The next chapter in the life of a stalled plan to remove cars from the center of Balboa Park could be mediation between its proponents and detractors, but the project’s chief financial backer said today he is now on the sideline.
In an interview on KPBS radio, Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs said he has told members of the Plaza de Panama Committee that the project is over.
“We made a great effort, we came up with wonderful plans, we came up with an environmental impact review that passed all court muster,” said Jacobs, who donated millions of dollars to shepherd the project through its design and environmental impact report.
“At this point, it’s over.”
On Monday, a San Diego Superior Court judge tossed out the City Council’s approval of the project. Judge Timothy Taylor ruled that the City Council wrongly found that the project area has no reasonable beneficial use if the plan does not go forward — a finding needed to alter a historic resource.
The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the Save Our Heritage Organisation, which opposes a proposed bridge that will carry traffic around the Plaza de Panama and Plaza de California.
The bridge would be unsightly and jeopardize the park’s historic status, according to SOHO.
“At this point I’m just a bystander,” Jacobs said.
After the ruling was announced, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner reiterated his offer to get the various sides talking again in mediation.
In the radio interview, Jacobs said no alternatives proposed by SOHO would accomplish the goals set out for the project.
Bruce Coons, executive director of SOHO, followed Jacobs on the KPBS program and said a half-dozen other plans are “really good options” and another six or so would be acceptable.
“It’s not a hard thing to do, it’s really not,” Coons said.
For those worried about traffic going through the plazas, Coons pointed out that the Cabrillo Bridge, which carries vehicles over state Route 163, will be closed for retrofitting by Caltrans soon, and parking probably won’t be allowed in the plazas during the 2015 park centennial celebrations.