Our Readers Write: La Jollans share opinions about La Jolla citihood, election signs, bikes riding in traffic, UCSD expansion and more local matters
Opinion / Letters to the Editor / Our Readers Write:
The following are Letters to the Editor from recent issues of La Jolla Light as La Jollans speak out on local issues. Letters published in La Jolla Light express views from readers in regard to community matters. To share your thoughts in this public forum, e-mail them with your name and city of residence to email@example.com or mail them to La Jolla Light Editor, 565 Pearl St., Suite 300, La Jolla, CA 92037. Submissions of related photos are also welcome. Letters reflect the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of the newspaper staff or publisher.
I’m not sure if this is of interest to La Jolla Light or not, but I thought it was too fun not to share (the photo above.) My parents — Paul and Barbara Holz — were both born and raised in La Jolla and were La Jolla High School sweethearts and graduates. For Valentine’s Day, my dad spray-painted a message to my mom! They already had plans to paint the garage door next week, so the holiday was perfect timing! When she saw it, my mom was shocked, laughed hysterically, and then I’m sure she cried a bit. Hope readers enjoy the picture!
Correction: Independent La Jolla still going strong on cityhood drive
At Independent La Jolla, formed in 1952 and a 501(c)4 as of 2005, we are confounded by a letter that appeared in the Feb. 6, 2020 La Jolla Light from Melinda Merryweather, who stated that I resigned from “Incorporate La Jolla,” and that Independent La Jolla is out of business. This is not remotely true or was ever true.
We have a full executive board; 471 registered members who have agreed in writing to volunteer for a petition drive when needed; an opt-in eblast list of 3,542 members; and 4.855 followers on Facebook. No one at Independent La Jolla has ever been involved with an entity called “Incorporate La Jolla.”
In July 2019, Ms. Merryweather expressed interest in forming a new cityhood group, focused on fundraising, to be called “Incorporate La Jolla.” Independent La Jolla has been a strictly legislative effort since 2012 and does not fundraise. When one reads our website and literature one will notice there is no mention of fundraising. The last time our website mentioned fundraising was in 2010.
Instead our sole focus has been legislative for eight years. We travel to Sacramento each month to work with lobbyists and representatives of the other 176 California villages, hamlets and towns seeking cityhood. We are seeking a change from the State Legislature that would enable only the Affected Population (in the case of La Jolla, those registered to vote in 92037). Other volunteers at Independent La Jolla write letters and also work by phone and e-mail with these 176 other groups.
In October 2019, Ms. Merryweather gave an interview to the Light, “Incorporate La Jolla launches initial fiscal analysis for cityhood,” stating her new group “Incorporate La Jolla” will be a fundraising group, non-legislative, seeking a fiscal analysis for a full vote of all voters in the City of San Diego. She said she had already raised $200,000 for that effort from a donor and resigned from Independent La Jolla to pursue this.
It is important to note that Incorporate La Jolla has nothing at all to do with Independent La Jolla — completely different charter. The similarity of the names is indeed confusing.
Any number of corporations can be formed to pursue cityhood, each employing different ideas and strategies. We are uncertain why Ms. Merryweather chose to portray her new group as a replacement for ours. La Jolla has multiple restaurants, serving different menus.
To be clear: Here at Independent La Jolla, we are just fine, plugging away at the Special Reorganization process via State Legislature and working with other groups seeking a Bill that would enable seceding entities “Affected Populations” to be the only voters, as State Law requires revenue neutrality and therefore the City of San Diego would not suffer from our secession.
Independent La Jolla believes this is the best, least expensive and quickest approach to cityhood. Since the costs for a citywide vote are well over $2 million, it makes little sense to us to seek funds for paperwork that will lose all value and only be useful as historical reference unless $2 million in total is raised within that three years.
The unknown outcome of a full citywide vote is simply too much risk and too intangible for a $2 million donor (or group of donors) to bear, which is why the Legislative path (i.e. eliminating the need for a citywide ballot vote) became more logical from our perspective, years ago. But that is simply our perspective. There is plenty of room for other efforts.
