Through the La Jolla Looking Glass: Reflections of a former La Jolla native returning to the fold

Opinion / Guest Commentary / Our Readers Write:

When Alice climbed up onto the fireplace mantel and stepped through her mirror into an alternative world, she would have scarcely experienced just a shred of the shock I found upon returning to La Jolla (and California) after being gone to Asia for many, many years.

Growing up in La Jolla, I found it to be a wonderful, pleasant community. Perfect? Certainly not. No place is. But it was wonderful in so many ways.

On my return, I've found that the memories of my childhood in La Jolla have truly been turned upside down and inside out. By comparison, Alice would be shocked. Here are a few examples of my discoveries:

• I made my first visit to the CVS on Pearl Street. As I was exiting my vehicle, I was approached by a dancing homeless man with blazing red eyes and a straw hat. Mumbling loudly to himself, he pushed me up against the CVS store wall and demanded money for drugs. I guess he saw an elderly woman as easy prey. He wasn't incorrect.

When I talked to the police about it, they said there wasn't anything they could do without witnesses, and more importantly, it wasn't worth their time because California had decriminalized a wide range of serious violations. Police explained that Proposition 47 has decriminalized theft, forgery, writing bad checks, receiving stolen property, drug-use on the streets and shoplifting, among other crimes. They quietly commented that the criminals are now running rampant. Well, I thought, clearly the politicians think that the criminals are going to vote for them. Tragic.

• The following week, while walking down Girard Avenue near Brick & Bell Café, another homeless man threw up on my shoes as I walked by. The strong stink of alcohol couldn't have been more apparent. My joyful anticipation of a return to La Jolla had now been formally cut short.

• Nevertheless, I persevered, eagerly anticipating seeing one of my favorite spots from my formative years. Thus, I took a walk to The Cove. My excitement was instantly dashed as I was overwhelmed by a permeating stench the likes of which I had not experienced on three continents. I was informed by several passersby that it was now against the law to clean the bird and seal excrement off the rocks (even with sea water), and therefore the smell would be with us until the end of time. Alice would have loved that.

When I asked why these defecating animals were at The Cove, clearly destroying the pleasure of so many, I was told that I was obviously not an animal-lover (incorrect), and that I should mind my own business. (I thought I was.) It was all the more perplexing considering that nearby there are the unpopulated areas of Black's Beach and literally 900 miles of untouched Pacific Coastline in Baja Mexico. Alas, who can account for reason.

• Later, as I talked with an old friend from high school, he told me he had considered donating La Jolla land to the City for a park, but after what the City did to Ellen Browning Scripps' Children's Pool, he determined it couldn't be trusted, no matter what indenture was signed. I realized that actions have consequences and this was our loss.

• One of my biggest shocks has been the traffic. I'm all for free enterprise, and furthermore, I think one should be able to build whatever size house one wants on one's own lot. (Private property rights are the linchpin to prosperity.) However, tearing down two houses to change the zoning and put up 10 or 15 units seems to border on insanity — especially when the streets have no more capacity. None.

However, I am constantly informed by many that the City's demand for more tax dollars is unstoppable. This is unfortunate as La Jolla seems to be decades past a desperate need for a really large parking structure.

• My cousin was finally able to buy a house in La Jolla after saving for many years. Six months after his purchase, he found that he had actually moved into a non-zoned hotel zone, when neighbors next door, and other neighbors four doors down, began renting their houses out daily to 12 and 16 strangers, respectively. What little parking was left is now gone as most of these daily visitors bring 4-5 cars per house. This is without mentioning the constant pool parties he endures with music blaring for 6-7 hours a day. Again, reason seems to have vacated our fine community.

• I've found the trash and broken sidewalks in La Jolla to be a wonder, begetting the question how voters put up with this kind of government? La Jolla is one of the richest communities in the country, but no one repairs the streets or cleans the sidewalks. Everywhere I walked, I saw crumbling sidewalks and deteriorating curbs, adjacent to the (dog) excrement that ubiquitously evident.

• And what can one say about our "Sanctuary State?" Is such a thing possible? It seems the attempt to garner immigrant votes are probably the key motivation of our State politicians, but this method of vote acquisition defies cognitive reasoning as "too few people" is not the problem in Southern California.

• Last week, I pulled into the Starbucks on Torrey Pines Road to get some coffee. In the car next to me was a guy smoking a large bong pipe with the windows rolled up. The outline of his face quickly became obscured in the smoke. A few minutes later, he appeared behind me in line with red, wet eyes holding a construction worker's hat. I could hear him loudly discussing his forthcoming drive to work a mile a way. I can only say that I hope he never works on my house or drives near me on the road.

• Almost worse than anything, is that it seems I can't read or listen to the news in California without discerning a distinct and overwhelming bias in almost every news report. On both the right and left, how does one know what to believe if news sources slant everything based on the reporter's viewpoint? Rhetorically I ask, whatever happened to the truth?

• My nephew has a mid-sized manufacturing business in San Diego. He recently explained to me that 20 years ago he spent about 5 percent of his time complying with the regulations of government agencies (OSHA, EPA etc). Now, he says, it takes up 45 percent of his time with little left to run his business. He said he plans to leave California for China at his first opportunity. I opined to myself that this isn't good for California in the longterm and such moves will leave us with only a few rich people and many poor, and no productive jobs. The State government seems to think prosperity grows on trees. Can it get any more ridiculous?

Overall, you can't make this stuff up. California has the highest income taxes in the country but ranks 42 out of 50 in education quality, and U.S. News & World Report's most recent States Ranking Report ranks California 50 out of 50 in quality of life. The absolutely amazing thing is that in the coming election, we are most likely going to re-elect all of these "leaders." Doesn't that say it all? Well, probably not, but welcome me back anyway.

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