La Jolla Park and Rec board revisits parking garage proposal

Four months after the initial presentation on a proposal to install a parking structure under the La Jolla Rec Center, the La Jolla Park & Recreation, Inc. board was updated on the progress during its Feb. 28 meeting. Developer Tom Grunow seeks to build an approximately 100-space, one-level, underground garage with an ingress on Cuvier Street and egress to Draper Avenue, and remove some on-street parking. The discussion was information-only, and the board did not vote.

Since presenting in October 2017, Grunow said he has met with more than 60 people and cultural institutions.

“Many groups are in favor of greening-up the La Jolla Cultural Zone (consisting of institutions such as The Bishop’s School, La Jolla Historical Society, La Jolla Woman’s Club, La Jolla Rec Center and more) and get flexibility with parking. I have a meeting set with the Village Garden Club … and they might help fund underwriting and ‘adopt’ certain plots and be responsible for the maintenance,” he said.

“We’ve talked about putting together a charrette of landscapers, traffic engineers, people who have knowledge of parking garages and representatives from the Rec Center, to look at the integration of a parking facility,” Grunow said, adding that an architect with UC San Diego has reportedly signed on to head the charrette team. “With the number of people coming in and out of the entrance, the mission of the Rec Center could be to make it a more highly used, town-square type space.”

Along the way, Grunow has faced some opposition to the idea, largely from members of the La Jolla Tennis Club.

He later told the Light members of the Tennis Club had lingering concerns from when a similar plan was introduced 15 years ago to install an underground parking garage under the Tennis Club itself. At the time, he said, players were worried that the construction would cause the ground to warp and affect how their balls would bounce.

“I don’t know if some people are objecting on principle, but this plan is different in that it is under the Rec Center rather than the Tennis Club,” Grunow said.

Another voiced concern is the exhaust that would come from cars, which Grunow said would be addressed by a ventilation system, but that newer model cars release less exhaust then cars of the past.

To set the record straight, a next step will be to create a marketing package to inform people about the plans and its benefits. “I’d like to start a dialogue with those who oppose the idea,” Grunow said at the meeting. “There are is going to be some opposition, but if we can address the concerns, we might get somewhere.”

LJP&R chair Mary Coakley-Munk said: “Our community needs to have something we can come together on. I would hope those in opposition, rather than getting together to fight it, sit down with Tom and those who are working on (the underground parking garage). Maybe we can come up with a compromise that suits everyone’s needs. No one is trying to push anything down anyone’s throats; we want to work together.”

In other LJP&R news:

Shower stalls: Although a formal vote was not taken (because the presenter requested to be on the agenda after it had been created), the board heard a presentation about funding the creation of showers at La Jolla Rec Center. David Parry, owner of the Beverly Hills-based Building Capital LLC, expressed interest in funding the project.

“When I looked to join a gym, a friend of mine said the Rec Center (workout room) was inexpensive, but when I inquired about showers, I was told they were closed off because homeless people were using them,” he said. “We could donate the money to renovate the bathrooms, add showers and put lockers in the rooms. We would be willing to explore this in good faith.”

Without any objection, Parry said he would return to a future meeting to give a more formal presentation.

Shady dealings: The board’s effort to get a shade structure installed over the playground at the Rec Center hit a bit of a snag — the estimate has doubled. The board approved $22,000 for shade sails in December, and agreed to fund some of it from its 501(c)3 account. However, that estimate was based on tying the shade sails to existing structures and fences. But San Diego Park & Recreation area manager Tyler Canales said that was not possible, and that in-ground posts would be needed to be installed to the tune of thousands of dollars.

Adding to the cost are structural engineers who need to be brought on to make sure the weight and wind loads are accounted for. Chair Coakley Munk said the board would investigate alternative contractors to install the posts.

La Jolla Park & Recreation, Inc. next meets 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 28 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.