“I am saddened at the court’s decision that has effectively ended the Plaza de Panama Project. It is a shame that this action could prevent us from having the pleasure of watching children happily playing in a car-free Plaza de Panama, or enjoying a quiet cup of coffee in the Plaza de California. In the future, when it becomes obvious to all that the use of the Plaza de Panama and the Plaza de California for traffic thoroughfares and parking is not a reasonable beneficial use, the city will have available for reference detailed plans and a comprehensive EIR which has withstood the assault of one CEQA law suit.
I would like to thank all of the members of the Plaza de Panama Committee, consultants, leaders of the Park institutions, project supporters, and the many city workers who provided expertise to ensure the plans not only were in conformance with city rules but also would provide a great improvement to the core of the park.” - Dr. Irwin Jacobs
Voice of San Diego's Scott Lewis wrote this in-depth article today about Balboa Park's future. He noted his media outlet's lack of photos of the Plaza de Panama:
The other day, I asked voiceofsandiego.org's photographer Sam Hodgson if he had a picture of the Plaza de Panama. It is, after all, the heart of the park. It has a fountain in the middle and it is surrounded by some of the city's most distinctive architecture.
He reported back that he had more than 1,000 pictures of the park. Not one of the Plaza de Panama.
I couldn't blame him.
Like Scott and Sam, we're looking forward to 2015, when the Plaza de Panama's photogenic beauty is restored.
Later today, members of the public will have the opportunity to officially comment on the Plaza de Panama plan for the first time during a special meeting of the Balboa Park Committee. The Committee is an advisory body of 11 park stakeholders appointed by the Mayor to oversee requests and issues affecting Balboa Park.
The meeting will start at 6pm inside the Balboa Park Club's ballroom. Its agenda states that people should submit requests to speak to the City staff prior to the start of the meeting.
The Balboa Park Club is located at 2150 Pan American Plaza, near the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater and across from the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum.
The Plaza de Panama project was approved by the City Council on July 9, 2012. While construction was scheduled to begin in Fall 2012, the Plaza de Panama Committee has postponed the start of construction until mid-February 2013 to allow for the resolution of litigation filed by project opponents. Construction on the project is scheduled to be complete in early October 2014, in time for the 2015 Centennial Celebration in Balboa Park.
The construction phasing for the project has been highly sequenced to provide continued access to Balboa Park and its attractions throughout construction. The phasing ensures that two-way vehicle traffic through the park and access to institutions is maintained.
The construction phases, durations and areas impacted are described below and in this two-page overview.
PHASE 1: UTILITY RELOCATION
Timeline: Mid-February through March 2013
Duration: 6 weeks
Areas impacted: East side of Organ Pavilion Parking Lot, northern portion of Pan American Road West
Access: Through traffic will continue as it does today
PHASE 2A: ORGAN PAVILION PARKING STRUCTURE, TEMPORARY ROAD, TUNNEL DECK, CENTENNIAL BRIDGE
Timeline: April through June 2013
Duration: 3 months
Areas impacted: Organ Pavilion Parking Lot, Pan American Road East, Archery Range in Cabrillo Canyon
Access: Free tram service begins between Inspiration Point and the Plaza de Panama - service anticipated between 6 am-12 am approximately every 10-15 minutes; through traffic maintained using Pan American Road West and Pan American Place (roads around International Cottages)
PHASE 2B: ORGAN PAVILION PARKING STRUCTURE, ROOFTOP PARK, CENTENNIAL BRIDGE
Timeline: Late June 2013 through April 2014
Duration: 10 months
Areas impacted: Organ Pavilion Parking Lot, Archery Range in Cabrillo Canyon
Access: Free tram service continues between Inspiration Point and the Plaza de Panama - service anticipated from 6 am-12 am approximately every 10-15 minutes; through traffic returns to Pan American Road East (same route that is used today)
PHASE 3: ALCAZAR PARKING LOT & UTILITY RELOCATION
Timeline: Mid-March through Mid-June 2014
Duration: 3 months
Areas impacted: Alcazar Parking Lot
Access: Free tram service continues between Inspiration Point and Plaza de Panama - service anticipated between 6 am-12 am approximately every 10-15 minutes; through traffic continues as it does today
PHASE 4: PLAZAS, ESPLANADE & PROMENADE
Timeline: Mid-June through early October 2014
Duration: 3 1/2 months
Areas impacted: (work will be sequenced to ensure access to institutions) Plaza de California, West El Prado, Plaza de Panama, Esplanade, Pan American Promenade (formerly Pan American Road)
Access: Alcazar parking lot open for disabled parking, drop-off and valet service; Organ Pavilion parking structure open; free tram service continues between parking structure and Plaza de Panama - service hours to be determined (construction will be sequenced to allow tram access to Plaza de Panama, as possible); through traffic uses Centennial Bridge and Road
SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. UPDATES WILL BE POSTED REGULARLY.
