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Opinion

Our Readers Write: La Jollans continue debating beach closure; social distancing; airplane noise; Rec Center expansion and more local matters

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EERILY EMPTY — La Jolla Shores would normally be filled with beacher-goers on a sunny, spring afternoon as photographed Saturday, April 4, 2020; but emergency regulations by both the City and County of San Diego have closed beaches, banned going into the ocean and prohibited public gatherings to help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The perimeter of La Jolla Shores Beach is closed off with posted closure notices, yellow caution tape, traffic cones and also watched by police officers stationed nearby. Since the end of March, police patrols and ticketed enforcement have increased to stop citizens from stepping foot onto coastal boardwalks, parking lots, grassy areas and and walkways near shutdown parks, beaches and trails in San Diego County. — Reporting by Daniel K. Lew
(Photo by Daniel K. Lew)

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 editor@lajollalight.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.

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Eerily Empty

Pictured above: La Jolla Shores would normally be filled with beacher-goers on a sunny, spring afternoon as photographed Saturday, April 4, 2020; but emergency regulations by both the City and County of San Diego have closed beaches, banned going into the ocean and prohibited public gatherings to help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The perimeter of La Jolla Shores Beach is closed off with posted closure notices, yellow caution tape, traffic cones and also watched by police officers stationed nearby. Since the end of March, police patrols and ticketed enforcement have increased to stop citizens from stepping foot onto coastal boardwalks, parking lots, grassy areas and and walkways near shutdown parks, beaches and trails in San Diego County.

Reporting by Daniel K. Lew

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The parking lot to La Jolla Shores beach has been closed since March 22, 2020 to discourage gatherings and people getting in close contact during the coronavirus pandemic. Later in the day, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer went even further and closed all City beaches, parks, bays, boardwalks and trails in San Diego. (Individuals who are practicing social distancing, not forming a group of people and staying 6-feet apart from people not in one’s household are still allowed to go for a walk/jog and walk their dog.)
(Photo by Daniel K. Lew)

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It’s time to modify beach closure rules

Now that COVID-19 countermeasures have had several weeks to sink in, we’ve all had time to think about the relative importance of personal liberty and public health. Here is a proposal to modify the beach closure edict that would dramatically increase liberty with negligible effect on public health:

Allow city beaches to open between sunrise and 9 a.m. exclusively for exercise purposes. Exercise will include both ocean activities like swimming and surfing, and beach activities like yoga or jogging. This policy would sufficiently discourage beach crowding and tourism, while allowing residents to enjoy the natural resources crucial to our personal health, both physical and mental.

No policy is perfect, but the current beach restrictions have gone too far and we have better policies available that would require the same enforcement resources while better serving our community.

P.S. To those who would cite UCSD professor Kim Prather’s interview with the Los Angeles Times as reason to not be near the ocean, please read her clarification of her views, posted April 4 to her public Facebook page: facebook.com/kim.prather2

Jeff Holman

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Keep beaches closed until danger passes

Why would you print a letter protesting the beach-closure edict? San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer didn’t close our beaches to protect us from “a virus blowing in from 3,000-plus miles of the Pacific Ocean to infect our community.” He closed them to protect us from others who insist on gathering in groups despite orders to stay-at-home.

They are closed to protect us from those who won’t keep a 6-feet distance and from the breaths, coughing and sneezing that could send droplets of active coronavirus from asymptomatic people (easily caught on the wind) to those of us nearby.

These are real and scientifically backed concerns. Your printing of an inarticulate, tantrum-based falsehood without an editor’s sub-note debunking the idiotic claim does a disservice to all of us.

Kate Baker

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Limiting access to outdoors can harm mental health

Dear San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer: This is a challenging time for everyone. Please use sound judgment regarding exercise and surfing. If people can walk and ride bikes around San Diego city streets, they should be able to surf in our Pacific Ocean using the same social distancing guidelines!

John Dyer

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’Til we know for sure, keep beaches closed

As an avid beach walker, I miss the beaches, too, and, yes, I agree that we may someday conclude that closing them was not absolutely necessary. But you can’t stop a pandemic by playing the odds, especially when those odds aren’t clear.

Enjoying our beaches now is like continuing to share a bag of candies with your family after you have learned that an indeterminate number of the candies might be, or likely are, poisoned.

Ernesto Grijalva

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Beach closure creating hardship for disabled

Many disabled residents are unable to walk or ride bikes due to mobility issues, so closing the access to the ocean is creating a unique undue hardship. I would like to request that a waiver of some type be issued for ocean use by this specific population.

I believe that the closure edict is well-intended, but may possibly be biased and based on the fear generated by one scientist trying to get research funding. The current data does not support her hypothesis and is causing undue harm to our disabled population. According to NASA: “Depending on the season and weather conditions, surges of aerosols can make their way into the atmosphere almost anywhere on Earth.”

