La Jolla News Nuggets: MESOM readies for opening, Cove cleanup, Windemere saga at City Council … and more

City workers will construct a plywood barrier fence here to protect harbor seals from noise and visual distraction while the old lifeguard tower at La Jolla Children’s Pool is demolished and a new one is built. File

Compiled by Pat Sherman

Delay on lifeguard tower: Work on the new lifeguard tower at Children’s Pool beach has been delayed slightly. City of San Diego project manager Jihad Sleiman said the city is still waiting for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to issue an Incidental Marine Mammal Harassment Permit before the work can begin. The permit is required in case construction causes an unintended disturbance to seals on the beach.

Sleiman said the permit should be issued by the end of this week, with work starting on June 15, beginning with construction of a plywood barrier fence to minimize disturbance to the seals. The fence will be in front of an existing, five-foot-tall chain-link fence enclosing the old lifeguard tower.

Sleiman said the National Marine Fisheries Service would determine the height of the fence, though he estimates it will be about eight feet or higher. If the permit is issued on time, demolition of the old tower should begin on June 17, he said.

The beach will not be closed this summer during demolition or construction of the new tower, though the seawall will be closed temporarily while a ramp leading to the new public restrooms is constructed.

“I would like to ask (the public) to kind of bear with us,” Sleiman said. “We’re looking at getting in there, getting the work done, and getting out hopefully within a year, maybe less.”

Employees of Blue Eagle Distribution test their product on the guano-encrusted cliffs north of La Jolla Cove on May 28. File

Cove cleanup pending safety plan: San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s recently instituted plan to cleanse the cliffs above La Jolla Cove of pungent bird guano has met with some minor “contracting hiccups,” according to Keith Merkel, a marine biologist the city hired to oversee the work.

Blue Eagle Distribution, the company contracted by the city to apply a bioactive solution to “digest” the guano, must first submit a proposal to the city detailing its plans in greater detail — particularly how it intends to keep its workers safe.

“The rocks, with that much guano on them, are going to be slippery and a hazard and a risk,” Merkel said. “We don’t want someone to slip and fall and get hurt.”

Blue Eagle will affix ropes to its workers to prevent them from getting too close to the edge, Merkel said.

“A fall in the case of this project should be a slip and fall on the rock, not a fall over the edge,” he said.

The city has also requested that Blue Eagle prepare a batch of its product for use on the cliffs that does not contain its trademark blue dye. “There’s nothing wrong with the dye,” Merkel said. “It’s a food coloring, but the concern is that it (might) effectively create a blue sheen across the areas as they’re treated. It’s just one more perception issue that we don’t need to deal with.”

The workers will next return to the Cove, beginning just north of where the cormorants are nesting, above La Jolla Cove beach.

Merkel said he visited the bluffs near the La Jolla caves last week where workers tested the product. The product, tested as both a spray and foam, appears to be working, he said.

“The activity of the microbes starts fairly quickly,” Merkel said. “One of the immediate things that will happen is a deodorizer effect. The consumption of the guano … takes a little bit longer.”

Only a chalky residue should remain, he said.

“Consider it like an ash left after a fire, like a dust. How much of that is left won’t be clear until it happens, then that could be swept up or it could be left in place.”

Merkel said he will meet with Blue Eagle representatives by the end of the week to review their plans and hopefully give them the green light to resume their work, before the end of the month.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s controversial MESOM project as seen during an earlier phase of construction.

MESOM dedication time: Select La Jollans will get a glimpse of Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s (SIO) Marine Ecosystem Sensing, Observation and Modeling Laboratory (MESOM) on June 14.

The invitation-only tour of the building will include a presentation by SIO officials, scientists and UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla.

A separate tour date will be established for interested community members, SIO said.

The 40,000-square-foot research facility angered some residents, who felt that it was constructed at a height greater than what was initially presented by UCSD officials.

Property owner Frank Bottini argues before the Development Permit Review committee for the right to build a single-family residence on his property, where Irving Gill's 'Windemere' cottage once stood. File

A house divided: During its June 3 meeting the San Diego City Council was split on whether to grant an appeal of a city-issued environmental determination that allowed for the demolition of Irving Gill’s ‘Windemere’ cottage. The cottage was built in La Jolla during the 1890s and demolished on Dec. 23, 2011 after a historical report commissioned by the property owner found too many aspects of the structure had been damaged or altered.

After voting twice, the council was still tied 4-4, with La Jolla’s representative, Sherri Lightner, and council members Myrtle Cole, David Alvarez and Marti Emerald favoring the appeal, and council members Kevin Faulconer, Mark Kersey, Lori Zapf and Todd Gloria opposing it.

Councilmember Scott Sherman, who is associated with the brokerage firm that carries the La Jolla Historical Society’s insurance policy, recused himself from the vote.