For more information, visit cityoflajolla.org or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (858) 768-7550.
Editor’s Note: Melinda Merryweather contacted the Light in support of the above retraction stating: “It was my understanding that Cindy resigned, but she informed me that she has not resigned, and I wish to have the record set straight.”
No way to ‘share the road’
Pictured above: Current traffic “control” for bicyclists going up Cardeno Drive from Pacific Beach is absolutely the dumbest idea I’ve ever encountered. Bicyclists are allowed to use the entire road, not just being restricted to the road edge. Cars can reach speeds of 40 to 45 mph going up Cardeno Drive; bicyclists can only manage 10 mph. Can you imagine the chaos and accidents that would result from bicyclists exercising their legal right-of-way by pedaling up the middle of Cardeno Drive at peak commuting hours? A sane traffic control modification needs to be made here.
Election signs are part of the democratic process
A recent letter complained about “illegal” political signs. The signs pictured were not, in fact, illegal. But what’s interesting is that the letter writer himself makes and/or refurbishes — get this — signs. Yes. A sign-maker complaining about signs. We have a lot to worry about in La Jolla, but this is not at the top of the list. Perhaps we should focus on things like off-leash dogs on our beaches, which is in fact illegal at all times. In any case, we are in the middle of a campaign, so signs are to be expected because they are a form of speech.
Reflection in the Rain
Pictured above: Wet streets helped make this moment magical last week at Herschel Avenue and Wall Street in La Jolla.
Is UCSD listening to the community input it seeks?
This is an open letter to Robert Clossin, UC San Diego Campus Planning Director (email@example.com):
Mr. Clossin: I was around when UCSD obtained the property it now sits on! The University made a promise to the City at that time to not exceed 12,000 students. Now at 45,000 students — and no stopping this train of expansion — we have about had it!
There is student parking all over adjacent neighborhoods, a skyline full of trolley tracks, and a Chancellor telling us that students will not adversely affect La Jolla because they will use the trolley to go downtown! He apparently forgot that we have a beach!
Students can lease new cars for $200 a month or less. UCSD charges $8 a day for parking. Residents lose, not only because they are stuck in traffic and fighting for parking spaces, but they also lose the ability to get to the hospital via emergency services!
UCSD has done little in cooperating with the community soccer complex called Allen Field, named after my parents who provided the funds to build it.
I sent in a letter the last time community input was supposedly accepted by UCSD, however, I never got any response. My comments were respectful and issues were spelled out clearly.
The La Jolla community, of which I am a native of 73-plus years, cannot absorb this mass invasion of buildings and people! The community is already overburdened and lacks the infrastructure to accommodate its current population and visitors! The community’s input should be respected!
Don’t prejudge outcome of local traffic study
I think Joe LaCava has it backwards. He admitted in his Feb. 6, 2020 letter in La Jolla Light that a traffic study is needed to address the traffic at The Throat, but in his opinion, a bridge over La Jolla Parkway is not the solution. His only reasoning is that such a bridge was planned but not built 50 years ago. But we are not restrained by 50-year-old decisions — things change over five decades. We know that as traffic volume increases, we widen roads and build new ones to relieve congestion.
In those 50 years, State Route 52 was built and completed, adding traffic to La Jolla Parkway. In those 50 years, Hidden Valley Road bore the burden of all the increased north-south traffic at the “throat.” But, what we don’t know is what a traffic survey would recommend to relieve this traffic congestion.
I do agree with Mr. LaCava that a study is needed, I just don’t agree that he knows the outcome will not include the bridge.
Where is the peace and quiet of days gone by?
Regarding the recent Guest Commentary, “Curb Commercial Jet Noise,” how can anyone in La Jolla hear the jets over the sound of the leaf blowers?