It is highly unlikely that swimming and surfing are impacting the spread of COVID-19. The true impact is discrimination against individuals who cannot exercise by other means. (Note: Local swimming pools are closed for use.)

There are additional disabled groups like those with mental illness and those recovering from addiction problems who use the ocean for therapy. As a steward of our beautiful beach city, might I recommend allowing access to the ocean for swimmers and surfers? Issue permits for the disabled? Or do what other communities have done and block parking so those who can walk are forced to walk too far to get to water to make it worth it. People with disabilities could be dropped off and picked up to avoid violation of such restrictions.

Access to our state waters needs to be opened! I beseech you, close the beach, but allow water access at designated locations.

Penelope Nagel

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Rules for walking and social distancing

With the closure of parks, boardwalks, beaches, oceans and gyms, more and more of us are walking neighborhood streets. This has resulted in many observed conflicts. Who moves out into the street?

How do I keep the 6-feet social distance? Unlike motorists, who are taught and trained to stay to the right, walkers are not and tend to act in a less purposeful manner.

To remedy these issues, I and several like-minded friends, suggest these behaviors be adopted by walkers:

1. On a street with no sidewalks, walk on the left, facing traffic, just like mom and dad taught you many years ago.

2. On a street with sidewalks on both sides, walk on the sidewalk to your right in the same direction as cars. If you walk much faster than those around you, walk on the sidewalk to your left and give the right-of-way to the walkers slower than you and those coming toward you. You can easily see oncoming traffic and should move into the street.

3. On a street with one sidewalk to your right, use it.

4. On a street with one sidewalk to your left, follow guideline 2 above.

5. 6-feet social distance is a minimum. We’re all safer if you give the maximum room possible.

Special information for runners, joggers, cyclists: You are increasing your respiratory rate and, with the associated heavier breathing, causing droplets and aerosol from your facial orifices to travel a much longer distance. Accordingly, please provide substantially more social distance.

Special information for motorists: In case you haven’t noticed, more people are walking nowadays. Your behavior needs to change as well. Slow down. There’s no place to go anyway. (Getting nowhere faster seems a bizarre goal.) Secondly, give walkers more room when you pass. After all, there are very few other cars around.

Richard Wolf

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La Jolla Light editor Susan DeMaggio is retiring by the end of April 2020 after 10 years at the Light and a multi-decade career in journalism. She can be reached by e-mail: editor@lajollalight.com
(Photo by Daniel K. Lew)

We’re going to miss editor Susan DeMaggio

Susan DeMaggio has done a fine job of leading La Jolla Light’s news and editorial pages these past 10 years. I join with all its readers in wishing her the best in retirement, but I am also sad to see her go.

Under her leadership and that of publisher Phyllis Pfeiffer, the paper has done a great job of keeping its readers informed about all the important news in La Jolla. Without the Light, La Jolla’s citizens would have no way of knowing what is going on in the community and what is being done by its leadership.

I was a newspaper reporter and editor over a span of 45 years. The daily papers I helped lead are today mere shells of their former selves, so hollowed out with such small staffs that most news of their communities goes unreported. That is why we are fortunate to have the Light and why the paper is worth our support as it continues the good journalism practices of Susan DeMaggio.

David B. Cooper

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Three ways to help healthcare workers

Hope you are staying home and staying strong. These unprecedented times are not only stressful, but can also leave you with a feeling of helplessness. Below are ways you can support dedicated and invaluable healthcare workers, the front-line team risking their lives for us:

1) Feed the Fight SD: Kathryn Muñoz is working through UC San Diego and Scripps Health to provide meal deliveries from local restaurants for healthcare workers via a Facebook fundraiser: bit.ly/feedthefightsd

2) Scripps COVID-19 Fund: giving.scripps.org

3) Giving to UC San Diego Health: bit.ly/givingucsdhealth

Stay home and stay well, everyone!

Judy Adams Halter

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British artist Isaac Julien’s ‘ECLIPSE (PLAYTIME)’ was installed March 30, 2020 at 7569 Girard Ave. as part of the ongoing “Murals of La Jolla” public-art series.
(Courtesy)

Latest Mural of La Jolla serves the situation

I was walking around The Village recently and noticed the new mural “Eclipse (Playtime)” on Girard Avenue in the Murals of La Jolla public-art series. I was immediately struck by how profound it appeared in light of what we are all going through with the stay-at-home policies. For me, it was an expression of how it feels to be inside looking out. Thank you for the article about the mural artist Isaac Julien; I am thoroughly appreciative of this work.