The item will be considered again during the June 24 city council meeting.

The La Jolla Historical Society (LJHS) and La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) both filed appeals of the city’s environmental determination, arguing that the demolition violated the terms of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because the property owner did not state his intent to rebuild on the site when applying for a permit to demolish Windemere (a process known as project segmentation).

LJHS attorney Julie Hamilton argued that the demolition also violated CEQA because Windemere was in the process of being considered for a state historic designation.

“Everybody agrees that the city had been notified (of the pending historic designation) … just that different divisions in Development Services were not aware.”

Under the terms of CEQA — regardless of whether the property is designated as historic —  it must be considered historic if there is substantial evidence to suggest its historicity, Hamilton contends.

The property at 1328 Virginia Way where famed architect Irving Gill's 'Windemere' cottage stood before it was demolished on Dec. 23, 2011 via a city-issued emergency demolition permit.

“The city continues to believe that if a property is not designated as historic, there’s no impact,” she said. “It’s just not consistent with what CEQA says and what case law related to CEQA says.”

Those opposed to the appeal discussed whether the property owner was being treated unfairly when he had followed the rules set forth by the city, with Faulconer arguing that the owner shouldn’t be prevented from building on his property because of a potential error by city staff.

In an e-mail, property owner Frank Bottini told the La Jolla Light he and his wife, Nina, were thankful for those who voted against the appeal.

“We strongly believe that the appeal is without merit since the city’s own Historic Resources Board (HRB) voted three times not to designate the house historical,” Bottini said. “It is undisputed that the HRB ruling is not (subject to appeal), and yet the LJHS and LJCPA are improperly attempting to use their current appeal … of the environmental aspects of our coastal development permit as a back door appeal of the HRB determination. We look forward to working with the city on bringing this matter to a close, so that Nina and I can move forward with building a home for our family.”

UCSD to confer 8,085 diplomas: The majority of UC San Diego’s nine remaining commencement ceremonies will take place June 14-16. They were preceded by graduations for the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences on May 18 and the School of Medicine on June 2.

Comedian Lewis Black

Speakers for the commencement series will include comedian Lewis Black, former White House doctor Connie Mariano and former president of the University of California system Richard Atkinson, who will give the keynote address to 8,085 graduating students.

The commencement weekend kicks off with the university’s seventh annual All Campus Graduation Celebration at 5 p.m., Friday, June 14.

The all-campus event will feature a dinner, fireworks show and speech from university alumnus Robert Buckley, an actor who has appeared on the CW’s “One Tree Hill” and in NBC’s “Lipstick Jungle.” After earning a degree in economics at UCSD in 2003, Buckley spent a year and a half working as an economic consultant before pursuing a career in entertainment.

Goodwill donation center coming: Goodwill Industries will open a donation center at the rear of its future store at 7631 Girard on June 27. The donation center will be open seven days a week for La Jollans to drop off clean, reusable clothing and household goods for the nonprofit organization. A receipt for tax purposes will be provided.

“We are very excited about this new location in the heart of La Jolla’s retail district,” said Goodwill’s San Diego County chief executive officer, Mike Rowan, in a statement. “Goodwill’s retail store is in the final stages of getting ready to open, but we haven’t set a date yet.”

Goodwill’s mission is “to get people with disabilities and other barriers to employment jobs by developing their skills and work habits through training and real work.”

Donation center hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more details, visit

La Jolla volunteers sought: Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego is seeking volunteers to stand at La Jolla intersections the morning of June 27 for its countywide Red Shoe Day fundraiser. The event benefits families with a critically ill or injured child being treated at local hospitals.

Donning festive attire and carrying iconic red shoes, Red Shoe Day volunteers will be stationed at major intersections to collect cash donations during the morning commute. Businesses, families, groups and individuals can form teams or join existing teams to participate.

La Jolla residents who are unable to volunteer at an intersection can support San Diego’s Ronald McDonald House by donating on June 27 or creating a personal fundraising page to collect online donations from friends and families. For more information or to register, visit

Correction: California Closets will open a showroom and design center in the near future at the corner of Girard Avenue and Torrey Pines Road, a site formerly occupied by Beyond Tech speaker and electronics store (not at the adjacent, vacant space on Torrey Pines Road, as reported in the May 30 La Jolla Light story, “A Chunk of Change”).

Related posts:

  1. UPDATED (Jan. 25): Webcam to monitor seals installed at La Jolla Children’s Pool
  2. La Jolla’s beach cottages: An issue of integrity
  3. 2012: A Year Like No Other in La Jolla
  4. Fisheries researchers prepare for move to new La Jolla digs
  5. Outraged planning group demands Scripps lop a story off MESOM building in La Jolla

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Posted by Pat Sherman on Jun 4, 2013. Filed under Featured Story, La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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