Misuse of the ‘50 percent rule’ continues
I read the Feb. 6, 2020 article in La Jolla Light about the development of the Reilly “treehouse” property on Olivet, with sympathy for his neighbors (Does Olivet’s ‘treehouse’ renovation go out on a limb? lajollalight.com/news/story/2020-02-05/does-olivets-treehouse-renovation-go-out-on-a-limb)
This appears to be another example of the abused “50 percent rule” (Municipal Code section 126.0704), which exempts from a Coastal Development Permit, modifications and upgrades (like the treehouse where the structure is tripled in size) when “50 percent” of the walls of the original structure are retained. This has resulted in many similar headaches and heartaches for neighbors of over-redevelopment, under the guise of “Well, I got the permit from the City,” as paraphrased from the article. Neighbor involvement with such potentially inharmonious expansions can result in good neighbors rather than what was reported as Mr. Reilly’s sentiments. Compromise makes good neighbors.
While a modest expansion without the expense of a CDP is what was obviously intended under the exemption, local reviews for “bulk and scale” and similar aesthetic considerations that foster neighborhood harmony have been side-stepped, resulting in anything but modest expansions. See the May 10, 2017 issue of La Jolla Light.
The advertisement (pictured above) for this historic house appeared in the April 16, 1927 issue of The San Diego Union. If you have a chance, walk or drive by its location at 515 Gravilla St. and you will see the expansion is another example of the abuse of the 50 percent rule by the current architect. It was a distinctive, historic bungalow. Its expansion has a permit, too. It, too, has tripled the size of this historic house. It avoided a Coastal Development Permit and thereby review of the expansion plans because it retained some walls of this original structure (not before they were almost demolished, which was stopped thanks to the La Jolla Historical Society).
But avoiding a CDP in such a huge expansion where there should be the opportunity for input, it is only now that the new walls are up that we can see what was permitted. Neighbor inquiries into the massive bulk and scale of the addition are now being ignored by the City of San Diego because, well, it has a permit.
I am for a mayor who understands these kinds of problems and will make the Development Services Department stop fostering the degradation of our neighborhoods. This does nothing to provide housing, just one huge house.
No one wants to stop redevelopment, we need it! Just be reasonable about it and don’t abuse the institution.
Let’s close the doors on City of San Diego’s public bank idea
Certain City Council politicos now want a “public bank” to employ the City’s cash reserves to get a whopping 24 percent investment return that would leave the City with no reserves to balance its budget in an economic downturn. Will that hoped-for return come from loans and investments in Ponzi schemes?
Already the City is facing big projected budget deficits for the next four years. The politicos are bulldozing ahead even now to start a business to sell us electricity when they can’t even manage the Water & Sewer Department. What’s next?
I wonder if these gambits are to distract us citizens from the problems the City currently faces, e.g. the Ash Street property black hole, the egregious pension deficit, the potholed streets, the short-term vacation rentals disaster, among other problems the politicos cavalierly ignore.
What are those City Council members smoking? Let Jeff Olson (the North Park resident spearheading PublicBankSD) pay for the $250,000 feasibility “study” out of his own pocket, not ours, if he thinks it’s such a sure-fire financial vehicle!
Some heart-to-heart Valentine’s Day advice
Did you know there are more than 2 million heart attacks and strokes each year resulting in 800,000 deaths and even more debilitating injuries? Since Valentine’s Day is upon us, besides the chocolate and flowers, consider the best gift you can give someone this year is a commitment to a healthy heart! This is a great gift to give (and receive) to any loved ones in your life. I promise, they want YOU more than candy or flowers!
This best gift to give is a commitment to:
• Stop smoking. Quitting smoking is the single most important thing a person can do to live longer.
• Cut down on salt. Too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease.
• Watch your diet. A healthy diet can help to reduce the risk of developing heart disease and can also help increase the chances of survival after a heart attack.
• Monitor your alcohol. Too much alcohol can damage the heart muscle, increase blood pressure and also lead to weight gain.
