La Jolla News Nuggets: New shuttlebus committee urged at transportation board; Library proposes eliminating overdue fees; and more local news

New shuttlebus committee urged at T&T

Former La Jolla Coastal Access Parking Fund chair Dan Allen spoke before the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation (T&T) board Feb. 21, suggesting the group set up a transit subcommittee — or, he said, “ask the Community Planning Association because it’s their duty to set up a committee on transit” — to discuss with the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) possible new uses for funds languishing in a City account managed by the Economic Development Department (EDD).

About half of the $388,000 — collected in the 1970s and ’80s from office-space developers — is earmarked for a free or low-cost shuttle around The Village. But the Coastal Access and Parking Board considers shuttle proposals so far “unsustainable.”

“(The California Coastal Commission) wouldn’t support any alternatives that make it easier for people to park,” Allen told T&T at its Feb. 21 meeting at La Jolla Rec Center. (Eventually, the meeting was truncated for lack of a quorum.)

According to Allen, the question of whether La Jolla needs a separate shuttle, or whether the No. 30 bus is something that can be tweaked into a shuttle, should be addressed by a new committee now, before the Mid-Coast Trolley Line opens in four years.

“Don’t trust that La Jolla’s best interests are being taken care of by the folks downtown,” Allen said.

Viking signs Letter of Intent

La Jolla High School senior Max Ippolito, having been recruited a year ago by Lafayette College, participated in the February National Signing Day at Petco Park. The double-sport athlete plays year-round soccer and runs cross-country for La Jolla High School.

La Jolla High athletic director Paula Conway said: “I regret that we missed one of our athletes at the February Signing Day. ... (Max) has played an elite level of soccer and been a state qualifying cross country runner for the Vikings.”

Salk researchers make key spinal cord discovery

Neural regulation by the different regions of the spinal cord that connect to the arms and legs is now better understood thanks to a Salk Institute study in mice. Published in the journal Neuron on Feb. 21, it revealed contrasts in the neurons that underlie different types of motor control.

“We hope to do a more detailed analysis to connect different neurons to their functions,” said Marito Hayashi, postdoctoral research associate and first author. “If their findings also hold true in people, this work could one day lead to tailored treatments for repairing spinal cord injuries, possibly with the use of stem cells.”

La Jolla Sports Club owners buy sandiego.com

Before visitors learn that sandiego.org is the main tourism website for San Diego, many try the more intuitive sandiego.com. Brett and Kera Murphy, co-owners of La Jolla Sports Club, have purchased that domain hoping to give San Diego tourists much less of a reason to click anywhere else.

“We already have a big portion of the hotel booking revenue and the restaurants are going to be a nice key for us, so we’re on the way,” said Brett Murphy.

Murphy, who currently serves as treasurer of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association, said he bought sandiego.com from a friend of his who owned many other URLs and who told him, “I think you would do a great job with it.” He said the San Diego Tourism Authority, which owns sandiego.org, does not show La Jolla love commensurate with its importance as a draw for San Diego tourism.

“Their pitch about La Jolla is that it’s the Rodeo Drive of San Diego,” Murphy said. “That’s not what we’re about. We’re about to turn into a major cultural center with The Conrad and the Museum of Contemporary Art expansion. So I’m going to tell the real La Jolla story.”

Murphy said he sees the purchase as “an opportunity to shift our branding of The Village.”

Human stem cells to repair monkey spinal cords at UCSD

Led by researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine, a team of neuroscientists and surgeons has successfully grafted human neural progenitor cells into rhesus monkeys with spinal cord injuries. The grafts not only survived, but grew hundreds of thousands of human axons and synapses, resulting in improved forelimb function in the monkeys.

The findings — published online in the February 26 issue of Nature Medicine — represent a significant step toward a potential remedy for paralyzing spinal cord injuries in people.

“For more than three decades, spinal cord injury research has slowly moved toward the elusive goal of abundant, long-distance regeneration of injured axons, which is fundamental to any real restoration of physical function,” said Mark Tuszynski, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neuroscience and director of the UCSD Translational Neuroscience Institute. “While there was real progress in research using small animal models, there were also enormous uncertainties that we felt could only be addressed by progressing to models more like humans before we conduct trials with people.”

Library proposes eliminating overdue fees

Overdue library fines could be a thing of the past if the City Council approves a proposal that would require patrons only to return borrowed items within a reasonable time or pay for their actual replacement costs.

“Overdue fines are creating unnecessary barriers to many of the people we’re trying to serve,” said Misty Jones, San Diego public library director. “Too often, I have heard librarians tell me stories about children who want to check out books to take home, but whose parents are unable to pay overdue fines to make this possible.”

Analysis by ZIP code reveals that the highest concentration of the public with overdue fines lives in the City’s lowest socioeconomic communities.

The proposal — which has the support of mayor Kevin Faulconer — goes before City Council in April as part of the City’s annual review of user fees.

English-as-a-Second-Language teachers sought

If you can speak English, you can make a difference in someone’s life. Laubach Literacy Council of San Diego County, Inc. is a volunteer-operated non-profit organization seeking tutors for adult learners. No teaching experience is necessary.

La Jollans can volunteer at the La Jolla English Language Center at La Jolla Presbyterian Church, 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, 7715 Draper Ave. To register, visit laubachsandiego.org by March 16. The registration form is under the “Volunteer to Teach English” tab.

Gillispie School blood drive a success

La Jolla’s Gillispie School in La Jolla collected 43 pints of blood and more than $2,900 in donations for the San Diego Blood Bank from a bake sale on Feb. 1.

The school’s annual blood drive — organized this year by third-grade students — began in 2010 after a former fourth-grader suffered a relapse of cancer she battled as a kindergartener. Her fifth-grade brother, a fellow Gillispie student, saved her life with his bone marrow. In the last nine years, the school has collected more than 350 pints of blood and more than $17,000 for the blood bank.

Planning candidate drops out, write-in announced

La Jollan David Bourne has withdrawn his candidacy in the upcoming La Jolla Community Planning Association election, slated for March 1. There are now seven candidates for seven seats. However, longtime La Jolla Shores Planned District Advisory Board member Suzanne Weissman has announced her intent to run as a write-in candidate.

“I’m very interested in having the community involved in the development processes in La Jolla,” she told the Light. “I support fair and open community review of all projects. I believe there can be a balance modernization and preservation of the residential character if La Jolla.”

The election is 3-7 p.m. Thursday, March 1 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. Those who would like to vote must be a current member (having attended and signed in at one meeting in the last year) and bring a photo ID. Up for election are six seats starting new three-year terms and one vacancy for a term ending in 2020. Learn more at lajollacpa.org

Congregational Church presents Lenten discussions

In recognition of Lent as a period of personal reflection and spiritual transformation, Pastor Tim Seery and the Congregational Church of La Jolla are hosting a series building on the TED global community’s belief in the power of ideas to change attitudes and lives, titled “4 Weeks, 4 Ideas to Change the World, 4 Ways God is Still Speaking.”

Each 3-4 p.m. Saturday session will include a 18-20 minute video, followed by a 30-minute discussion facilitated by Seery. Remaining are: March 3 “The Power of Vulnerabilit,” with Dr. Brene Brown; March 10 “My Stroke of Insight,” by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor; and March 24 “Compassion and Kinship,” by Fr. Gregory Boyle. The church is at 1216 Cave St.

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