Our Readers Write: La Jollans speak out about dangerous street-intersections, unleashed dogs in public parks, public use of La Jolla High track, how to handle seals/sea lions and other hot topics

Our Readers Write / Opinion / Letters to the Editor:

Letters to the Editor from the March 16 and 23, 2017 issues of La Jolla Light as La Jollans speak out on local issues:

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••• Readers call-out dangerous intersections

After the March 16 La Jolla Light story, "Two La Jolla-area intersections cited among City of San Diego's most dangerous," the Light received e-mails from several concerned residents reporting additional dangerous road crossings throughout the 92037 ZIP code.

Torrey Pines Road and Girard Avenue: "The intersection at Girard and Torrey Pines is treacherous for those crossing to the north across the street. There is a 'No Turn on Red' sign, but drivers will routinely run that light just as pedestrians are stepping into the crosswalk. Maybe the 'No Turn on Red' sign should be repositioned. It is somewhat lost up there right now, and people either aren't seeing it or are ignoring it to the peril of pedestrians. I've experienced two or three close calls, and I've just been in town nine months." — John C. O'Neal

Torrey Pines Road and Girard Avenue: "I've had several close calls crossing Torrey Pines Road where it intersects with Girard Avenue. There is 'No Right on Red' sign but cars very regularly don't see it and zoom right around that corner and I've seen several near misses. Suggestion: I've seen lit-up 'No Right on Red' signs that switch on with the red light and that intersection certainly needs one or at least a red arrow." — John Iversen

Torrey Pines Road and Hillside Drive: "Thank you for your article. I consider a very critical need exists to protect pedestrians attempting to cross Torrey Pines Road at the foot of Hillside Drive. There is a bus stop on Torrey Pines Road just east of Hillside Drive. People working in the homes north of Torrey Pines Road who ride the bus from downtown get off at that intersection and try to walk across the street. The average traffic speed is over 35 miles an hour. It is a four-lane road, without a protected center island, and it is a treacherous undertaking to cross." — Tom Fetter

Genter Street and La Jolla Boulevard: "I have noticed that at the zebra crossing to the west side of La Jolla Boulevard from Genter Street (at the 7200 block) more and more cars do not stop at all, even when there are pedestrians actually standing on the zebra crossing. As the La Jolla Elementary School is at the top of Genter Street (on Upper Girard) I am concerned that it is only a matter of time before there will be a pedestrian injured in the crossway." — Anne M. Ring

Fay Avenue (at Vons Market): "At the exit from Vons Market onto Fay Avenue (there is no pedestrian crossing) to the side where Bernini's Restaurant is located. Many, many shoppers can be seen walking across between cars coming at them in both directions. Again, I am concerned it is only a matter of time before a pedestrian is injured." — Anne M. Ring

Prospect Place at Cave: "I live on Prospect Place. At the crossing where Prospect meets Cave Street and Silverado, there is a crosswalk painted there. But cars are coming around a curve and the crosswalk is not completely visible from all directions. The cars are often speeding up to complete their turns before the next car comes around the curve and aren't looking for pedestrians. I feel at risk every time I cross there." — Elaine Galinson

Costebelle Drive at Esterel: "I am an 80-year-old woman who has to back out of my driveway into the intersection in order to leave my house. There is a stop sign at the intersection of Costebelle Drive and Esterel Drive, a 'T' intersection in front of my driveway. On so many occasions I have been almost crashed into by cars that just blow through the stop sign. Can you please ask the police to make the sign brighter or bigger or do something before I am severely injured due to this hazardous situation." — Arlene Barry

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••• Kudos to animal control for off-leash ticketing

Your recent article in the March 16 La Jolla Light about the problem of off-leash dogs and the impending enforcement operations by Animal Control put a smile on my face. Go to any park in San Diego (especially Kate Sessions Park) and you'll see off-leash dogs running wild. They run up to children, sometimes knocking them over; they put their snouts into your food; they urinate on the grass; and, of course, they defecate wherever they please.

