Our Readers Write: La Jollans share their views on traffic noise/speeding, UCSD expansion plans, skate park idea for Rec Center, off-leash dogs, McMansions and more hot topics

Our Readers Write / Opinion / Letters to the Editor:

Letters to the Editor from the May 18, 2017 issue of La Jolla Light as La Jollans speak out on local issues:

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••• Noise, speeding out-of-control on La Jolla Parkway

For almost two decades, residents of the Hidden Valley neighborhood adjacent to La Jolla Parkway have been suffering from the increasing noise and heavy traffic along that corridor. In fact, the noise has become so unacceptably excessive that it can be considered a "safety" issue.

La Jolla Parkway is one of the busiest streets in San Diego, even during off-seasons. More than 50,000 cars per day travel that Parkway climbing to speeds between 40-60 mph and even higher (speed limit is 45 mph). Motorcyclists and high-powered sport vehicles have enjoyed fast acceleration going eastbound uphill for the thrill of the power and it frequently occurs in groups, both day and night.

Also, there appears to be little or no speed-limit enforcement on the Parkway despite several complaints filed by the residents in that regard to local police. Noise levels on the Parkway consistently exceed federal, state and local guidelines-calling for mitigation. In 2004, UC San Diego conducted a study regarding the traffic and noise levels on that corridor. In 2014, a petition was filed and submitted to the City by a large number of residents reiterating the need for a noise mitigating sound wall.

In January 2015, the La Jolla Shores Association board voted to approve and add the proposed extension of the sound wall to the list of capital improvement projects for 2016. Residents are still hoping this will become a reality. More attention from police department is sorely needed to enforce speed and noise regulations on that heavily traveled corridor for the safety of the motorists, residents and the community. — Rayan Hourani M.D.

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••• Student Center does not belong in a neighborhood

Our family has enjoyed residing in what was formerly called La Jolla Highlands for 49 years, and the opinions expressed in this letter are mine. Regarding the story in the May 4 issue, "Hillel project approved at San Diego Planning Commission," please, please tell me the statements attributed to planning commissioners Hofman and Austin are misquotes. Hofman's statement in support of the proposed student center in a residential neighborhood, reads in part, "It's a good transition from UC San Diego to a residential zone." If the quote is accurate, it is the most egregious statement I have read during the years of opposition to the Student Center project. Austin adds, "It's not in the middle of a residential neighborhood, it's on the edge ... I believe it creates a buffer." I ask a buffer for what? To keep UC San Diego from further "transition" (Hofman's word) into the neighborhood? I suggest a more accurate word than "buffer" is "invitation," and offer two examples.

1) Perhaps as far back as 10 years ago, a generous donor provided Hillel the use of a private residential home on Cliffridge Ave. It was converted to administrative and counseling offices in direct violation of use code in the neighborhood and continues to this day.

2) A few years ago, a private residence across the street from the site proposed for the Student Center and immediately adjacent to other private residences occupied by single families, was rented to members of one of UCSD's athletic teams. Subsequently, the home was purchased by a private party for use by their children during years at UCSD. The home was renovated, including conversion of a garage into a bedroom, and rented to several UCSD students. "Invitation" not "buffer" is a much more appropriate prospect for the neighborhood if this Student Center Project is approved.

A short street, La Jolla Scenic Drive North, is adjacent the proposed Student Center with single-family residences lining the street on the opposite side, some 50 or so feet away from the proposed Center's outside wall. If members of the Planning Commission visited the street, and found a place to park and offered to speak with our neighbors there, I believe they would find residents will not be convinced that the proposed Student Center is not in their neighborhood. The fact is, the Student Center would be in a single-family residential zone.

