By Pat Sherman
At its Feb. 9 meeting, La Jolla Town Council trustees voted unanimously to approve a community revitalization project that the group first endorsed 21 years ago.
The revived Belvedere Promenade project would replace an existing one-way section of Prospect Street between Herschel and Girard avenues with a pedestrian promenade where people could gaze out over the ocean as they shopped, dined and socialized.
In addition, another one-way section of Prospect Street, just north of where Girard Avenue dips toward the ocean, would become two lanes. Parallel parking along the lower section of Girard would be converted to diagonal spaces to make up for the loss of parking on the promenade.
Second council vice-president John Weinstein said La Jolla was “missing a sort of a town square.”
“This could provide that and should be promoted as such,” he said, adding that funds could be raised for the project through the sale of memorial bricks or tiles along the promenade or on a new retaining wall included in the plans.
Architect James Alcorn designed the plans more than two decades ago as a member of the Town Council. Alcorn and others envisioned it as an antidote to the chaotic mix of vehicle and pedestrian traffic at that intersection.
“It’s basically one of the only places in the commercial core of La Jolla where you can see the ocean without going into a restaurant,” Alcorn said.
In 2004, Alcorn’s vision became an official component of the updated La Jolla Community Plan, though the question of how to fund the project has kept it on the back burner.
The original estimate for the work was between $1 and $2 million, though the cost would likely surpass that today.
“We need to take the drawings further so we can get some good estimates,” Alcorn told trustees.
Alcorn said the project would be privately financed, with fundraising being a collaborative effort with the La Jolla Village Merchants Association and other groups.
“That would be our goal,” he said. “Raising the money to do it now is something I think people are positioned to do.”
Alcorn’s firm, Alcorn & Benton Architects, recently submitted the plans to the city’s transportation department for a preliminary review. They should receive a response within 30 days, outlining any required revisions, drawings, permitting fees or traffic mitigation plans.
In other Town Council news
• Post Office update: Charles Hartford, who was installed as a trustee during the meeting, put forth a resolution to support efforts to save the Wall Street Post Office.
The U.S. Postal Service announced plans to relocate the post office and sell the building on Jan 10.
“In as much as we all endeavor to promote the beauty and quality of life in La Jolla, we, the La Jolla Town Council, resolve to support all community efforts to preserve the historic post office of Wall Street,” Hartford said. The motion passed unanimously.
• Independent La Jolla news: Cindy Greatrex, president of Independent La Jolla, noted that her organization has applied for 501(c)3 (non-profit) status so that donors’ contributions will be tax deductible. “It is a necessary step, in that we have been approached by donors who wish to give large sums of money but are hampered by the inability to ‘write it off,’” Greatrex previously told the La Jolla Light.
• Hold on valet parking: The Town Council’s Traffic and Transportation Committee proposed a motion that the council not support any pending valet parking requests, pending the creation of a valet parking master plan.
• Special events easement: A representative from the office of City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner said her office was working with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce to change the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to exempt special events lasting less than 48 hours from costly environmental reviews. The exemption could effect events such as the La Jolla Cove fireworks and La Jolla Christmas Parade. More information is available at saveourevents.org.
• Bylaw changes: At its March 8 meeting the Town Council will vote on proposed changes to its bylaws that were discussed at this month’s meeting. The organization’s bylaws have been in place since the 1950s and have changed little since then, council president Rick Wildman said.
Proposed changes include:
Whether term limits for council members and officers should be limited to six or nine years. A termed-out council member can vie for reelection after taking a year off from the council.
Whether trustees should be elected by a secret ballot or a show of hands. Though members have traditionally been elected via a secret ballot, a method is not specified in existing bylaws. Wildman said the move was suggested to increase transparency and align the organization with the structure of other community organizations.
Whether changes to the group’s bylaws should be adopted via a simple majority or a two-thirds majority.
Those who wish to weigh in on the proposed changes prior to next month’s vote should contact a member of the Town Council’s bylaws committee.