Hall: Would you pay to park at Balboa Park? (UT San Diego: October 24, 2012)
Balboa Park Construction Delayed to February (UT San Diego: October 19, 2012)
Plaza de Panama: Balboa Park renovation set to begin in October (The Daily Transcript: August 30, 2012)
Filner Flips, Backs Balboa Park Remodel (Voice of San Diego: August 22, 2012)
SOHO Sues City Over Balboa Park Plan (UT San Diego: August 13, 2012)
- The Plaza de Panama Comittee issued a statement in response:
It’s disappointing that SOHO has chosen to waste taxpayer dollars by suing the City of San Diego in an attempt to subvert a two year democratic process. The Plaza de Panama project was approved after extensive community outreach and input (with over 200 meetings), a unanimous planning commission recommendation, and a 6-1 city council vote. The environmental review for the project was the most extensive ever done in Balboa Park history and considered over 20 alternatives. This painstaking and comprehensive effort balanced the interests of all San Diego citizens and Balboa Park users, and concluded that the approved project best prepares Balboa Park for the next 100 years while still honoring its past. It is now time for all of us to move forward with reclaiming the plazas from cars and returning them to the people.
Letter to the Community: Todd Gloria explains his vote on Balboa Park changes (San Diego Gay & Lesbian News: July 10, 2012)
Plaza de Panama Plan Approved (UT San Diego: July 10, 2012)
Council Approves Plaza de Panama Plan (NBC San Diego: July 10, 2012)
City Council Approves Controversial Balboa Park plan (KUSI News: July 10, 2012)
Editorial - Plaza de Panama Approved at City Council - My Thoughts (Scoop San Diego: July 9, 2012)
A new Balboa Park: What's gained and lost (UT San Diego: July 6, 2012)
Balboa Park: Time to act (UT San Diego: June 30, 2012)
Balboa Par (Voice of San Diego Letter: June 26, 2012) k Could Be Even Greater if Jacobs Plan Implemented
Jacobs Plan for Balboa Park 'Once-In-a-Lifetime Opportunity' (Voice of San Diego Letter: June 22, 2012)
Planning Comission Approves Plaza de Panama (KPBS Radio News: June 8, 2012)
Planning Commission Approves Balboa Park Makeover (Fox 5: June 7, 2012)
Balboa Park Plan Approved by Planning Commission (UT San Diego: June 7, 2012)
Jacobs Deserves Thanks for Offering to Pay for Balboa Park Changes (Voice of San Diego: June 7, 2012)
Balboa Park Parking Solution 'Has to be Done,' Commission Chairman Says (UT San Diego: June 5, 2012)
Plaza de Panama Project Gets Mixed Votes from Council Advisory Committees (SD Uptown News: May 25, 2012)
Editorial - Plaza de Panama Project (Scoop San Diego: May 25, 2012)
Complications Persist for Plaza de Panama Project (KPBS: May 17, 2012)
Plaza de Panama Supporters Say Opponents Using Scare Tactics (KPBS: May 15, 2012)
Plaza de Panama Plan Endorsed by Balboa Park Committee (UT San Diego: May 3, 2012)
Spanish Language TV Coverage (NBD: April 2012)
Plaza de Panama Project Forges Ahead (UrbDeZine San Diego: March 30, 2012)
Spanish Language TV Coverage (Univision: March 2012)
SD Explained: Plaza de Panama (NBC San Diego: March 22, 2012)
Get on with Balboa Park Makeover (San Diego-Union Tribune: January 26, 2012)
Balboa Park Environmental Report Offers 21 Choices to Jacobs Plan (San Diego Union-Tribune: January 23, 2012)
Plaza de Panama: Cars or People? (La Mesa Courier: January 6, 2012)
There are no community events scheduled for the remainder of 2012. 2013 events will be posted here in the near future.
The documents and presentations below were produced during the project review process, and provide more detailed information about the Plaza de Panama project and specific issues.
Lewis Plan Information
- Bill Lewis Plan Information & Impacts
City of San Diego Memos
- City Memo re: Potential for National Register Delisting
Draft EIR Information
- Extension of Public Review Notice
Draft Plan Amendments