• Get active. The heart is a muscle and it needs exercise to keep fit so it can pump blood efficiently round your body with each heartbeat. Check with your doctor first before starting a rigorous exercise program.
• Manage your weight. Carrying a lot of extra weight as fat can greatly affect your health and increases the risk of life-threatening conditions such as coronary heart disease and diabetes.
• Get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked.
• The higher your blood pressure, the shorter your life expectancy. Learn to manage your stress levels.
• Check your family history. Many times our past (family history) predicts our future.
• Get a checkup and follow your physician’s advice.
Learn to know the warning signs. Tightness or discomfort in the chest, neck, arm or stomach that comes on when you exert yourself (but goes away with rest) may be the first sign of angina, which can lead to a heart attack if left untreated.
Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
Parkway bridge not the answer to traffic problem at “The Throat”
A recent Letter to the Editor took exception with my stance and the La Jolla Shores Association’s (LJSA) action to oppose a proposed overpass (bridge) to connect La Jolla Scenic Drive North and South. While I respect differing opinions on this issue, I would like to correct misstatements contained in that letter about my views.
At the LJSA meeting, I spoke only against a targeted study of the proposed bridge as a singular solution to traffic congestion at The Throat. Such a study would necessarily include the feasibility of connecting La Jolla Scenic North and South as a through road all the way around the back side of Mount Soledad.
A complete study of such a proposal would require a significant use of City resources to inevitably conclude that the bridge’s extraordinary costs along with neighborhood and environmental impacts make the proposal infeasible. The alternative of connecting to the south using Via Capri would force excessive traffic on this steep, winding residential street; so too this alternative would be squashed. Without a viable route to the south, the overpass becomes a bridge to nowhere.
Contrary to the letter writer’s claim that my position and the LJSA’s action was “rushed,” I would like to provide some context.
I’ve been a licensed civil engineer since 1979 and have volunteered on La Jolla issues and projects for nearly two decades, including traffic-calming projects. I chaired the La Jolla Community Planning Association and was vice-chair of the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board. Similarly, the members of LJSA have intimate knowledge of their neighborhood and closely monitor changes, including traffic, as they may affect The Shores.
The overpass in question was debated and dismissed prior to 1975. No doubt the equally bad options of a new connector road or routing new traffic through Via Capri was the decider at that time as well. There may have been additional reasons, but there should be no doubt that the bridge was permanently erased from La Jolla’s roadway plan 50 years ago.
I stated at the meeting, and the LJSA board agreed, that we need to address the increased congestion at The Throat. Residents, commuters and Village merchants are all frustrated. I agree with the letter writer there is a problem, and clearly so do most La Jollans. Let’s use that as a starting point for solutions to alleviate congestion that do not pit neighbor against neighbor.
More reasons to block Parkway bridge
La Jolla, aka “The Jewel,” is a special community under the California Coastal Act. As a past trustee and officer of the La Jolla Community Planning Association who was Coastal Issues chair for the La Jolla Community Plan Update (certified by the California Coastal Commission during Scott Peters tenure on the San Diego City Council), the proposed bridge over La Jolla Parkway was removed from the Community Plan after extensive public input and community review. Three items we looked at were: public views, degradation of visual resources and the traffic impacts on Nautilus Street, La Jolla Scenic Drive North and South, La Jolla Mesa Drive, Via Capri, etc.
As one enters La Jolla Parkway from S-52 West, there is an uninterrupted horizon of majestic Pacific Ocean views. No one wanted more traffic on our already highly trafficked streets or an I-805 overpass visual blight on top of a world renowned view that was vetted over countless hours of testimony, many years ago (pre-YouTube), and it will certainly have a similar outcome today, beyond the La Jolla Shores Association, as all the issues remain the same.
UC San Diego: Unchecked expansion?