This is what dogs naturally do. It's not, strictly speaking, a problem. The problem is with irresponsible and presumptuous dog owners. They know the law requires a leash at all times in parks such as Calumet Park, yet they defiantly ignore such postings. These dog owners also waltz into stores like CVS and Vons without even batting an eye.

The anthropomorphization of dogs is so pervasive that owners aren't even aware of its occurrence. You see dogs in strollers, you see dogs "shopping," you see doggy manicures and massages, and you see doggy hotels. It has gotten so bad that dog-owners purchase unauthorized vests from the Internet to pass their dogs off as service dogs. How outrageous.

Why do dog owners consider themselves exempt from laws that are meant to protect everyone? Shocking as it may sound, there are good, safety-related reasons for the City's leash laws. Dog owners should take responsibility by, first and foremost, leashing their dogs, and second, they should clean up after them every time. You know, Basic Ownership 101.

I wholeheartedly support the efforts of Animal Control to instill some respect for the law. Lord knows many dog owners need it. — Bill Smith

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••• It's time to curb your pets ... it's the law

Dog owners: Please stop bringing your Fido into the post office, the grocery store, the department store, the pizzeria, the bank and the hair salon, it's against the law. And when you do stroll around The Village with Fido, make sure he's on a leash. That's the law, too. And for many good reasons. — Adam Brightmore

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••• Municipal codes should apply to the City, too

I read the article in the March 10 issue about the fact the City of San Diego's Development Services Department has cited the Shorehouse Kitchen for the improvements it installed in the City's right-of-way outside the restaurant. I find this highly ironic for a couple of reasons.

First, this is an improvement to the City's property. Seeing as the City cannot adequately maintain our streets, sidewalks and curbs in La Jolla Shores and La Jolla overall, it is nice to see some part of the City infrastructure improved. The rest of it is in a steady decline as anyone who has walked La Jolla Shores Streets can attest to. Secondly, the Development Services Department rarely cites code violations for homes around our neighborhood in spite of violations. Walk around the corner from Shorehouse Kitchen to 8010 La Jolla Shores Drive. The weeds grow chest high; the trash cans sit for weeks on the curb; and an area of the sidewalk is unpassable, and has been for months.

Although we need municipal codes, perhaps the City should live up to its own strict codes for its own property before citing property owners for improving the City's property. What a complete double standard. — Ted Levis, CCIM, Emerald Properties

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••• Fees should be set up for using La Jolla High School track

My husband and I enjoy morning swims at the La Jolla High School Coggan Family Aquatic Complex. For this privilege, there is an established fee and membership program. I fail to understand why there is not a similar program for the new track and why the controversy continues on and on. — Gloria McCoy

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••• Fake news abounds about La Jolla's seals and sea lions

1. The Children's Pool is closed until May 15. No seals encounter people there, so the ranger is employed elsewhere. Lifeguards have no jurisdiction with seals, so must stay out of it. Angry citizens can best call the City's Park & Recreation office to complain.

2. Seals with pups are seen meeting people on a different unprotected beach. Some seals choose a beach with people on it, avoiding the artificial Children's Pool pen. I have seen mother seals and pups push people back to claim a spot. Sea lions learned the same fearlessness at The Cove.

3. The City did not close all the beaches seals go to, expecting them to retreat to their "sanctuary." The Coastal Commission was told La Jolla Children's Pool was the only beach in Southern California where seals go, and a unique valuable tourist attraction. Nope.

4. San Diego is done spending resources on beach animals in La Jolla. Tourist revenue does not cover expenses. The City did not disperse the seals a decade ago because it knew the Feds were not being honest about the difficulties. Park & Rec knows making them leave a good spot would be an expensive endless fool's errand.

