The Balboa Park renovation project has been suspended.
Qualcomm founder and Plaza de Panama Committee Chair Irwin Jacobs announced that he would be suspending his work on the project. A series of concerns regarding the Plaza’s parking plan impacted Jacobs' decision.
A Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) Tweeted the change in plans for the Plaza de Panama project Wednesday night after a meeting with Mayor’s office staffer Gerry Braun.
The dominos began to fall when the city’s Rules Committee submitted a vote of “no confidence” in the project. They were critical of a contract outlining the Plaza de Panama parking plan.
Committee members and the public raised questions regarding the parking plan, which would use a $14 million revenue bond to pay for the Plaza’s parking garage. User parking fees would repay the bond.
Without the support of the Rules Committee, the Plaza de Panama Committee, which Jacobs heads, decided to suspend the project.
In a statement, Mayor Jerry Sanders called the suspension of the project “a huge loss for all San Diegans.”
“For the past year, it has been my honor to work with Dr. Irwin Jacobs on a plan to transform Balboa Park, perhaps the most beloved place in San Diego, and to begin solving its parking and circulation problems,” Sanders' statement reads.
Along with Jacobs’ vision, Sanders applauded his perseverance “in the face of the mean-spirited attacks and false accusations that must be endured by anyone who tries to bring meaningful change to San Diego.”
“I applaud Dr. Jacobs for his wisdom and selflessness, and wish more San Diegans had his courage in the face of adversity,” Sanders wrote.
SOHO opposes the Plaza de Panama project, and sent a Memorandum of Understanding to the Rules Committee. The organization is critical of the bypass bridge, paid parking garage and other alterations to the park.
"Dr. Jacobs was well within his rights to read the writing on the wall for today’s action and to pull the plug on the funding for the project," Braun told members of SOHO.
"Personally I thought it was a brilliant project that would bring a lot to Balboa Park but this is a community where there are a lot of different voices involved," Braun added.
Councilmember Todd Gloria, who represents Balboa Park, expounded on the vote in hopes of an altered Plaza de Panama plan.
“Mark my words, the community's vision for a parking free/pedestrian friendly Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park will be achieved by 2015,” Gloria said in a Tweet Wednesday night.