Did you know that UC San Diego is planning to construct at least six tall structures on the 10.9-acre parking lot adjacent to the La Jolla Playhouse? Yes, these buildings will range from 9 to 21 stories high on the current 850-space lot at Torrey Pines Road and La Jolla Village Drive. The massive plans were unveiled at an Open House for the Future College Living & Learning Neighborhood, hosted by UCSD on Jan. 22, 2020. The audience’s reaction to this new college, which will house approximately 2,000 undergraduate students, was surprise, shock and displeasure.
Let me put the height of the tallest building in perspective — there are NO, I repeat — NO buildings in La Jolla that are 21 stories tall. 939 Coast Boulevard is 18 stories. You have to go east of I-5 to find 21 stories at the Pacific Regent. Even the Hyatt Aventine is only 16 stories.
In addition, the top of the 21-story building is a Conference Center, with a ground level Market Plaza of shops and restaurants that will be open to the public. Could some of the 21 stories house hotel-like rooms for the Conference Center programs? All this and just 1,200 underground parking spaces to serve increased activity in the new buildings and the La Jolla Playhouse Theater District! This means only 350 additional parking spaces for faculty, staff, students, conference-goers, maintenance workers, retail and restaurant employees. Where will all these people park everyday?
Traffic, Traffic, Traffic! La Jolla Village Drive is already overloaded. Even the fancy “sync lights” proposed cannot “flow traffic” if it is bumper-to-bumper! The location does not have the infra-structure to handle this. I mentioned this project to the San Diego Police Department, Fire Department and Lifeguards, and they knew nothing about it. All were surprised and concerned that first-responders were not in the loop on this major development, which they would be expected to service.
UCSD presenters at the Open House were asked when they were going to stop building and expanding. No answer. There are discussions about two or more buildings by Allen Field and the J. Craig Venter Institute on the opposite corner of Torrey Pines Road and La Jolla Village Drive. There are also plans to raze the married students housing on upper La Jolla Shores Drive and replace it with high-rise buildings, and for high-density buildings on North Torrey Pines Road at the campus soccer fields. Is there no end in sight?
In the beginning, UCSD stated it wanted to be a part of the community to fit in and to enhance La Jolla. Now its goal seems to me to be how dense can this area become for UCSD’s benefit? In October, La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) asked UCSD about the scope of this project and was told it “was in the initial thought stages.” The LJSA asked UCSD to relocate this project to another area of campus to minimize the myriad adverse impacts on the community. After stating the university was open to discussions, reps never returned phone calls to meet. Just three months later, UCSD dropped this fully fleshed-out plan, and only then sought community input. How important will this community input be if the university’s timeline is to have all approvals by July and to start construction in September 2020?
UCSD’s Long Range Development Plan, adopted in November 2018, states: “UC chose to establish a comprehensive campus in San Diego is due in no small part to the involvement, enthusiasm and commitment of the community. Accordingly, UC San Diego strives to maintain a positive and productive relationship with area residents, officials and agencies.”
For all who are concerned about the overgrowth in La Jolla impacting our beaches and increasing traffic and congestion, you need to stand up now. The call-to-action is to demand that UCSD truly work in total transparency and cooperation with our community on this and all such future projects. Voice your concerns and ask questions about this development by contacting UCSD Campus Planning Director Robert Clossin at firstname.lastname@example.org
President, La Jolla Shores Association
Not keen on condos coming in
Regarding the condo unit proposed for the 22-space parking lot at 7600 Hershel Ave. in La Jolla, I’m so sorry to see the “envelopers” score another touchdown in a town they undoubtedly don’t even live in, but, lot by lot, our charming Village is being eviscerated. It is not so charming when you cannot enter or exit because of overwhelming traffic.
Robyn Willsey Morton
What’s on YOUR mind?
Letters published in La Jolla Light express views from readers in regard to community issues. To share your thoughts in this public forum, e-mail them with your name and city of residence to email@example.com or mail them to La Jolla Light Editor, 565 Pearl St., Suite 300, La Jolla, CA 92037. Letters reflect the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of the newspaper staff or publisher.
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