Guest commentary: There’s a way to get a community benefit from UCSD’s new development
UC San Diego is pushing through another mega-project. The local community did not get anything out of the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood. It would only be fitting that the community should be able to realize some benefit from the gracious UC regents with this next massive project, dubbed the Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood.
Connection to the city utilities may be the only hurdle that could slow this project at this point. Asking the city of San Diego to join in the lawsuit against the regents and this project could be necessary to get the regents’ attention.
Improvements to the east or uphill side of Torrey Pines Road could be a great contribution for the betterment of La Jolla and all the city citizens and tourists who enjoy La Jolla. The runoff that flows down TPR ends up in La Jolla Shores and adds to the issues at the Avenida de la Playa boat launch.
We need a coordinated effort to address the annually repeating issues at La Playa that relate to so many businesses along La Avenida. If the regents agree to work with the city to replace and increase the size of the sewer pipes running down TPR, more of the storm runoff could be directed to the sewage treatment system and less would end up running down La Avenida into the ocean.
Each time the boat launch is closed, La Jolla Shores loses tens of thousands of dollars in tourist-related revenue. The pollution that runs into the marine reserve at La Playa is a concern as well. If one of the ancient sewer mains in the area were to break, we could lose access to La Playa for months.
As shown in the accompanying photo, TPR is in dire need of repairs and upgrades. More surface runoff will be created by the proposed mega-project, and UCSD should contribute, as most developers do, to improving the road that leads directly to the project. TPR is the primary bike access into and out of La Jolla. It is the only designated bike path up to the UC Mesa and is currently very unsafe. Someone will die along this road if something is not done soon.
UCSD students should have better pedestrian and cycle/scooter access to The Shores to help limit the number of cars they bring down to the beach. If TPR had a safer protected bike lane and sidewalks, it would be more utilized, and this could be accomplished as part of a sewer main improvement project.
Roots of the Torrey pines in the TPR canyon are likely impacting the sewer lines, and annual cleaning of these pipes is not a long-term solution. New sewer lines in the area of the Theatre District project would likely be connected to the sewer main along upper TPR. Sewer main and other improvements along TPR should be addressed now with support from UCSD. If this is all we can extract from the regents at this time, this would be a great achievement for The Shores and the community at large.
Torrey Pines Road northbound improvements are needed, including replacement of the sewer main, widening of the road by three feet to protect the bike lane, and sidewalks, streetlights, fencing and retaining walls where needed, such as below The Woods.
Requiring the UC regents to complete these TPR improvements would be a small addition to the billions of dollars in projects they are currently planning. If the La Jolla community groups can work with the city on something it controls — sewer and water connections — we should be able to get the attention of the regents to do the right thing for the community they profess to be part of.
Kurt Hoffman is a La Jolla resident. ◆
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