The Uptown Community Planning group is holding a Special Meeting this Thursday, February 16th, 6-8pm at St. Paul’s Cathedral “Great Hall”, 2750 Fifth Ave. The important topic at hand is the Plaza de Panama project in Balboa Park—traffic circulation, parking structure project, and review/comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR).
Project elements include:
- Plaza de Panama: Eliminate automobile traffic from the Plaza de Panama and adjacent promenades and remove parking from the Plaza.
- El Prado and Plaza de Panama: Allow pedestrian use of El Prado and Plaza de California by re-routing traffic to the bypass bridge.
- Bypass Road and Bridge: Construction of a new two-way bypass road starting at the east end of the Cabrillo Bridge and continuing through the eucalyptus grove around the southwest corner of the Museum of Man to the Alcazar Parking Lot.
- Alcazar Parking Lot and Walkway: Redesign the Alcazar Parking Lot to provide additional accessible parking as well as passenger drop-off, museum loading, and valet.
- Esplanade & Pan American Road: Reclaim both the Esplanade and Pan American Road for pedestrian access by rerouting vehicle traffic west of Pan American Road.
- Parking Structure and Roof-top Park: Construct a new parking structure with a roof-top park and garden at the location of an existing Organ Pavilion
The project has drawn many critics, especially against construction of a parking structure in the middle of Balboa Park and a bypass bridge stemming from Cabrillo Bridge. If proposed plans follow through, critics and the State Office of Historic Preservation (SHPO) have asserted that Balboa Park’s status as a National Historic Landmark District (NHLD) may be at risk, as mentioned in Elizabeth’s last article. State Historian Wayne Donaldson wrote in a letter (PDF) that “This massive project composed of unnecessary, intrusive, and incompatible new construction severely impairs the public’s ability to appreciate and understand the National Historic Landmark. Millions of visitors annually visit Balboa Park. Their experience and understanding of a remarkable historic setting would be impaired.”
Photo by Diane Yee: Cabrillo Bridge closed to auto traffic—and crowded with people—at Balboa Park’s December Nights, 12.03.2011.