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Council President Gloria Shows Support For Filner’s Plaza De Panama Plan

City Council President Todd Gloria today expressed tentative support for a Balboa Park traffic management plan proposed recently by Mayor Bob Filner.

City Council President Todd Gloria gave tentative support on Friday to Mayor Bob Filner's Balboa Park traffic management plan. But Gloria said the City Council will seize an opportunity during a Monday budget meeting to give the plan more serious study.

That review during the Parks and Recreation budget hearing at 2 p.m. Monday might be the City Council’s only opportunity to have any input on the plan, he said.

Joanne DiBona

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

“We can choose to include funding for the Mayor’s Plaza de Panama plan or we can choose not to," Gloria said. "Knowing that there’s not at this time a review of an environmental document, permit, things of that nature, then we have to take that into consideration and take that very seriously because this may be our only opportunity to weigh in.”

Filner's initial budget proposal includes $300,000 for a "temporary" Balboa Park Traffic Management plan, a somewhat vague list of improvements that the plan "may include," such as removing parking signs from Plaza de Panama, moving parking spaces to the Alcazar Parking Lot and "modify(ing) traffic flow on park roads as needed."

Balboa Park Organization

The "Weekend Circulation" plan from Mayor Bob Filner for Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama. More details on his plan are available here.

Filner presented a firmer plan last week that would close off vehicle traffic through the Plaza de Panama on weekends, remove all parking, striping and signs from the plaza and relocate handicapped and valet parking. The plaza would also be resurfaced.

Gloria said he and others still have many concerns about the plan, including worries that it could reduce the number of people who visit the park and its museums and increase traffic in surrounding neighborhoods.

“There’s a number of things that need to be spelled out more clearly, which I believe the mayor is attempting to do," Gloria said. "He really needs to do that. I think it’s important for everyone to understand what we’re looking to accomplish there.”

But, he said, the mayor’s plan is a good temporary solution that can be finished in time for the park’s 2015 centennial celebration.

Filner made his proposal after a much larger project favored by Gloria and ex-Mayor Jerry Sanders and backed financially by Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs was nixed by a judge. Preservationists, who sued to stop that plan, said a proposed bypass bridge to divert traffic would threaten the park's historic status.

At Gloria's request, the City Attorney issued a memo saying that plan could be revived.

Gloria said Filner's temporary solution doesn't conflict with a larger plan for a bypass bridge.

The Save Our Heritage Organisation, which filed the lawsuit, also backs Filner's plan.

"It's low impact, reversible if needed, a reasonable approach, low cost, no destruction of the historic and cultural and scenic resources and fully upgradeable,'' said Alana Coons, who runs SOHO along with her husband, Bruce Coons.

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