Susie Holub

See the related story: “‘ECLIPSE (PLAYTIME)’: Murals of La Jolla unveils its latest at 7569 Girard Ave.,” at lajollalight.com/lifestyle/story/2020-04-08/eclipse-playtime-murals-of-la-jolla-unveils-its-latest-at-7569-girard-ave

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The preliminary, proposed site plan for La Jolla Recreation Center, as announced in February 2020: A) two new bocce ball courts along Prospect St.; B) Cuvier will be vacated to create more park space; C) better shade throughout the new Center; D) a new, unified playground space; E) the new basketball courts, moved out of the way of the playground.
(Courtesy Image)

La Jolla Rec Center proposal: Bigger not always better

La Jolla Recreation Center is part of my life. I live on Prospect Street and have attended a weekly class there for the past five years. Each day, I walk through the park grounds on my way to Draper or Fay. I have no idea who the author of the April 2 letter is, but I agree with him/her entirely. Yes, the Rec Center building needs renovating and a good cleaning, but an updating of the premises should not balloon into another over-budget, please-everybody extravaganza.

Our neighborhood has been ruinously disrupted by the over-expansion of our contemporary art museum. Does it really need to be four times larger? Giuseppe’s street-side café there was safe and welcoming. To our sorrow, it has been obliterated.

Fixing the uneven sidewalks and streets — providing better street lighting at night (check out Draper after dark) — these are important, needed improvements. And I, for one, detest diagonal parking. It is impossible to safely back out onto the street unless someone can stand behind your car to stop traffic. Accidents will multiply.

Modernizing makes sense at the Rec Center; more shade, an updated playground OK, but bigger is not better. In fact, bigger means more clutter in the park. Please respect the neighborhood’s low-key, graceful ambiance.

Renee Levine Packer

See the related story: “Rec Center Reborn? Committee unveils $6 million plan to revamp La Jolla Recreation Center” at lajollalight.com/news/story/2020-03-05/la-jolla-recreation-center

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Our taxes will support more aircraft noise for La Jolla and San Diego

Amid the harrowing news from New York and Italy, the COVID-19 pandemic has led many to realign their priorities in recognition of the fragility of life and savor what we have. An unexpected consequence for many of those living in Bird Rock, Windansea, Muirlands, Mt. Soledad, La Jolla Mesa and La Jolla Shores, has been the awe-inspiring silence in the skies above us as a result of the dramatic reduction in commercial aircraft activity in and out of the San Diego International Airport.

A vibrant and thriving airport is critical to the economic health of the San Diego region, yet the tranquility we are experiencing should serve as a beacon for what Quiet Skies La Jolla and Quiet Skies San Diego are fighting for.

Several months ago, the groups filed a petition against the $3 billion airport expansion, which includes 11 additional gates and an unspecified additional number of “remain overnight” airplane parking spots. The Environmental Impact Report failed to address the known human health risks posed by the increase in noise that will result from the expansion. We believe in smart growth, and support modernization of the airport; however, we oppose the increase in gates and the path to operational capacity, with all of its accompanying environmental impacts, without adequate noise and environmental mitigation.

Given the current economic catastrophe, including the turmoil roiling the airline industry, Quiet Skies recently proposed a settlement, in which the airport would modernize Terminal 1 and defer gate expansion until the completion and implementation of the ongoing, taxpayer-funded Part 150 and Flight Path & Procedure Studies that aim to identify flight paths that reduce noise impacts to the community. Our settlement was rejected, with the clear intent that the airport and airlines intend to push expansion without regard to the environmental impacts on La Jolla and surrounding areas.

So this is where we stand: We, the taxpayers, are bailing out the airline industry with billions of dollars; and federal money from the taxpayers, combined with financial support from the now taxpayer supported airline industry, will fund ever increasing commercial air traffic come hell-or-high water, without any regard for the quality of life for those very taxpayers — indeed, without even conceding that commercial aircraft noise is a problem at all.

In essence, you will be paying the airlines so that you can hear airplane noise all day, and yes, all night long (there is no curfew on arrivals).

Open your window. Walk outside. Listen. Realize what we have lost. Log onto a GoFundMe effort at bit.ly/quietskiesfundraiser and ask your neighbors, your friends and your representatives to support Quiet Skies La Jolla and our efforts to preserve La Jolla when our lives return to normal. Learn more at quietskieslajolla.org

Matthew J. Price, MD

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Artist’s rendering of the Cove Pavilion restrooms still under construction for Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla
Artist’s rendering of the Cove Pavilion restrooms still under construction (and behind schedule) for Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla
(Courtesy Image)

Delays continue on Scripps Park’s restroom project

I can see little or no change on demolition and/or construction on the park pavilion during a recent visit to the site at Ellen Browning Scripps Park since my last visit in September. I do see that construction is ongoing to repair sewer and water lines in Pacific Beach and La Jolla by other contracted firms despite the COVID-19 epidemic, with workers following safe-distancing.

I see no reason why the City is suspending all work at the Scripps Park site for new guidelines. If workers use safe-distancing and other safety measures, they can continue working and earn money to support their families by completing the restroom pavilion. Perhaps working without any crowds around will actually show some progress.

Jack Resnick

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What’s on YOUR mind?

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 editor@lajollalight.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.


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