Though La Jolla Parks and Beaches was scheduled to vote June 25 on an easement that would allow the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association to provide electricity to light its memorial plaques, walkway and the flag atop Mount Soledad, the issue was tabled until the group’s July meeting, following heated discussion on the issue.
Several committee members present spoke against granting the easement, arguing that lighting the memorial was unnecessary for safety reasons and would be disruptive to stargazers and local residents.
LJP&B Chairman Patrick Ahern offered an overview of the proposal, which was first presented to the group last month. Unless a flag is lit at night, it must be raised at dawn and lowered at sunset, he noted.
Secretary Anne Podney made an initial motion to deny approval of the lighting easement, which was seconded by LJP&B member Sally Miller. “We are flooded with lights everywhere,” Miller said. “It is so hard to find a place to look at the beautiful stars, the moon and shooting stars.”
“It is not just about La Jolla, this is a citywide attraction,” added Fran Zimmerman, who also took issue with the potential use of sound systems. “Generations of people have come up to Soledad to look at the night sky. I hope we don’t let that get eclipsed by requests for sound systems and electricity on the top of the hill.”
Several people suggested alternatives to lighting the flag, including LJP&B member Melinda Merryweather, who said the flag could be lowered and raised each day via a computer system, and a visitor who said it could be lit with the use of a solar panel.
Another person in attendance suggested that there are enough daylight hours for visitors to safely view the memorial.
“Many months of the year that park is lit till about 8:30 p.m., so you’re only talking about an hour and a half of darkness,” she said.
Others said some residents of the adjacent Windemere development were not happy with the project, and planned to attend the next LJP&B meeting to voice their opposition.
Noting that the memorial association will test-light the flag in the near future to assess its impact and obtain residents’ feedback, Chairman Ahern suggested the issue be tabled until the next meeting, 4 p.m. Monday, July 23.
“In order to maintain our credibility we need to make well-reasoned ... fully informed decisions,” Ahern said.