Group protests Balboa Park car-free plan

City News Service

Members of a group opposed to a plan to keep vehicles out of the center of Balboa Park rallied on the Laurel Street Bridge Monday, the eve of a City Council hearing that could determine the proposal's fate.

The plan is to re-route car traffic from the bridge on the west side of the park, remove cars from the Plaza de Panama to make it pedestrian-friendly and build a parking garage near the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

Bruce Coons, of the Save Our Heritage Organisation, said he supports the idea of keeping the plaza car-free, but opposes the manner in which it will be carried out.

"We're against this method,'' Coons told NBC 7/39.

Opponents say the changes needed to keep cars out of the plaza will disrupt other areas of the park, including the scenic Alcazar Garden and the organ pavilion. Coon called the plan "way overkill.''

On Tuesday, the City Council will consider a memorandum of understanding with the Plaza de Panama Committee, a citizens group tasked with raising $25 million to pay for the bulk of the project. The MOU commits the city and committee to working together but leaves final project approvals with council members.

The committee, backed financially so far by Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, needs the MOU in order to conduct fundraising.

Supporters of the plan hope to have the makeover complete in time for Balboa Park's centennial in four years.

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