After putting up millions to help bankroll the project to renovate Plaza de Panama in time for Balboa Park's Centennial Celebration, Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs said he was saddened by a judge’s ruling effectively ending to the project.
The controversial project included the construction of a bypass road off the Cabrillo Bridge and an 800-space underground paid parking lot in the large public park in the heart of San Diego.
On Feb. 4, a San Diego judge’s ruling put an end to the project that took years for approval and was set to break ground in a manner of weeks.
In response to a petition filed by project opponents Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO), Judge Timothy Taylor ruled the City must set aside its approval of the Site Development Permit needed for the project because of a municipal code violation.
“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,” Jacobs wrote in a prepared statement released Tuesday by the Plaza de Panama Committee.
“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,” he continued.
In a rare interview, Jacobs once debated the main points of the project with SOHO’s Bruce Coons on the NBC 7 San Diego “Politically Speaking” with Gene Cubbison.
Jacobs maintained the plan was a “win-win” for the city and the visitors to the public park.
“We hope to have more and more people visiting the park that means we have to contend with this traffic, make sure the cars are out of the way, not encountering pedestrians,” Jacobs said in that interview.
SOHO issued a victory statement Tuesday that said "Balboa Park is saved."
"This project embodied broader and darker implications for Balboa Park's future," wrote Coons. "The plan would have caused significant, irreparable and irreversible harm to Balboa Park's historic structures, its environment, its canyons and roadways."
San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said he is "carefully reviewing the judge’s interpretation of the City’s ordinance at issue" and will announce the city's next step in the near future.