Because the Planning Commission apparently supports UCSD's transition into a residential neighborhood, I suggest the neighborhood recognize the invitation extends presently to one street, but there is no end in sight. — Oliver W. Jones, M.D.; Professor of Medicine, Emeritus

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••• A skate park will wreck the Rec Center

Bravo to Alicia Quackenbush for her response to the proposal of a skate park at our Rec Center! She addressed the noise issue (which is huge) but with all due respect, there is so much more wrong with the idea. Like it or not, skateboarders have a history of disregard for rules and regulations. Ask any commercial/residential owner if they have anything positive to say about skateboarders on-site and the consensus will be, "No!"

Now, those behind a skate park might use this to justify having a "place where they can go," but do you want teens and young adults next to infants and toddlers on a swing set? Do you really think they will adhere to any of the rules the Rec Center plans to implement? And, should we ask the staff to police them? Here again, the noise can be deafening!

The Rec Center location, across from the La Jolla Presbyterian Church preschool and its history of being a safe environment for all the children in La Jolla, precludes it from being the "Dude, let's meet up at Rec!" skateboarders' hangout! — Sharman Dye

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••• Off-leash dogs more hazardous to cyclists than motorists

Keeping loose dogs leashed on the Fay Avenue Bike Path that follows the old electric railway right-of-would be a step in the right direction toward a safe alternative for bicyclists to riding on busy La Jolla Boulevard. I avoid the Bike Path and use La Jolla Boulevard as it is safer than mixing it up with off-leash dogs!

My father and I both grew up in La Jolla. The "bridle path" was a part of my childhood and I walked it weekly from Muirlands to visit my grandparents in Bird Rock. Not once did I ever see a loose dog. In the last 10-15 years I've been knocked off my bike twice, bitten once, and menaced on several occasions by loose dogs on the path. I have been cursed and threatened by dog owners for riding a bicycle on the bike path that has become a de-facto off-leash dog park in violation of signage that states all dogs must be leashed.

On one occasion, a loose small ankle-biter dog tried to herd me by running in front of my wheel. I braked hard, but wasn't able to miss the dog, which ran off yelping. I injured my left arm and elbow in the fall. My glasses broke and cut my forehead above my left eye. The woman who owned the dog directed a stream of expletives at me that would have made a sailor blush as blood ran into my eye and down my face.

I had to loosen my front brake in order to ride home. My local bike shop tried to true my front wheel, but I ended up buying a new wheel set for $600.

San Diego Police Department and the County Animal Control Department need to aggressively cite scofflaw dog owners here to make the bike path safe for bicyclists again. — Ray H. Ramage

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••• Any witnesses to girl's bike accident?

Since we know the date, time and place where the 11-year-old cyclist was hit by the hit-and-run driver (as reported on the front page last week), I wonder if the La Jolla Light (or a reader) could do some investigation about this? Are there any surveillance videos from nearby businesses that could have caught images of the car? I have been riding bikes in and around La Jolla for 15 years and have seen just about everything. But I haven't seen someone knock a girl off of her bike and then drive away leaving her on the ground. This person needs to be caught! — John Tellew

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••• Lights, clear paths would help biking in town

La Jolla's picturesque topography provides many choices for enthusiastic cyclists. One can cruise near the beach and listen to the soothing sounds of the ocean waves, immerse oneself in the intimate greenery of Fay Avenue Bike Path or step it up the hill to get in shape and enjoy the view — sounds like Bikers Paradise! Unfortunately, I have to agree with the cyclists featured in the May 11 cover story who point out that biking through some streets of our dear Village is often far from ideal — especially during peak traffic hours.

Since moving to San Diego in 1986, my bike is my one and only transportation vehicle; rain or shine, I hop-on, hop-off every day. Though riding on the sidewalk feels safer, it presents a hazard and is unwelcome by pedestrians. Something has to change! Adding more bright street lights could be a start. "La Jolla by Night Rides," could add to tourism and cash to City coffers. Providing better visibility for all — bikers, runners or dog walkers — is paramount, we need to preserve energy, but not at the exchange of citizens' safety.

