Task force tackles Marine Street drugs, drinking, trash

Task force's report and recommendations forwarded to city officials

In response to a reported rash of crime, parties, violent assaults, public drinking and drug use at Marine Street Beach, the La Jolla Town Council (LJTC) formed a task force to address the issue, in concert with the Barber Tract Neighborhood Association (BTNA) — an organization of residents in the community directly adjacent Marine Street Beach.

During its first meeting, the task force, which includes BTNA members Cynthia and Jeff Chasan and Hollis McMillan, and LJTC trustees Ann Kerr, Joseph Pitrofsky and Peter Wulff, submitted a list of recommendations to the city to address the problem (read more on the issue at bit.ly/barbertractbummer).

Task recommendations include:

1. Adding a lifeguard chair staffed with a level II lifeguard at the Sea Lane entrance to the beach (in addition to the existing chair and lifeguard at the foot of Marine Street).

2. Adding routine beach team patrols of Barber Tract beaches — especially in the south Sea Lane area and at 202 Coast Blvd., where police have reported drug deals occurring inside a large, open drainpipe.

3. Replacing all removable-lidded trashcans with “seagull-proof” receptacles

4. Adding seagull-proof trashcans during summer and school break periods, and at other times when there are large numbers of people on the beach.

5. Increasing community policing of the Barber Tract area to reduce excessive speed and public consumption of alcohol.

Kerr said the problems exist because the beach adjacent the Barber Tract is understaffed by lifeguards, particularly those with an ability to write citations, and largely obscured from the view of police (whereas she said police driving by WindanSea Beach to the south have largely unobstructed views of the beach).

LJTC trustees voted unanimously to support the recommendations of the task force and submission of its report to the mayor, police, lifeguards and other relevant city offices.

Kerr said though WindanSea — like every beach — has its problems, the beaches adjacent the Barber Tract have more immediate problems. “We discovered, thanks to the police, that there is a drainpipe at 202 Coast Blvd. which is not sealed off with any kind of wire mesh. It has become the ‘drug dealer’s office’ — what we call it in the report,” Kerr said. “People are going down (to the beach) where they can’t be seen, erecting canopies and tents, smoking pot and drinking … out of sight of any enforcement or surveillance,” she said.

On June 12, the task force met with the office of City Council President Sherri Lightner, of which Kerr later told La Jolla Light, “It was an excellent opportunity to educate (the city),” adding that she has invited lifeguards, beach patrol and police to attend the July 9 LJTC meeting and update the group on its progress toward addressing the issues.

In a recent e-mail to Kerr from Justin Garver, a field representative with Lightner’s office, Garver said the concerns of the task force are “actively being evaluated and responded to by our office, as well as city staff.”

Garver said an additional park ranger, which Lightner added to La Jolla as part of last year’s fiscal year budget, began in December and has been making “routine foot patrols in the area since he came into this new position.

“Generally,” Garver said, “the ranger will be acting in an observe-and-report role … developing relationships with lifeguard and police personnel in order to create better avenues of communication for the summer.”

One of two new park ranger positions added for the fiscal year beginning July 1 will also benefit La Jolla. One of the new rangers will provide coverage in shoreline parks from Sunset Cliffs to Tourmaline Surf Park, while the second will be a senior park ranger tasked with managing the city's Shoreline Park Ranger Program, and will also provide supplemental coverage for northern (La Jolla) and southern rangers.

Garver said he has reached out to lifeguards at WindanSea Beach, which has a higher level of staffing, to request they also help monitor Marine Street Beach.

“It is important to note that WindanSea and Marine Street lifeguard personnel work as cover for one another,” he said. “I’ve been working closely with Lifeguard Lt. Rich Stropky and have requested that the full-time lifeguards stationed at WindanSea make routine foot patrols up to Marine Street to assist with enforcement of city rules and regulations. Lifeguards are willing to make this effort and will be working with their staff to implement it during the summer.”

In addition, a letter was submitted by the La Jolla Parks and Beaches city-advisory group to City of San Diego Park and Recreation Director Herman Parker requesting additional concrete, seagull-proof trashcans be added at Marine Street Beach. Park and Recreation was able to locate one additional such trashcan that has since been placed at Marine Street.

To read the task force’s report, visit barbertract.com/news.html or lajollatowncouncil.org

In other Town Council news

Push to kill the PDO: LJTC president Steve Haskins announced a move afoot to abolish La Jolla’s outdated Planned District Ordinance (PDO) document, or blueprint for design, rather than undergoing the lengthy and costly process of revising it.

The issue has been a hot topic during the past year due to deviations from the PDO’s ground-floor retail requirement that the city granted for several Village development projects.

The issue will be introduced during public comment periods of the next La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting, 6 p.m. July 2 and during the 5 p.m. July 9 LJTC meeting — both at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

Harry’s to be feted: Girard Avenue institution Harry’s Coffee Shop, which opened in 1960, will be honored with a small business leader award and proclamation from the office of state Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (78th District) during a private ceremony on June 26. Other small businesses being honored include Twiggs Bakery in University Heights and the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach.

New fire engine will serve La Jolla: San Diego Fire Battalion Chief Craig Newell said the city’s 2016 fiscal year budget includes a “fast-response squad,” or two-person fire engine serving UTC central that will be staffed with a captain, firefighter and paramedic, seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. “Although it will help with response times to the UTC central area, it will also respond to the Village and La Jolla Shores,” Newell said. “It’s a small, quick and agile piece of equipment that we can use to go up the small, winding roads of Mt. Soledad if we have a wildfire or structure fire up there.”

In addition, Newell said the city has started the land acquisition and planning process for new fire stations in the UTC area off Nobel Drive and on the UCSD campus, which will also serve La Jolla, as needed. These should be complete and operational in three to four years, he said.

Trustee vacancies: Haskins said the LJTC executive committee is deciding how to fill two LJTC trustee vacancies left by the departures of Estela Aguilar and Charles Schevker.

Voice of the Internet: Former LJTC trustee Rich Ticho noted that LJTC treasurer and professional announcer, Ron Jones (aka “the Voice of La Jolla”), has joined his online, charity broadcast network, Voice of Peace Network (voiceofpeace.com). Jones’ broadcasts can be heard on the website 7 a.m. Wednesdays by clicking on the radio button to hear broadcasts. The original Voice of Peace, started by Abie Nathan, was an offshore radio station that broadcast aboard a ship from 1973 to 1993 and included guests such as John Lennon, Yoko Ono and The Carpenters, conveying messages of peace. Ticho was one of the DJs on the ship during the 1980s.

UCSD plans more student housing: Anu Delouri with UCSD’s department of Physical and Community Planning noted an additional 1,355-bed graduate and professional student housing project is slated for completion by the fall of 2017. The project is located on the north side of UCSD’s housing mesa, off Miramar Street and Regents Road.

The environmental report on the project will be out at the end of the month. More info at bit.ly/UCSDnewhousing

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