Lawsuit Slows Balboa Park Renovations

Organization says city didn’t consider environment

Balboa Park renovations have reached another roadblock, as the city struggles to reach agreements with local preservationists.

The Plaza de Panama project would add a parking garage south of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, clearing traffic from the park.

A “Memorandum of Understanding” served as a contract with the Plaza de Panama Committee, approving the Balboa Park Parking and Circulation Project. The city approved the memorandum in July.

Following the city’s approval, the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) sued the San Diego Superior Court. SOHO claimed the city approved the contract before the completion of a State environmental review.

SOHO is requesting that the city set aside the contract while the review is pending.

“[The memorandum] is a detailed agreement delineating terms for funding and constructing the $40 million Balboa Park Circulation and Parking Project,” reads a statement from SOHO’s website. “Scores of San Diego residents and organizations contend that the project would have devastating impacts on the iconic architecture and cultural landscapes of Balboa Park, a national historic landmark.”

The Plaza de Panama Committee is chaired by Irwin Jacobs, who is in charge of raising the funds necessary for the renovation.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith's office told the Union Tribune that the city did not violate state environmental law, nor is the memorandum a guarantee that the project will go through.

"Setting aside this MOU is the only way to ensure that the city will take a fair and open look at the alternative solutions to parking and traffic issues, impacts to the historic and cultural needs and the restoration of Balboa Park favored by San Diego citizens and Balboa Park supporters statewide," said SOHO executive director Bruce Coons to the Union Tribune.

Read more about the city's approval of the memorandum in our coverage of the unfolding plans.

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