Options being considered after judge rules against Balboa Park project

Plaza de Panama project scrapped

SAN DIEGO - A judge's ruling on a controversial Balboa Park project has left many wondering what could be next for the park.

On Monday, San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor ruled that the Plaza de Panama project could not proceed. The project was supposed to include a bridge that would divert traffic from the center of the park to a parking structure.

The plan was supposed to cost $45 million, with $30 million coming from Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs.

However, the Save Our Heritage Organisation said the San Diego City Council violated the municipal code when it approved the plan.

Taylor agreed with SOHO, and his ruling forced the project to be scrapped.

The judge's decision prompted Jacobs to pull funding, and the billionaire declared the project "over."

"There's no doubt about it, that when you look at the dollars that may not be available for this project now, it makes it very difficult, said San Diego City Councilman Kevin Faulconer.

However, many believe there are still ways to keep vehicle traffic out, including a proposed parking structure in the parking lot of the San Diego Zoo.

"There seems to be a consensus -- everybody wants the cars out of the plaza and there's still some options. They're compromises, but I think they can be done," said Balboa Park Committee Chairman David Kinney.

The question now is how?

"Well, one of the options is a version of what's in the master plan, and that is to remove parking from the plaza but to allow cars to drive through the southwest corner," said Kinney.

Right now, traffic travels north and west around the park's fountain.

"I believe, and I'm not a traffic engineer, but I believe that could be routed so they would go south of the fountain so everything -- the fountain and north -- could be pedestrian," Kinney said.

Faulconer said they will look at options in the coming weeks to find solutions to take care of both the vehicle traffic and the loss of funding.

"San Diegans and our city are all about giving back to our city," said Faulconer.

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