Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins hears from constituents at La Jolla Library

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California State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-78) listens as Patrick Ahern and Rebecca Morales discuss plans for the Whale View Point Shoreline Enhancement Project. Pat Sherman photos

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By Pat Sherman

Sandwiched between Toni Atkins’ 52nd birthday and her stint as acting governor — a rare occurrence for a State Assembly speaker that landed her a Skype appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” — La Jolla’s legislative representative took time to meet with constituents at La Jolla Library, listening to concerns ranging from homelessness and drought conditions to teen mothers receiving public aid.

Representing La Jolla Parks and Beaches (LJP&B) community advisory group, Patrick Ahern and Rebecca Morales touted the Whale View Point Shoreline Enhancement Project, which would restore the coastal trail at Whale View Point, including the addition of drought-tolerant landscaping. LJP&B is seeking funds for restoration of the rugged, treacherous pathway, which they hope to have recognized as an official part of the California Coastal Trail — which would connect the entire 1,200-mile stretch of California Coastine, from Mexico to Oregon.

Atkins noted that more than $5.3 billion in Prop. 84 funding (including money for coastal resources protection) has all but dried up, suggesting LJP&B instead seek funding from the California Coastal Conservancy, a state agency established in 1976 to enhance coastal resources and access.

Atkins asked that Ahern and Morales send plans to her office electronically, to be forwarded to Policy Director Deanna Spehn, whom she said in recent years was part of a group working on a solution to the La Jolla Cove odor.

“She can just see what’s available in ocean conservancy money,” Atkins said.

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California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins listens to constituent Adrienne Samuels speak about her concern with products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) during Atkins’ July 31 visit to La Jolla Library.

Penelope Vining of WindanSea expressed concern with the number of green lawns in La Jolla. “This constant watering of lawns is crazy to me when we have such serious drought conditions,” Vining said. “I just don’t understand the disconnect.”

Atkins noted that in San Diego water use has actually decreased 27 percent since 2007, while the region gained 600,000 people due to a combined effort of local cities and the San Diego County Water Authority.

Atkins told Vining that San Diego-based Rain Bird Corporation has created irrigation “that sort of gauges how much water you (use) based on real need, as opposed to … blanket watering you see in the parks and golf courses and cemeteries.

“It’s a real infrastructure investment that cities and communities would have to make to upgrade all of their irrigation systems. … Municipalities and large organizations have a harder time catching up … but the technology does exist,” she said. “There have been rules passed at the state and it’s trickling down to jurisdictions to actually force people to quit using as much water, and that there will be penalties and fines.”

Adrienne Samuels of Solana Beach dropped by to express her concern that food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not properly labeled.

“I’m a researcher by training and I can see that the studies that the industry says show that GMOs are safe, (really) don’t say that,” said Samuels, who phoned Monsanto — a leading producer of genetically engineered food — and was referred to a page with hundreds of studies that she said did not convince her GMOs are safe.

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