5. It's too late. Best to just let people and seals go where they want. Fearless seals mixed with people for 20 years, by choice, while the colony grew. The City got "blackfished" into closing a public beach illegally. Now, it cannot admit sea lions are not also a blessing to be protected. It continues to defend beach closure as the best way to protect beach animals from their own bold decisions. — John Leek

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••• Kudos to La Jolla's school teams at recent Science Olympiads

La Jolla High School competed in the Regional Science Olympiad Competition Feb. 18 for the first time in many years and did extraordinarily well against schools from all over San Diego County. There were more than 70 teams competing. Placing in any of the 23 contests of the day is a huge accomplishment for any team and La Jolla impressed by placing in seven contests — five in the Top 10.

Muirlands Middle School, under Head Coach Celia Cravatt, also did extraordinarily well in the Science Olympiad on Feb. 4 for Middle Schools (Division B). Participants placed in many events and obtained 10th place overall with more than 110 teams participating.

La Jolla High results: Fifth place Anatomy & Physiology: Maddie Leone and Isha Raj-Silverman. Ninth place Ecology: Chloe Covington and Maddie Leone. 14th place Microbe Mission: Riley Saham and Aspen Pastore. Ninth place Hovercraft: Jacqueline Tuey and Josephine Passananti. 16th place Forensics: Alan Trapenard and Hudson Liu. Third place Hydrogeology: Hannah Hu. Sixth place Robots: Arm Joyce Passananti and Jacqueline Tuey

Muirlands results: Disease Detectives first place: Richard Chao and Eric Zhou. 15th place: Avi Raj-Silverman and Bohan Chen. Anatomy & Physiology ninth place: Austin Kingston and Max Goldberg. 13th place: Kevin Park and Eric Zhou. Meteorology 14th place: Ella Eslamian and Rekha Hargens. 16th place: Mark Rifkin and Andrew Park. Microbe Mission fifth place: Richard Chao and Kevin Park. Ecology second place: Kevin Korevaar and Nicole Nunes. Fourth place: Mark Rifkin and Andrew Park. Sixth place: Bohan Chen and Travis Wang. Write It Do It 19th place: Mark Rifkin and Andrew Park.

I was the Head Coach of the Muirlands team for the past three years and the person who brought the Science Olympiad spirit competition back to La Jolla schools. I am just incredibly proud of how competitive and talented our students are, and I wanted to share the good news with our community. — Laura Jackson

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••• Don't blame dog droppings for community's loss of track use

As one of the community representatives with whom La Jolla High School Principal Podhorsky met unsuccessfully, last week's article shows him staying on course with his stated intention of keeping the public off the track and ending, in his words, this "entitlement." The solution he's offered is unworkable except for an elite few willing to pay heavily to run at very restricted times, and so will go nowhere, as he expects. My sense is that he's just attempting to check a Community Relations box.

This "entitled" public is actually a diverse and responsible group with limited options, for whom the principal explicitly demonstrates no empathy. The track is that rare outdoor site in La Jolla offering fitness combined with safety — a cushioned, even surface removed from the dangers of vehicles, cyclists and exhaust fumes. Users included senior runners and walkers, younger people with physical impairments or just trying to get fit, athletes training during off hours, those without cars who can't travel miles to run safely, people who can't afford the cost or space of treadmills, and many others. That they all are denied access to such an important public health asset when not in use by the school is deplorable.

To advance his agenda, the principal places quite a spin on the public's abuse. He refers to violations of posted rules, although I'm one long-time track user who has yet to find them. We can all observe that the track lasted for many years and was still in decent shape just before it was resurfaced. While every reasonable step should be taken to set and enforce rules to ensure the track's longevity, let's also keep in mind the principal's motivations are to exaggerate the threats.

Speaking of which, the principal repeatedly mentions dog droppings. You can find droppings on the unlocked part of the school grounds, too, (and perhaps from the skunk I've seen there). If there is a solution for removing droppings on the main school grounds, can't that solution also suffice for the area around the track?

