avatar for user 'nikkineel'

nikkineel | March 12, 2013 at 6:05 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Todd wants community input????? HA!!!!! really? then why does he block people who vocalize concern about his plans for PDP????

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Avatar for user 'nikkineel'

nikkineel | March 12, 2013 at 6:06 p.m. ― 4 years ago

I SUPPORT Filners plan. The whole community does.

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Avatar for user 'nikkineel'

nikkineel | March 12, 2013 at 6:07 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Com'on D3 we have put up w/ enough abuse. Time to recall Todd Gloria!! he is working for developers and developers only, not the people.

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Avatar for user 'nikkineel'

nikkineel | March 12, 2013 at 6:10 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Notice how Todd Glorias bleeding heart only bleeds for issues and projects that make developers really really rich ie "affordable housing".

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