Mayor Bob Filner has presented a plan to temporarily manage traffic at Plaza de Panama at Balboa Park, aiming to make the park more pedestrian friendly as it approaches its 2015 centennial.

Presented to the city’s advisory Balboa Park Committee during its recent meeting at the park, the plan includes resurfacing Plaza de Panama and removing parking, signs and striping. Filner also proposes relocating handicap parking to the lot south of the Alcazar Garden, and to ensure that the lot is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Cabrillo Bridge would remain open to vehicles Monday through Friday, with traffic through Plaza de Panama restricted to a two-way drive aisle separated by barriers to protect pedestrians. On weekends and holidays, the bridge would be closed on the west end at Sefton Plaza, using removable barriers.

The mayor also wants to relocate valet parking from the southeast corner of Plaza de Panama to the parking lot south of Casa de Balboa.

The plan will be discussed in coming weeks with the park committee and other city officials. It is intended to replace a previously abandoned $45 million plan to renovate the western entrance of Balboa Park put together by the Plaza de Panama Committee, led by Qualcomm Inc. founder Irwin Jacobs.

The private entity had pledged to raise more than $30 million toward the cost of that proposal, which would have included rerouting streets and constructing an underground parking garage. The plan was dropped earlier this year, after local preservationists won a legal challenge that resulted in city-issued permits being rescinded.

— SDBJ Staff Report