Planners ask City to evaluate WindanSea stanchions in La Jolla

In a rare move, the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) voted against the wishes of residents when it comes to the stanchions recently placed at the foot of Playa Del Norte near WindanSea. With the support of nearby residents, the plastic post barriers were installed in an existing red-curbed, striped, no parking zone to deter the illegal parking and loud activities occurring there. The installation was approved at the June La Jolla Traffic & Transportation advisory group meeting, and completed before the LJCPA meeting the following month.

LJCPA trustee Glen Rasmussen requested the item be presented for full review at the Sept. 7 meeting and the board ultimately voted to ask the City to seek other alternatives for illegal parking and activities. Representing the office of District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry, Mauricio Medina said the City worked with the neighbors and was involved in the decision to place the stanchions and that it would be redundant to have them re-conduct the study. Nonetheless, he agreed to ask traffic engineers to come before LJCPA to explain their reasoning and why they went with stanchions.

“The stanchions were placed in an area where many of us who’ve lived here for a long time and surf go to, to view the ocean, the break at WindanSea, and the wave sets. We ought to have the opportunity to discuss alternatives to these stanchions,” Rasmussen said. “I believe a good alternative would be a three-minute white loading zone so when you’re driving down that street and want to pull over to look at the surf, you have a place to do so and move on. That disallows partying down there, to the extent the parking laws are enforced, and we all know enforcement is an issue.”

Beach-access advocate Melinda Merryweather said the area has been used as a view corridor by surfers for decades and identified as such in the La Jolla Community Plan. “The idea that we’ve been blocked out from a view corridor by way of these stanchions (is upsetting). And it was done before this board got to vote on it,” she said. “I would like to see that corner opened back up as a view corridor. We live in a surfing community, just like Aspen is a skiing community. We need to think about our beaches.”

However, Cynthia Chasan, speaking on behalf of the neighbors, and as a representative for the San Diego Police Department Northern Division Captain’s Advisory Board, and as co-chair of the La Jolla Town Council Crime Watch Committee, explained why the stanchions were posted.

“In March 2017, I was asked by Police Community Relations officer Larry Hesselgesser to meet with residents who were having public nuisance issues impacting their right to peace and quiet. I visited the site on multiple occasions and on each occasion, the striped area was subject to illegal parking … and the illegal parkers were loitering and playing loud music from their cars,” Chasan explained.

She added that residents have witnessed eggs and firecrackers being thrown at the condominium complex adjacent the no parking area, illegal drinking and drug use by minors and more. “These may seem like mindless teenage antics, but they are a public nuisance. So after working with police and traffic engineers, we brought this plan to La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation Board as recommended by the City,” Chasan said.

Several residents spoke in support of keeping the stanchions. One said, “The stanchions are working. It’s incredible what they have done for our community and our street.”

Another said the stanchions would not deter people from walking on the sidewalk to view the surf. “The City put in the stanchions, which have proven to be an inexpensive and effective way to enforce the law. It makes life safer,” he said.

One resident was “out of order” and asked to leave because as a discussion over enforcement arose, he yelled, “The police can’t enforce what’s going on, but they’re going to enforce a loading zone?” The board supported the idea to have the stanchions re-evaluated.

La Jolla Community Planning Association next meets 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.