Moss Lane closure proposal canceled

Trustees on the La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJP&B) advisory board had an eclectic mix of items for discussion at their June 26 meeting. Among the issues were the proposed Moss Lane closure; restoring public access to the La Jolla High School track; yet another delay to the Children’s Pool Walk beautification project; the long-discussed Black’s Overlook re-vegetation project and more. The board meets 4 p.m. fourth Mondays at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

Lane closure withdrawn

Although it was slated for full LJP&B discussion, talks of the proposed closure of Moss Lane in Bird Rock were cut short by the announcement that the application had been withdrawn by the applicant. One of the nearby property owners sought to have Moss Lane (a grassy alley that runs from Abalone Place through Dolphin Place to a public ocean lookout) vacated from City ownership so a private fence could be erected in the middle. The area is reportedly subject to vandalism.

The item was discussed at the May 9 La Jolla Development Permit Review committee (DPR) meeting, where it was met with opposition from beach-access advocates, before it was raised at LJP&B in June. DPR did not take action on the topic. When broached at the LJP&B meeting, trustee Debbie Beacham said the application to vacate the street had been rescinded, and City spokesperson Anthony Santacroce later confirmed the withdrawal of the request.

Board supports track access

In making the rounds to La Jolla’s community planning groups, La Jolla High School track-user Kay Plantes spoke, seeking support for re-opening the track and field to the public. Plantes has already garnered support by way of a letter from the La Jolla Park & Rec board. After submitting a similar letter last month for LJP&B board to review, she read her letter aloud at the June meeting.

The letter asks that the track and field be kept open to the public when not in use by the school or by organizations that reserve the facilities formally. “Access to the track is needed for public health and safety, it is the only safe alternative for seniors or those of all ages that need an even running surface away from traffic. The track has always been available to the public … and reasonable access should be restored,” Plantes read.

She said residents will act as guardians of the facility and ensure the rules are followed. “We support a collaborative solution that balances the need of the community and the facility,” she concluded.

La Jolla High School principal Charles Podhorsky closed the facilities in fall 2016 (following more than a year of construction to upgrade the athletic complex), citing misuse of the track, including people bringing dogs and bikes, and leaving waste and trash on the field. He previously told La Jolla Light with district-wide budget cuts, the school does not have the resources to have a facilities manager on-site to make sure the track is being used properly, nor did he want to task teachers with checking the field for waste before school opens each morning.

Since then, a group of avid users have been meeting with Podhorsky, circulating petitions and gathering signatures on the letter of support. After hearing her plea, LJP&B voted to add their organization’s name to the list of those in favor of re-opening the field and track to the public.

Children’s Pool Walk delayed to 2018

The Children’s Pool Walk beautification project has been postponed yet again, and will not begin until summer 2018. Originally designed to improve and reconfigure the sidewalk area above the Children’s Pool with a new seating area and other aesthetic upgrades, the project has been scaled down. It now largely consists of removing the natal plum plants to open up views and pedestrian flow, and laying down either concrete or decomposed granite and/or installing a bike rack.

The work is expected to take six months and needed to be started by June 1 to avoid overlapping with the harbor seal pupping season construction moratorium (Dec. 15 to May 15 annually). However, the City recently determined the wall that lines Coast Boulevard may qualify as “historic,” which would affect any improvements done there, and so City staff needed to investigate further before any work could begin.

Because the City was unable to start the project by June 1, City engineers announced they would postpone the task by another year.

Black’s Beach lookout

After months of debate about a possible bench at the tiny Black’s Overlook near Scripps Institution of Oceanography (as part of a re-vegetation project), LJP&B voted to end the discussion and remove the concept of a bench from the beautification plans. The overlook, which historically surfers used to view wave conditions, was at one time an accessway down to Black’s Beach. The bluffside has since eroded and a fence was installed.

Plans to re-vegetate the overlook were introduced earlier this year, and a bench was considered possible, but project manager Patrick Ahern noted that some neighbors did not want a bench there. However, LJP&B members such as Melinda Merryweather, pleaded for a sitting area. When re-vegetation began earlier this year, a bench was not included. A LJP&B working group formed to explore options, and determined a bench would have to be privately funded and likely include a donor plaque, which effectively “killed” the idea.

A motion to remove the bench from the previously approved plans passed.

Burgers and Brews

After La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation advisory group lent its support to the planned Burgers and Brews fundraiser (designed to kick-off the Breeders’ Cup horse-racing event in Del Mar, Nov. 3-4, and bring race-goers to La Jolla), LJP&B followed suit. The event is planned for noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28 at Scripps Park.

Representing the event, La Jolla Village Merchants Association president James Niebling said, “What the Olympics is to sports, the Breeders’ Cup is to horse racing. (Organizers) move locations every year, but they sometimes return (after a few years) to a previous location. We want to put our best foot forward.”

Although acting LJP&B chair Bill Robbins said different organizations are “hitting the park hard” with several events this summer, he said he was “willing to give it a try.”

A motion to support the event passed unanimously.

— LJP&B conventionally does not meet in either July or August, depending on the agenda, and has not announced whether its July meeting will be postponed. lajollaparksandbeaches.org

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