By Dave Schwab
After hearing a group of Bonair Street residents’ protests on Thursday night, planning group trustees referred the Riford Center ADA-access ramp back to the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance (PDO) Committee for further review.
The PDO Committee gives input on local projects to the planning group, which then sends its recommendations to the city based on conformance with La Jolla’s rules and regulations.
On a 9-6-3 vote, planning association trustees voted to send a letter to the Riford board urging them to return to the committee to discuss plans for a ramp at the front of the adult center at 6811 Blvd. The letter will also urge the board to address neighbors’ objections to putting a temporary side entrance on Bonair Street while the ramp is built.
Before the vote, Tricia Kaye, one of the nearby neighbors said, “We welcome the decision to comply with the ADA construction ramp at the front of the building, but we are equally appalled that the Riford Center is still pursuing an unnecessary, additional side entrance which will have commercial impacts on a residential street,.
Liana Bowdler, stressed a point made by others: "The fact is they have an ADA-accessible entrance now that was approved in 1996" and contractor Tom Grunow said he fears that noise from any side entrance, even a temporary one, will disturb surrounding homes and “set a terrible precedent for this fragile neighborhood.”
Frances O’Neill Zimmerman expressed another concern: “The Riford Center is looking to have an expanded program of hours weekends and nights and this will impact the neighborhood."
Riford president Glen Rasmussen said Friday morning the board was awaiting direction from the City Attorney’s office on “what we’re supposed to do ... It’s out of the board’s hands now.”
He did not attend Thursday’s meeting, since the item had been removed from the planning group agenda Friday morning. It was added back when a large contingent of neighbors showed up and asked to be heard.
Rasmussen said the Riford is “trying to satisfy conflicting federal and state law in interpreting the ADA, and we’re going to be provided with that, hopefully today or next week.”
The center is “a city-owned building subject to city mandates and those are always constantly changing,” he added.
Planning group Trustee Joe LaCava, who made the motion to send the matter back to the PDO, said his motion “had nothing to do with the merits of the proposal or the merits of the neighbors’ opposition. It had to do with ensuring we follow proper processes and procedures.”
LaCava said the confusion created by the item being on the agenda and then being removed “didn’t give people the opportunity to participate in the review, made it impossible to be heard last night, so the option was to send it back to PDO.”
Michael Morton, architect for the Riford ramp, said the project was pulled from the agenda because it was ministerial, requiring city staff approval only, and was not subject to community planning review.