Judge to "Ponder" Plaza de Panama

By Sarah Grieco and Gene Cubbison
|  Friday, Feb 1, 2013  |  Updated 5:05 PM PDT
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Balboa Park Plaza de Panama Project Hits Legal Snag

Plaza de Panama Project

The area of the park where an underground parking structure is proposed in Plaza de Panama.

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Balboa Park Plaza de Panama Project Hits Legal Snag

Voice of San Diego's Kelly Bennett discusses a tentative ruling that says the city of San Diego and Plaza de Panama Committee violated municipal code. Get more from voiceofsandiego.org here.
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The judge who issued a tentative ruling that the City of San Diego and The Plaza de Panama Committee violated municipal code for a Balboa Park Project said he needs time to think about his decision.

The controversial project includes 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. The idea is to rid the plaza of dozens of parking spaces and all the traffic that passes through it, to free it up for pedestrians.

READ: A Timeline of Plaza de Panama

Judge Timothy Taylor released a tentative ruling last week that favored the Save Our Heritage Foundation. Their legal challenge said the plan is environmentally destructive, and violates not only city regulations, but standards set by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior and National Parks Service, which has threatened to re-consider the park's designation as a historic landmark.

Taylor’s ruling agreed that the Plaza de Panama Committee wasn’t accurate in describing the area of the park as having "no reasonable beneficial” – a requirement for the permit. The ruling even suggests that the loss of the funds already raised by the committee would be a “sad day for San Diego.”

The hope is to get Plaza de Panama done in time for the grand opening on the Centennial celebration of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

Taylor said in court on Friday that in light of the public interest, this decision is something he needs to ponder. He said it could take a couple hours or days, and will alert people of his decision as soon as he can.

Attorneys from the two sides declined comment until after the judge's ruling is issued.

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