I travel on business and often run on high school tracks in various places. Somehow lots of schools engage with their communities rather than idle their public health assets (including, although sadly not enough, in San Diego). In the wake of your story, many in the community have been circulating good, practical ideas, which will be described separately. Meanwhile, given the magnitude of the school districts reported budget deficits, building a $12 million facility and then denying the public any reasonable access raises questions about whether that much was really needed to be spent. Is public support for various school activities and future tax levies going to erode as a result? I'm not seeing any passing grades here in Community Relations. It's time for the principal to stop the propaganda and excuses and finally engage with this community. — Nick Ecos

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••• Art museum will spare iconic tree

I received the following response regarding my concerns (and those of others) that the Museum of Contemporary Art at 900 Prospect St. might remove the large tree on the property as part of its expansion plans: "Thank you for e-mailing the Office of City Council member Barbara Bry. My name is Mauricio Medina and I am her council representative to La Jolla. I have spoken with the Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla and they have it in their renovation plans to keep the tree. The City of San Diego's Planning Commission is holding a public hearing on this issue where you can come in and voice your concerns. The meeting will be held 9 a.m., Thursday, March 23 at Council Chambers, 12th Floor, City Administration Building, 202 C St." — Chris Cott

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••• Pinniped stench is putrid, pervasive

I am here visiting my father and stepmother (Gene and Betty Sally) who live at White Sands. This morning (March 8) I took off to get some exercise and take in the breathtaking coast. The beginning of the walk could be described with the usual superlatives — stunning, serene, life affirming — and then I got to The Children's Pool, where I grew up swimming.

I've seen the transformation from beach into seal sanctuary, so I was not surprised. There were not a lot of seals on the beach, so the funk was not as strong as it could have been, and I jogged through the stink fog and made it to the park in front of 939. Again, a spot where we had a hundred picnics, watching the sun set. Only this time, I ran into a wall of putridity.

The fetid assault on my senses was a physical blow and even mouth-breathing could not ameliorate the rank and rancid cloud. I am just a visitor now, and don't have a dog in this fight, but those who live or work near there — I am sincerely sorry for you! I feel certain that in the thousands of miles of coastline available to these animals, someone could figure out another spot. La Jolla is indeed still breathtaking, but now in the very literal sense. — Tory Fitzgibbon

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••• City of San Diego cannot take action on pinnipeds

There are those who believe the City of San Diego should offer protection to local pinnipeds. The City is forbidden by Federal law from taking any action that could be construed as "seal or sea lion management." Marine Mammal Protection Act, Section 109. Federal Cooperation with States. Section 109(a) clearly states that no State may exercise management authority unless this authority has been formally transferred. Neither the State of California nor the City of San Diego has been granted this authority. Therefore, it is illegal to make any attempt to manage these species unless they represent a clear health and safety hazard or become a nuisance. In these instances, Section 109(h) explicitly authorizes the City to eliminate the problem.

The Federal Government is responsible for marine pinnipeds. The City of San Diego is responsible for the health and welfare of its citizens. By requesting the City to protect the California sea lions at the Cove and harbor seals at the Children's Pool, people are asking the City to violate Federal law. The City has favored pinnipeds over people for several decades with impunity. — David Valentine, Retired Marine Biologist

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••• Correction

Regarding the "News Nugget" on Enhance La Jolla receiving its 501(c)3 status in the March 9 issue, the assessments that will be collected will be used for (according to the Enhance La Jolla mission) "ongoing efforts to enhance the community, including landscape maintenance, street and sidewalk cleaning, litter and graffiti abatement, and additional trash collection." Enhance La Jolla also has the ability to use private donations to implement projects, which could include: new and upgraded trash cans; benches; enhanced signage; traffic calming projects, such as roundabouts; park improvements, in partnership with La Jolla Parks & Beaches Committee; La Jolla Recreation Center improvements, in partnership with La Jolla Park & Recreation, Inc.; tree canopies on main thoroughfares; and public art." Learn more at enhancelajolla.org

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••• What's on YOUR mind?

Letters published in La Jolla Light express views and comments from readers in regard to community issues. To share your thoughts in this public forum, e-mail them with your name and city of residence to editor@lajollalight.com or mail them to La Jolla Light Editor, 565 Pearl St., Suite 300, La Jolla, CA 92037. Letters reflect the writer's views and do not necessarily represent opinions of the newspaper staff or publisher.

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