“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
Plaza de Panama Project at 2012 Balboa Park December Nights
Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth at Balboa Park December Nights and made this year’s festival so memorable! Just like last year, the project team hosted a booth in the heart of the Plaza de Panama, providing the ideal background for the team to connect with the San Diego community. The project team had a great time sharing information on the construction phases and timeline as well as getting into the holiday spirit with event attendees!
Sign Up for Text Message Updates
If you are interested in received the latest information about the Plaza de Panama project and Balboa Park, be sure to sign up for our new text message service. Text "BALBOA" to 56512 and your mobile number will be added to our list to receive text message updates about project status and parking and access during construction. Please note standard message and data rates apply.
Plaza de Panama Program Manager Makes San Diego Magazine’s “50 People to Watch” List
Every year, San Diego Magazine selects an eclectic mix of 50 San Diegans worth watching in the coming year. Gordon Kovtun, program manager for the Plaza de Panama project, has been named to San Diego Magazine’s “50 People to Watch” list for 2013. Gordon is the Principal of KCM Group, a full-service construction management firm based in San Diego.
Construction Schedule Updated
While construction on the Plaza de Panama Project was scheduled to begin in Fall 2012, the Plaza de Panama Committee has postponed to start of construction until Mid-February 2013 to allow for the resolution of litigation filed by project opponents. A final hearing has been scheduled for February 1, 2013. Despite the shorter construction period, the project is still scheduled to be completed in early October 2014, in time for the 2015 Centennial Celebration in Balboa Park. The four construction phases, estimated time frames and areas impacted are described in our construction fact sheet (pdf). We will continue to send out regular construction updates in our enewsletter.
Plaza de Panama Project Participates in Politifest 2012
On Saturday, September 29, the project team participated in Voice of San Diego’s Politifest 2012 at Liberty Station. The event consisted of a fun-filled day of political activism where attendees visited a variety of community booths from innovative local nonprofits, one of which was for the Plaza de Panama project. The project team had a wonderful time sharing new project information and construction updates with hundreds of event attendees. This year’s Politifest also included an exciting mayoral debate, Idea Tournament, kid zone, live music, and great eats!
City Council Approves Plaza de Panama Project Financing Plan
This week the city council voted to approve the financing plan for the Spreckles Organ Pavilion public parking garage. This was an important step required to move the Plaza de Panama project into construction phase. At the city council meeting, Councilmember Todd Gloria noted, “this is a necessary step to fulfill the obligation this council entered into when it approved the project, and it represents the city’s contribution to the overall project.” The Plaza de Panama Committee is grateful to the city council for its continued support, and to all of the city staff members who worked on putting the plan together in such a timely manner.
Project Team to Participate in Upcoming Politifest
The Plaza de Panama Project team will be hosting a booth again at this year’s Politifest on September 29 from 10 am to 4 pm at Liberty Station. Put on by Voice of San Diego, this one-day festival focuses on civic issues and the future of San Diego, and is free to the public. Event attendees will be treated to a mayoral debate between the candidates, live music by The Blonde Brothers, Kid Zone complete with mini-voter booths, Stone Brewing Co. beer garden and dozens of community booths. Updated project fact sheets and information will be provided at our informational booth. We hope to see you there!
SOHO Announces Lawsuit Over City’s Project Approval
On August 13, Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego's July 9 approval of the Plaza de Panama project. While disappointing, we are not surprised that SOHO has resorted to litigation once again in a final attempt to impede the project. The Plaza de Panama project was approved after a 2-year democratic process and has been studied more than any project in Balboa Park history. Despite SOHO's lawsuit filing, we are committed to moving forward with reclaiming the park from cars and returning it to the people. Mayor Jerry Sanders issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit filing:
"Once again, SOHO is threatening to harm Balboa Park if it didn’t get its way, by delaying long-needed improvements and holding our 2015 celebration hostage. All San Diegans should be extremely disappointed, as I am, by this narrow-minded special-interest group for trying to kill a project that will only further beautify this great park.”
The Plaza de Panama project team has made great progress with preparations to move the project into the construction phase. Construction will occur in four distinct phases to ensure that two-way vehicle traffic through the park is maintained at all times during construction and safe access to all institutions is provided. Phase one will involve utility relocation to accommodate the new Organ Pavilion parking structure. The four construction phases, estimated time frames and areas impacted are described in our construction fact sheet (pdf). Overall construction on the project is scheduled to conclude in advance of the 2015 Centennial Celebration in Balboa Park. We will continue to send out regular construction updates in our enewsletter.
City Council Approves Plaza de Panama Project
We are excited to share that the San Diego City Council voted yesterday 6-1 to approve the Plaza de Panama project! The vote came after several hours of presentations and testimony by members of the public. This decision is the culmination of nearly two years of public input and review by the City, and represents a significant milestone for Balboa Park. For more than 50 years, planning efforts in the park have sought to reclaim the plazas in the core of the park from cars, yet nothing has moved forward. The Plaza de Panama project will finally accomplish this goal and return more than 6 acres of plazas, promenades and parkland to park visitors. Following in the footsteps of the 1915 and 1935 Expos that created Balboa Park as we know it today, it is a fitting gift for the 2015 Centennial that will be enjoyed for generations to come.
Now that Council has voted to approve the project, the project team will begin preparations to move the project into construction phase. We anticipate that the project will be moving into construction toward the end of the year. Stay tuned for more updates!
La Jolla Festival of the Arts Recap
Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth at the La Jolla Festival of the Arts on June 23 and 24. Produced by the Torrey Pines Kiwanis, the festival celebrated work from over 190 award-winning artists and helped to raise funds for San Diegans with disabilities. Over the weekend-long event, the project team interacted with hundreds of attendees and collected several project support signatures.
City Council Hearing
The City Council will make the final decision on the project on Monday, July 9. We invite you to join us at the City Council hearing and speak in support of the project. The meeting will be held at City Council Chambers, 202 C Street, 12th Floor, San Diego, CA, 92101. If you don’t wish to speak but want to show your support, you can fill out a speaker’s slip in support and indicate you don’t need to speak. We hope to see you there!
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