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Parking Spaces Removed From Balboa Park

Removal of more than 60 parking spaces from the Plaza de Panama in the heart of Balboa Park began today.

Joanne DiBona

The North Fountain in Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama.

City crews took out concrete parking curbs, signs and planter boxes as part of Mayor Bob Filner's plan to make the area more pedestrian friendly.

Handicapped and valet parking is being relocated and the city has purchased a tram to shuttle park visitors around. New landscaping and seating will go into the plaza.

Motorists will still be able to drive through the area, but the mayor hopes to close off traffic on weekends and holidays beginning in September.

Traffic will be shut down completely early next year when Caltrans begins a four-month enhancement project on the Cabrillo Bridge over state Route 163.

The mayor said city staff will continue to meet with community groups to see how the changes are working and implement refinements.

"This is a framework we're setting up that allows further enhancement and beautification,'' Filner told NBC7/39.

The $300,000 project now underway replaced a plan backed by Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs that would have resulted in construction of a new bridge to carry traffic away from the plaza.

A preservationist group that worried the bypass bridge would be unsightly and threaten the park's historic status sued and got a judge to reject the Jacobs plan. The court decision is being appealed.

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Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | June 10, 2013 at 10:04 p.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

San Diego finally has a Mayor who is willing to implement the existing Balboa Park Master Plan, which for more than 20 years has called for parking to be removed from the Plaza de Panama. Previous mayors stalled on taking that step because they were trying to stay on the good side of the park museums, the zoo and their wealthy patrons. Mayor Filner is more about creating a park that works for everybody, not just the wealthy few.

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Avatar for user 'Jazzding'

Jazzding | June 11, 2013 at 5:24 a.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

Good move, but it will further strain parking in the south-west sector of the park. From Laurel St. south to Marsten Point, Balboa Park has become the best free parking spot for people working across the 6th St. bridge downtown. Park visitors already have a hard time finding parking there. I really think a 3 hour limit in this area is in order.

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Avatar for user 'MaoTzu'

MaoTzu | June 11, 2013 at 5:45 a.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

I go to the park often usually by bicycle but when I have driven there I've never found a spot in that area, on the other hand I've never failed to find a spot behind the Organ Pavilion.

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | June 11, 2013 at 8:04 a.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

I am sure the long range plan will show a profit ( for the parking franchise company, not the tax payers)

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | June 11, 2013 at 10:11 a.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

Jazzding you should not be using that parking for work. Your employer should buy you a parking spot, that free parking is for people to enjoy the park.

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Avatar for user 'About_Disabled'

About_Disabled | July 5, 2013 at 3:50 a.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

Why is it that are not handicap can decide to remove all the handicap parking close to the buildings and Prado that was convenient for disabled parking. Have you ever been there with a person in a wheelchair, walker or using a cane and had to park a half mile away and walk up a steep hills when movement is only 1 mile per hour?. Forced to stand and wait in a dislocated parking lot for a tram bus that will also most likely be difficult for disabled to climb into (they don't go up steps well). Why don't they get a group of a dozen or so disabled people and let them decide if it is a good idea to get rid of disabled parking spots. The idea of any underground parking garage stinks like the exhaust that it would produce and force people to breath as they wait in line to get out. Keep the parking lots free so everyone can afford to go to the park not just the rich who can afford 5, 10 or 15 dollars for a parking garage or other parking fees. You know if there was a parking garage they would have to charge everywhere to force people to use it. The park already lacks adequate security at night a parking garage would create a whole host of new problems and smells. San Diego is slacking when it comes to providing enough parking for handicap as you can easily see if you visit the social security office in Down Town San Diego, and don't park in the 3/4 faded out unmarked (no sign) loading zone for 5 minutes or you will get a 200 dollar ticket as I did. There is only 1 handicap spot on the opposite side of the block and of course it is already taken, I wonder how much money has been bilked from the disabled in this way.

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