A Plan for La Jolla Parkway Problems? City now says staff will study sound wall extension

In an about-face decision by the City, which has maintained no staff nor resources were available to study the feasibility of extending the sound wall along La Jolla Parkway, it was reported at the Nov. 2 La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting that may not be the case.

District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry’s representative Mauricio Medina told the board he partnered with the Mayor’s office to request that the viability of extending the sound wall be investigated. City staff is now working across various departments to look into the proposal and Medina added: “Our office will put the time and man hours into this and update the board as needed.”

Citing noise, safety and aesthetics, La Jolla residents and sound wall extension supporters Rayan Hourani and Mark Pretorius presented the concept, showed a video of the frequency of cars that pass the unguarded houses, and provided research to support the request.

The existing sound wall is 300 feet long and reportedly only protects two houses from noise. Immediately next to the wall, the vegetation along the Parkway, which provides some sound blockage, is dying.

“We are asking this association to ask the City to do a feasibility study to look at the noise, safety, traffic and quality-of-life issues with the possibility of extending this barrier where there is currently dead vegetation,” Pretorius said.

Addressing some opposition, Hourani added that chief concerns include loss of views and the possibility of sound bouncing to the other side of the street.

“This is the entrance to La Jolla, it is the first aesthetic impression,” he said. “People think a wall is going to be worse than dying vegetation, I think this is the worse it could ever be. La Jolla deserves better. Some people think the sound is going to bounce. There are sound walls everywhere that don’t bounce the sound, they absorb it.”

However, LJCPA trustee John Shannon shared an anecdote about a sound-wall creating new noise in a friend’s yard in the Bay Area, and said an unintended consequence may be an impact to new people.

Above all, Hourani said, the wall would improve safety, and he showed an image of a car that had driven off the road and onto the residential street running parallel to it. “The safety issue is more important than anything else,” he said. “This is a residential street, I have children who love to play outside. I don’t want some driver to sway the wrong way and hit someone.”

However, trustees Sheila Palmer and Dan Courtney each opined the “real problem” is the speedy drivers, and if police issued tickets or if signage was adjusted or speed limit signs added, “50 percent of the problem” would be solved. Courtney said a wall would give the appearance that drivers are on a freeway.

The project has been under discussion in La Jolla for the better part of two years.

In 2015, it gained support from the La Jolla Shores Association (which asked the City to add the sound wall to its list of capital improvement projects) and the La Jolla Town Council, but at La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation advisory group, too many questions were raised for the board to vote. Because Traffic & Transportation couldn’t vote on it, the item never came before LJCPA as an action item. The boards that voted support do not have their findings ratified at LJCPA.

Willing to the support the proposal and move it forward to the City, LJCPA voted to — with applause from the audience — have the City investigate solutions to improve safety, mitigate sound and return to the committee with a plan.

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