SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A revived plan to remove vehicle traffic from the center of San Diego's Balboa Park cleared its initial hurdle Thursday when the City Council's Infrastructure Committee approved spending $1 million to complete planning and documentation.
The plan envisions shutting off traffic in the Plaza de Panama, Plaza de California and Esplanade areas of the park, constructing a vehicle bypass bridge and building a parking garage behind the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
The City Council first approved of the project four years ago, but it was overturned by a judge on a technicality. The city later won an appeal, and Mayor Kevin Faulconer recently revived the idea.
During the intervening time, parking areas have been taken away from the Plaza de Panama. The open area between the Museum of Man and El Prado cultural institutions has been spruced up with seating areas and landscaping, but there are still conflicts between moving vehicles and pedestrians.
The unanimous committee action, which needs approval by the full City Council next month, would give the project a place in the city's capital improvements budget for this fiscal year.
"Although it is a priceless San Diego treasure, there is quite a bit of deferred maintenance as most of us are aware, and I think if we want the park to be around for our grandchildren, we need to certainly up our game when it comes to investment,'' committee Chairman Mark Kersey said.
According to city staff, it appears the entire project will cost around $70-75 million, with the municipal contribution capped at $45 million and philanthropy covering the rest. A detailed financing plan is expected to go before the City Council in November.
Bruce Coons, the executive director of the preservation group Save Our Heritage Organisation, who sued to stop the original project and has vowed to fight it again, said city taxpayers will end up bearing the entire cost.
Vicki Granowitz, chairwoman of the North Park Planning Committee, said the plan was being "steam-rolled through'' despite significant opposition.
"It actually doesn't accomplish the things you want it to,'' said Granowitz, who contended the parking garage would attract even more vehicles into the center of the park.
Jim Kidrick, president and CEO of the San Diego Air and Space Museum, called opponents the ``usual naysayers'' who always oppose new projects.
Powerball Product Group Chair Charlie McIntyre says the $758.7 million jackpot claimed by a ticket sold in Massachusetts is the largest grand prize won by a single lottery ticket in U.S. history.
Ocean Beach residents on Wednesday packed the town council meeting to voice their opposition to plans for a Target Express in their neighborhood.
A skate legend hit the boardwalk in Mission Beach Wednesday. Tony Hawk held a skate "sesh" outside Belmont Park to show off his new board collection. News 8's Shawn Styles caught up with the skating star to find out more.
A former high school teacher who downloaded and possessed thousands of images of child pornography, some of which depicted children under the age of 12, was sentenced Wednesday to more than eight years in federal prison.
Back to school season includes new clothes, school supplies and often a new haircut. However, some parents might not have a fresh cut in the budget.
Back to school season includes new clothes, school supplies and often a new haircut. However, some parents might not have a fresh cut in the budget. To help those families and students, The Larry Himmel Foundation and California Barber & Beauty College are joining forces to provide free back to school haircuts for kids around San Diego for the 2nd Annual Back-to-School Haircut event.
Sixteen people and at least one dog fled from a burning home Wednesday morning in the Oak Park neighborhood just minutes before the house became fully engulfed in flames, authorities said.
The U.S. Department of State on Tuesday warned U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain parts of Mexico due to the activities of criminal organizations in those areas.
Testimony got underway Wednesday in a preliminary hearing for a former Navy man accused of torturing and disfiguring his next-door neighbors' dogs over a period of months in Oceanside, poisoning them, burning them with acid and gouging out one of their eyes.