Our Readers Write: Innovation Center, PTSA president, coastal height limit, community boards, Munk house

A rendering of UC San Diego's proposal for the La Jolla Innovation Center at La Jolla Village Drive and Villa La Jolla Drive.
A rendering of UC San Diego’s proposal for the La Jolla Innovation Center at the intersection of La Jolla Village Drive and Villa La Jolla Drive.

Letters to the editor


Letters to the editor:

Innovation Center plan is wrong building, wrong place, wrong priorities

I have read the recent proposal for the Innovation Center as described in the La Jolla Light (“La Jolla Innovation Center gets a harsh critique at community planners’ meeting,” March 11, “UCSD’s La Jolla Innovation Center project draws aesthetic and traffic concerns at environmental hearing,” March 4) and would like to register my strong objection.

I am utterly dismayed that such a large and aesthetically incongruous building is being put forward. Once again, the university aggressively pushes for inappropriate development, turning a deaf ear to the local community and businesses, and again ignores the community’s coastal height limitation. Moreover, this is an extremely trafficked and congested area; a building such as this is the very last thing the local residential and business communities need or want.

Put succinctly, wrong building, wrong place, wrong priorities. For once, consider the local community and environs. Please respect our coastal height limitations. At the very least, find a site more suitable for such an edifice — one in the interior of the campus, as opposed to on the perimeter of or outside the university’s boundaries.

By now, the university’s repeated requests for community feedback appear to be pro forma. Is anyone truly listening? If so, let’s have proof, not just in word but in deed.

Pia Stern

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PTSA president’s email was divisive political propaganda

I am writing to you after receiving a mass email from the La Jolla High School PTSA president, Sharon Miller, through the parent email listserv. The email has shocked me and many fellow parents as it brazenly, under the guise of information dissemination, encouraged parents to participate in planned protests directed against our district March 13 and 15.

The email was titled “LJHS PTSA - Local rallies to reopen schools,” and the marketing graphics displayed photos of the Reopen SDUSD group, whose leaders/members recently filed a lawsuit against the San Diego Unified School District.

It is thoroughly unethical, hugely unprofessional and wildly inappropriate to misuse a parent email database in this manner. Regardless of stance, this is political propaganda and neither the school nor PTSA should ever promote or disseminate such manipulative rhetoric.

This type of communication causes division rather than unity within our community. Anyone is allowed to be vocal and organize and go to protests as citizens on their own time; however, this email was sent from an official organization affiliated with our school. The PTSA president took advantage of her access to a listserv database containing private parent email addresses to reach an audience most affected by school closures during this pandemic.

As La Jolla parents grapple with difficult decisions, they need their PTSA to represent all parents. Sharon Miller’s misuse of a confidential email database to send a biased email that markets the actions of a controversial group that has sued our school district is beyond reproach. COVID-19 and its variants have proved to be a threat that should be taken seriously, and our community should not be encouraged to participate in any event that could add to community spread and perhaps result in someone becoming gravely ill or worse.

On behalf of many parents who are upset with this egregious misuse of this confidential PTSA email database, we call on Sharon Miller to resign.

Dawniel Stewart

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30-foot coastal height limit is in jeopardy

A March 4 vote by the La Jolla Community Planning Association places the 30-foot coastal height limit in jeopardy.

The voters of San Diego approved this height limit in 1972. The resulting municipal code was supplemented for the purposes of enforcement shortly afterward.

Now, some 50 years later, LJCPA has voted to effectively defeat this code supplement by using so-called code rewrite. The code supplement presently states that the builder must measure height from the finished grade or the existing grade, whichever is lower. LJCPA voted to effectively replace this code and measure “to the lower of the coastal height limit or zoning height limit” in some buildings, according to a La Jolla Light article of Feb. 25 (“DPR drafts proposed code revisions and will submit to Community Planning Association and San Diego”). Imagine what a Tower of Babel such a change would create. But maybe it is confusion that some developers really want.

In the Light article, the chairman of the DPR Committee erroneously states that the height limit in the coastal zone permits 30 feet, plus no more than 10 feet for hillsides. By this he is implying that the building could be as high as 40 feet. However, it was never intended that the slope differential be added to the 30 feet to get the building height. Actually, code Section 113.027 and Diagram 113-02LL clearly show the building is constrained to be 30 feet above the ground for slopes having a grade differential of up to 10 feet. This is exactly what Proposition D called for — a 30-foot height limit. The colorful diagram published in the Light on Feb. 25 clearly shows a dashed line 30 feet above the grade, and more importantly, the building is underneath the dashed line.

As long as the current code states that the building is measured from the lower of the existing grade or finished grade, the resulting building height can never be as high as the old “zoning height limit.” In other words, if the requirement to measure to the existing or finished grade, whichever is lower, is eliminated, the 30-foot limit can never be enforced and Prop. D is gone.

The DPR chairman further states that elimination of this municipal code “doesn’t matter in 95 percent of La Jolla.” But that is not true. La Jolla is not built on a flat lake bed but on a slope to the sea. It is more likely that 95 percent of the lots in La Jolla have some slope, so keeping code Section 113.027 as it is is necessary to preserve the 30-foot limit.

I urge readers to contact their elected representatives and tell them we want Prop. D, the 30-foot height limit, enforced, not changed. We also want Technical Bulletin BLDG-5-4 dated August 2013 rescinded. This document circulated by San Diego Development Services to developers effectively excludes the portion of the municipal code that requires measurement to the lower of the existing grade or the finished grade. Note that Technical Bulletin BLDG-5-4 was written some 40 years after the 30-foot height limit was passed.

David Little

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Some La Jolla boards could use a reality check

Why does La Jolla have so many advisory boards? I assume because of the complex topography of this area, it takes a lot of engineering to make sure that the land is not overdeveloped.

But in reality, these groups are not the ones that have the final say on what gets built or who can operate a business. La Jolla is a township in the city of San Diego and these groups are merely here to advise the city. Don’t get me wrong — I think it is a great thing to have such an awesome community where the citizens do care about the greater good.

But the problem is the entitlement you see from some of these boards. Some things get passed and some are met with extraordinary opposition. The seal of San Diego County has a motto written across it that says “The noblest motive is the public good.” La Jolla seems to have its own motto: “I do noble gestures, therefore my agenda is more important.”

Stay humble, La Jolla.

Mitchell McNamara

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Munk house was an enchanting home for an amazing couple

Regarding the proposed historic designation for the Walter Munk house:

They [Munk and his first wife, Judith] were a unique and admirable force of nature! Absolutely set this home aside.

Years ago, I spent several nights “housesitting” for them and was enchanted by the house. But the real enchantment was with this amazing couple and their contribution to La Jolla and the worlds they touched with their brilliance!

Lyn O'Rourke

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What’s on YOUR mind?

Letters published in the La Jolla Light express views from readers about community matters. Submissions of related photos also are welcome. Letters reflect the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of the newspaper staff or publisher. Letters are subject to editing for brevity, clarity and accuracy. To share your thoughts in this public forum, email them with your first and last names and city or neighborhood of residence to You also can submit a letter online at Letters without the writer’s name cannot be published. Letters from the same person are limited to one in a 30-day period. ◆