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In final weeks, opponents float new Balboa Park plan

A plan to remove cars from Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama will face its biggest hurdle in a few weeks. The City Council is due to vote July 9 on the plan, which has sparked fiery discussions and divided community groups and park institutions in the two years since Mayor Jerry Sanders and philanthropist Irwin Jacobs announced it together.

Today, the plaza in front of several central park museums is a complicated mess of cars, roundabout traffic and pedestrians. The city has planned for decades to return it to solely pedestrian use.

Jacobs’ plan diverts traffic on a bypass bridge to the right of the Cabrillo Bridge through to a new parking structure. He wants that final approval this summer so the cars can be gone from the plaza in time for a giant 2015 celebration.

But a coalition of opponents led by the Save Our Heritage Organisation say the bypass bridge irreparably impacts the historic character of the park by partially obscuring the entrance façade. (That façade is now partially obscured by trees and foliage).

While opponents also want to remove parking from the plaza, they’ve floated a number of alternatives in hopes of killing the bypass bridge. They’ve talked about just closing Cabrillo Bridge entirely to cars — an unpopular idea with museum and theater directors — or sending cars through the plaza but not allowing them to park.

Read the full story in Voice of San Diego HERE.