Talking Points from Mayor Sanders, re: MOU

  • For decades, our city has recognized the need for improvements to Balboa Park. For the most part, this has not happened due to lack of resources.

  • We are now presented with a real opportunity to realize long-standing goals in Balboa Park. With Irwin Jacobs and the Plaza de Panama Committee we have the potential for the most significant investment in Balboa Park since the 1935 expo.

  • The private investment that the Plaza de Panama committee has committed to will be precedent setting for future philanthropy and public-private partnerships in the park. We cannot afford to turn our back on this opportunity.

  • By approving this MOU today, you are not approving a project. You are stating your support for the vision of a better Balboa Park - one without pedestrians dodging cars, and one that will allow people to once again freely enjoy the amenities that the park has to offer.

  • This show of support will ensure that we can raise outside resources with reasonable assurance that the project will be successful, allowing completion of the objective and comprehensive environmental review that has been underway.

  • The information you get from this environmental review will allow you to weigh the pros and cons of the proposed project and the several alternatives that have been suggested but not thought through. Then, a decision can be made that is based on facts, rather than misstatements, fear and hyperbole.

  • Without this analysis, no project for Balboa Park can move forward. And without some indication that we are supportive of the vision of the project, the environmental analysis will not move forward.

  • There are only two alternatives that remove cars from the 1915 core of the park, namely the Plaza de California, West El Prado, Plaza de Panama and the Esplanade. One is the Centennial Bridge proposed by the Plaza de Panama Committee and the other is the closing of the Cabrillo Bridge to automobiles. No other solution does so.

  • The underground parking garage, supplemented by free parking elsewhere, will not only increase the number of spaces by 264, but will convert the unsightly surface parking lot that now exists behind the Organ Pavilion to additional usable parkland.

  • I urge you to approve the MOU and support the vision for eliminating cars from the core of Balboa Park while meeting the needs of the park institutions and users for access and parking. The council and the public will have many opportunities over the next several months to weigh in on the details of how this is accomplished, as they have for the last ten months. But without an indication that there is support for the vision, we will not be able to proceed.

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