Jacobs reacts to plaza redo
Filner's plan gets a qualified thumbs-up from backer of alternate plan
Written by Roger Showley
7/3/13 - San Diego Union Tribune - Original article
Frank Palacios, center, from Temecula, holds hands with sons Mikel, 9, left, and Caleb, 11, as they, brother Abrahan, 15, far left, and cousin Carlos Escobedo, far right, walk across the Plaza de Panama. - Hayne Palmour IV
Irwin Jacobs isn't a sore loser, when it comes to getting the cars out of the center of Balboa Park.
He pronounced himself "very pleased" with Mayor Bob Filner's scaled back changes, but he still holds out hope for further additions.
Jacobs, who commented on the park's Plaza de Panama at the end of a Tuesday interview on his latest contributions to the downtown Central Library, had proposed a $45 million plan in 2010 to make the center of the park largely carfree.
But a judge turned down the plan earlier this year and Jacobs gave up on his campaign, after having spent about $8 million in planning and legal fees.
However, his Plaza de Panama Committee has appealed the judge's ruling, as has his chief opponent, the Save Our Heritage Organisation, although on different grounds. It may be many months, if not years, before there's a final ruling and even if the Jacobs plan is upheld, it's unclear whether he would renew his financial support.
Irwin Jacobs unveils his Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park in August 2010. A judge ruled against the project in February 2013. - Peggy Peattie
For now, Jacobs said Filner's plan to remove the 60-odd parking spaces from the plaza has accomplished what he had hoped would happen. The plaza reopened to public use last week after it had been resurfaced with a cream-colored coating. Weekend strollers, joggers and visitors generally applauded the carfree conditions.
"I saw it in its not-quite-finished condition," Jacobs said. "It's a great plaza. I'm very pleased to see it cleared."
However, he reserved judgment to see how traffic flows change when the Cabrillo Bridge closes, as Filner plans, on weekends and holidays, starting Sept. 7. The bridge is scheduled to be closed completely to motorists for several months early next year while Caltrans makes repairs to the roadbed.
Jacobs said he hopes his proposed 800-space parking garage south of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and the regrading of the lot south of the Alcazar Garden might come to pass.
"But that's in the future," he said.
"Overall, I'm very pleased to see, in particular, the plaza has been cleared," he said. "I think that space is going to get used. The consolation (to not getting his plan implemented) is really seeing that space in use."
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