Apart from the cracks, potholes, mixed-use traffic lanes and blind corners (such as where Neptune Place meets Bonair Street) I've noticed a new danger, the patches of sand covering portions of the scenic walkway near Scripps Park gazebos. An accident could happen from bicycle wheels skidding in situations where using the brakes abruptly arises — like when a child, bird or squirrel runs across.

Last, but not least, here's a lesson I learned over the years: Trust in God, but always lock your bike! — Jaruska Solyova

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••• 'Bigger' homes aren't necessarily an eyesore

The article "paradigm shift regarding new construction" in the May 4 La Jolla Light was a very well written and had nice coverage of all facets of the conversation. However, we had friends over for dinner and all four of us independently (myself, wife, and the other couple) took objection to the photo on the front page that accompanied the article. This photo is of a wooden house with lush foliage (two-story home) "dwarfing" as the caption says the home next door. This photo is extremely unfortunate. We know these two homes though we don't know either owner well.

The larger house is probably around 2500-square-feet and by no means a mansion. It always has a delightful Golden Retriever out front and the owners always say hi to us when we walk by. I've often thought to myself (as have my dinner guests) that the home is the exact type of home we wish we could live in and had more of in our neighborhood. It is so cozy appearing from the outside and looks just like a vintage cabin.

There are so many extravagant homes that are large mansions built on small lots to better illustrate the example of your article. The message is that if you live in the 92037 — even with a pleasing architectural style that is a delight to the neighborhood visually and does not in any way stand out from the beach cottage vibe of the street — you should not have a 2,000-2,750 square-foot house on your property, since every single four-bedroom home is in this square footage range.

And we, for example, need a bedroom for guests/office due to homework issues and the fact that our elderly parents like to visit their grandchildren and I don't want to have them stay in a hotel when they visit. Is the point of this article that if you live in the 92037, you should either: a) not have more than one child; b) mandate that your children share a bedroom; c) mandate that your guests/parents stay in a hotel when visiting for long periods? — Krishna Ratnam

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••• Open letter to UCSD Planning Department

I am a supporter of UC San Diego and have been for many years, however at this time, my support for this institution has significantly eroded. The information provided at the recent meeting regarding the proposed North Torrey Pines Living & Learning Neighborhood is distressing. The university's new enrollment goal and where to house this multitude of new students is being considered with utter disregard and disrespect for the community of La Jolla, especially those most impacted in the area of Black Horse Farms, Black Horse and anyone who daily drives the Torrey Pines corridor. The project is objectionable in many ways. Please note:

1. As proposed, this mixed-use development has a footprint better suited for an industrial park. There are too many buildings, too tall, too dense, to hard edge in design, and too much concrete. It is too close to the road. There is nothing collegiate about it.

2. This "New Neighborhood" will significantly increase traffic in both directions of Torrey Pines Road adding to an already problematic situation. More cars, more air pollution, more noise. How does the university propose to reduce green house emission by increasing cars and traffic?

3. Regarding the underground parking structure, where will it be vented? How will this affect our air quality? Due to venting operations, will the neighboring residents be subjected to constant mechanical noise?

4. The university was disingenuous with the projected construction time line. A development of this size will NOT be completed in two years. Everyone knows this, why alter the facts?

As evidenced by the presentation, the University avoided any discussion of the construction process and the effect on the community with regard to dirt, dust, noise, pollution, traffic problems that will occur. Not to mention the further erosion of Torrey Pines Road (already falling apart) as daily runs are made from the Gliderport staging area to campus.

5. Going forward, neighbors of UCSD on Torrey Pines Road will have a massive factory looking development looming over them separated only by the road and a small strand of trees. There will be 2,000 new students, additional teaching staff, support staff, deliveries, more cars, more traffic, more noise.

Shall we in La Jolla just put our quality of life on hold while the University continues never-ending expansion? — Joy Urich

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••• What's on YOUR mind?

Letters published in La Jolla Light express views 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 writers' opinions and not necessarily those of the newspaper staff or publisher.

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