La Jolla Shores board angered by trash pile-up and City response

Members of the La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) are incensed over the City’s approach to summer trash pickup in their tourist-laden beach community, following reports of overflowing refuse bins and garbage piling up on the street. The City is blaming the situation on local businesses for not providing private trash cans.

An e-mail chain between Shores board members and the City about the problem started in mid-July, and the discussion carried into the board’s Aug. 8 meeting on the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus.

“We recently had a lovely birthday dinner with another couple at Osteria Romantica in The Shores and walked home past trash can after trash can (that was overflowing),” LJSA chair Janie Emerson wrote the City. “Not only is this an eyesore, it is disgusting. It is an ongoing health hazard to everyone who walks by these messes.”

Other trustees chimed in on the e-mail, indicating they’ve resorted to picking up trash themselves, and that the situation had become “horrible.”

The City’s Environmental Services Department (ESD) conducted an investigation into why the trash cans were filling up so quickly earlier this year. It came at the request of business owners, so the City could implement a solution ahead of the busy summer season. However, the investigation determined the number of trash receptacles to be sufficient.

“I got so angry,” said LJSA trustee and Ocean Girl apparel shop owner Terry Kraszewski, who added that people come into her store at least 10 times a day asking to use her trash can.

Kraszewski asked the City to come back and reassess the problem, which it did in July, concluding that the cause of the problem is businesses along Avenida de la Playa not providing enough trash and recycling receptacles in their patio areas. This forces visitors to use City trash cans, which ESD representatives say are not designed for this volume of waste.

“Most restaurants on the south side of Avenida de la Playa provide patrons with convenient outdoor trash/recycling containers for the patio seating areas and there are no litter issues on the south side of the street,” wrote ESD program manager Renee Robertson.

However, LJSA trustee Mary Coakley Munk disputed the report, stating at the meeting: “We appreciate the City investigating this issue, but the conclusions that were drawn and the decisions that were made are absolutely not acceptable.”

Emerson added: “The assessment — if you buy something from a certain store, you are supposed to throw it away there — is ridiculous. And one of the places mentioned doesn’t have a restaurant, nor do they have a patio; they are only a take-out place. Same with the ice cream shops around here; you’re going to take the food and walk with it. Are you supposed to go back to the restaurant and throw it away? If the City, with all the tax dollars we contribute, cannot have enough trash cans and service them, it is in huge trouble.”

Emerson further observed that when people visit The Shores, if they cannot fit their trash in a receptacle, they generally put it on top of, or around, the trash can, “which tells you if there were enough receptacles, there wouldn’t be this problem.”

However, the City is proposing an alternative solution.

“The City will be relocating two to three litter containers away from the front of (certain) businesses to help reduce the litter associated with these containers being located too closely to the patio. The public street litter containers will be relocated further down the beach corridor,” Robertson said.

Acknowledging that this approach may seem “counter-intuitive,” Mauricio Medina, District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry’s field representative, noted that in 2017, the City of San Diego added two more trash cans, “but that has not eliminated the issue,” he said by e-mail. “Continuing to add more City street litter containers in front of these businesses would likely not resolve the issue.”

Medina added: “ESD will continue to monitor the area and also monitor if the food service businesses are providing containers in their outdoor patio areas. The ESD will continue to make adjustments until the situation is improved.”

He also agreed to circle back to see if ESD members would be willing to present directly to the LJSA board, or reconsider its position.

In other Shores news:

Holiday attendance drops: The number of people who visited Kellogg Park on Independence Day was down by almost half from 2017 numbers, and LJSA trustees and lifeguard Marine Safety Lt. Rich Stropky sense cancellation of the fireworks show was the reason.

Stropky reported last year 40,000 people were at the park and lifeguards carried out 500 preventative acts, 30 medical aids and two rescues. This year, it was 25,000 people and 300 preventative acts, 10 medical aids and 18 rescues.

“The weather was the same, there is no other explanation besides the fireworks,” he opined.

Road construction on the way: As part of the ongoing updates available through the Shift San Diego program, SANDAG representative Sarah Czarnecki presented a list of upcoming construction projects associated with the Mid Coast Trolley line.

She reported that girders (large cement pieces on which the weight of the trolley rests) are going in, piece by piece, along the route starting Aug. 17. “To complete that work along Genesee Avenue, crews are tentatively scheduling six days of 24 hours of full closures at six intersections from Aug. 17 to Oct. 8, starting at Regents Road and moving south.”

All construction is subject to change, Czarnecki added, but questions about the progress can be directed to shiftsandiego.com

The website provides project notices; alternative transportation options to single-occupancy vehicles; places to sign up for text alerts; a real-time Twitter feed with construction announcements; upcoming projects and planned closures. There is also an interactive map and “trip planner” through which a commuter could input their start and end points, and a route with minimal traffic impacts would be suggested.

Park partnership, part two: Assisting the La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group, La Jollan Diane Kane asked LJSA to join the effort to provide a unified voice on the Mayor’s Parks Master Plan — a 50-year plan to guide how parks will be managed. She presented a two-page list of ideas that include reconfiguring parking and looking at vacant land that could be repurposed into unconventional park space.

“We’re considering two things: 1) Is there anything on the list we came up with that is creating major heartburn and has no chance of support? and 2) Is there anything we’ve missed that we would want to add? I think La Jolla Shores was underrepresented in this discussion,” she said.

The board voted to participate and have two representatives liaise between LJSA and the Parks & Beaches working group. Prior to the LJSA meeting, La Jolla Parks & Recreation, Inc. similarly reviewed the list and will weigh-in at a future meeting.

— La Jolla Shores Association next meets, Wednesday, Sept. 12 at Martin Johnson House on the SIO campus, 8840 Biological Grade: 6 p.m. reception, 6:30 p.m. meeting. lajollashoresassociation.org

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