BY DAVE SCHWAB
Bonair Street neighbors opposing making The Riford Center’s side entrance accessible for the disabled insist there’s a better way, while the center's board is pressing ahead with plans to do so supported by First District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner.
Neighbors who live near the adult center at 6811 La Jolla Blvd. have been talking privately ever since the Riford directors announced plans in June 2009 to upgrade the main entrance as well as create an ADA-compliant, single-door, grade-level entrance on Bonair Street.
Directors in a statement issued last month said the improvements, to be funded through a Community Development Block Grant would "improve the quality of life of elderly and disabled persons in our community" and provide an emergency exit as well.
The Bonair neighbors released a joint statement Nov. 8, saying, “The center has developed a preliminary design that will result in a permanent negative impact on a quiet residential street."
It also states the remain opposed to the plan but remain optimistic the board will consider other options.
One of those options, according to architect and Bonair neighbor David Singer, should involve putting a lift accommodating disabled people in the front of the building. Singer discounted Riford’s claim that doing so would be too difficult and expensive.
“With any mechanical device there is a certain amount of maintenance whether it’s inside or outside,” Singer said. “The real issue is whether the entrance should be in the same place whether you’re disabled or not. The primary issue is to give the same access. So to me their priorities are perhaps in question.”
La Jolla contractor Tom Grunow, who remodeled a historical home across from the Riford and who is a member of La Jolla Historical Society, has also weighing in against the center’s plans. He contends putting side ADA-access on Bonair will make it the de facto entrance to the building negatively impacting the surrounding neighborhood and potentially undermining existing property values.
Lightner wrote in an Oct. 21 letter that “there is not enough room to build a ramp on the La Jolla Boulevard side ... The cost of a lift and ongoing maintenance are concerns."
She added that "the more significant problem with a lift is that in the event of an emergency, a lift cannot be used to quickly evacuate people.”