Dear Uptown News Editor:
The North Park Historical Society opposes the Plaza de Panama bridge/underground parking structure and the environmental process that is being conducted for this project by the City of San Diego. Based on our review of the environmental impact report (EIR), we found that the document is not sufficient for decision makers and the public as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). We also determined that the City has not conducted its duties as Lead Agency in accordance with the spirit and the letter of environmental law. Our detailed letter of comment is on our website at NorthParkHistory.org. This letter has been received by the City and is now part of the public record. It was written to help everyone understand the following important points.
Multiple specific requirements of CEQA have been violated by the City’s approval of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the project proponent.
By approving the MOU, the City has illegally delegated its responsibilities as Lead Agency to the project proponent.
The EIR is completely missing a specific recreation section that addresses impacts to special events such as December Nights and Earth Fair during the two years of project construction, and impacts on Morley Field recreational facilities due to disposal of 142,000 cubic yards of soil excavated for construction of the underground parking structure.
The EIR’s own analysis shows that an employee parking management plan would be more effective (and much less expensive!) than the proposed underground parking structure in enhancing visitor parking, but a plan is not proposed.
The proposed underground parking structure will not be self-sustaining with the assumed $5 parking rate, and excess operational costs will have to be paid from the General Fund.
Potential noise impacts due to the transport and disposal of soil in the Morley Field area are not analyzed, even though the extended haul route is within 200 feet of homes along 28th Street at the intersection of Pershing Drive and Redwood Street, and closer than 1,000 feet to homes along 28th and Upas streets at Jacaranda Place.
There is no discussion of impacts from construction damage to local roadways, including truck hauling along the route between the Central Mesa and East Mesa. Most of the roadways identified as the haul route have been repaved recently, including Zoo Place, Florida Drive and Pershing Drive.
The selection of the Half-Plaza Alternative in the EIR as the environmentally superior alternative is not accurate. Four other feasible alternatives analyzed in the EIR would do a better job at preventing environmental damage caused by the project as proposed; all four alternatives eliminate the underground parking structure and two would eliminate vehicles from the entire length of Cabrillo Bridge.
It is unimaginable that any perceived benefits of the proposed Centennial Bridge and Central Mesa underground parking structure components of the Plaza de Panama project could outweigh their unavoidable environmental damage to the Balboa Park National Historic Landmark District, which is the City’s historic site #1 and our crown jewel of parks.
Secretary, North Park Historical Society
Reponses to the Normal Heights joint-use park space
How disappointing to read about the closed- mindedness of the parents that have children in the 6-6 program at Normal Heights Elementary protesting equal access for all to the campus after hours. I guess they think it would be best that the other children in the neighborhood should either stay inside or play in the allies, streets or in their apartment courtyards. Schools should be community resources, available for all the neighborhood children not just the few in the 6-6 program and I applaud the opening of the campuses for joint usage in Normal Heights and in North Park at Jefferson Elementary. I personally think every school playground in the San Diego District should be open to the public after hours. Of course access to the school joint-use space comes with responsibility and the school staff and the community are going to have to work together to supervise the area. The key word is “together”. But to simply assume the worst and argue that the only people that will come to use the space will be vandals is short sighted and insult to the many responsible families in the neighborhood. Teach your kids a bigger lesson about cooperation, volunteerism and community, open your minds and support opening the playgrounds rather than keeping them under lock and key.
Jeff Ott, North Park resident
All one would have to do to find out why some people might want to
prevent the opening of the Normal Heights Elementary School joint-use
park is take a walk through the school campus. It is a gem and it is
beautifully landscaped with walks, gardens and recreational spaces. It
was built six years ago with taxpayer’s funds, and a joint-use agreement
was signed to authorize the school to control the property for
educational purposes during the school day and to open up the property
to members of the community when school was not in session. But some
people want to use a publicly funded property for their own private
park. That view prevailed for six years, but will no longer be
tolerated in the future.
Anyone familiar with the history of the new school should know that community activists associated with the Normal Heights Planning Committee strongly supported creating a new school to serve the children of the neighborhood even though it required condemnation of some housing in the area in order to have a site on which to build. There is no reason to think that community activists are any less committed to the education of the children of Normal Heights and the city of San Diego today. The parents of children at the school would best work with the community rather than raising a wall between themselves and the community.
Bob Keiser , Normal Heights resident
Let me get this straight. According to adopted City plans Normal
Heights is way deficient in park space… and now a group of school
parents wants a public joint use park closed to the public… and the
reason is… fear?
This is public land, it’s a public school adjacent to a public park that operates an after school program that requires adult supervision. What exactly are we afraid of? I’m the public, I’ve lived here a long time, and I plan to visit the park that I helped design with my grandchild. I’m not afraid.
Eighty years ago Franklin Roosevelt said that “the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself”. I agree. We are your neighbors, we live here, and we plan to use our park, all of it.
Gary Weber, Normal Heights resident