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Our Readers Write: Boomer Beach, Walter Munk, roundabout, code violations, more

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Letters to the editor

A Boomer Beach closure would be unfair to responsible users

This letter was sent to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and the City Council, with a copy to the La Jolla Light on July 26:

I believe closing Boomer Beach in La Jolla due to people’s harassment of sea lions would be an overreaction and would unfairly punish the San Diego residents who have been responsible stewards of both our recreational areas and the wildlife with whom we share these areas.

Since the beginning of the pandemic (and the closure of the entertainment industry in which I had been employed), I have found great physical and mental health benefits through various water activities in the La Jolla area. I have been able to enjoy the beautiful natural wonders more than most San Diegans and have become familiar with many of the residents and visitors (both wild and tame) in the area around La Jolla Cove.

I share the concerns of the Sierra Club and others and have been upset when witnessing the disrespectful behavior of those who feel the need to get within a few feet (or less) of our pinniped neighbors. However, it is my observation that the vast majority (if not all) of these offenders are not residents of San Diego and are certainly not the residents who use this area for healthy activities.

Allow me to relate one personal experience that may illustrate why we should not close Boomer Beach. One night this past winter I was free diving for lobster south of Point La Jolla and became motion-sick. I needed to get out of the water as soon as possible or I may have drowned. Boomer Beach was the closest exit and I probably would not have been able to swim to Shell Beach or La Jolla Cove in my condition. There were sea lions on the beach, but I am experienced and thoughtful enough to know how to get around them without making movements that would upset them. My point is that if this were to happen and the beach were closed, I would be breaking the law. I make every effort to be a responsible, law-abiding citizen, and closing Boomer would take a healthy, non-threatening activity and make it a crime.

As I said earlier, I share the concerns of other animal lovers. I do not like it when people harass the sea lions. I would like to see a ranger posted during the peak tourism times to keep people from approaching the sea lions.

However, I believe it would be overreaching to close access to the beach entirely. Snorkelers, divers, bodysurfers and other San Diego residents have been entering and exiting the ocean at Boomers for years without harassing the sea lions. Please do not punish responsible, health-conscious residents because of the actions of non-residents and a few other careless individuals.

Justin Quiring

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Boomer Beach and all others in La Jolla should be open

This letter was sent to San Diego Parks & Recreation Department Director Andy Field and City Councilman Joe LaCava, with a copy to the La Jolla Light on July 30:

Boomer Beach has been effectively closed by the city with the very recent installation of the “Stay back: Sea lion birthing area” signs at the entry to Boomer Beach and the stairs to Point La Jolla (“City completes signs and stenciling directing beach-goers to keep away from La Jolla sea lions,” July 15, La Jolla Light).

Dec. 15 to May 15 is the [harbor seal] pupping season that the city of San Diego utilizes to close the Children’s Pool to our citizens. The city continues to take actions at our parks and beaches without public input and required review by the California Coastal Commission. The installation of the bright yellow “Stay back: Sea lion birthing area” signs are effectively keeping most people off Boomer Beach while bathers enjoy the Children’s Pool with the entire sandy beach open to the public. The sandy beach between the Children’s Pool and Boomer Beach is open to bathers as well.

The Cove is full of bathers. Only Boomer Beach is effectively closed, with access now quite treacherous related to the recent slope work the city completed to cover the historic stone steps at the end of the handrails.

The recent development of a sloped dirt ramp leading to Point La Jolla allows sea lions to walk right up to the wall where the tourists regularly sit to watch the sea lions.

Boomer Beach provides an easy haul-out for large sea lions to access Point La Jolla with minimal effort. Once again, the city of San Diego has facilitated a change to the local marine mammal behavior by effectively closing Boomer Beach to public access.

This is the dying season for sea lion pups that have not been taught to effectively hunt or are not being fed by their overburdened mothers with too many young to care for. I observed two dead sea lion pups on Boomer Beach and a third juvenile in a cave that looked sick and disoriented. Tourists yelled at me to get off the beach as I took pictures of the dead pups and picked up a plastic bottle on Boomer Beach [July 28].

All La Jolla beaches should be open to the public, especially during our busy summer tourist season. Access to Boomer Beach should be restored, with the stone steps uncovered and the “Stay back” signs removed immediately.

Kurt Hoffman

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IGPP office was Walter Munk’s primary place of research

Your July 29 article about the IGPP [Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics] building at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (“Munk Laboratory at Scripps Oceanography is recommended for National Register of Historic Places,” La Jolla Light) includes a statement from Mary [Coakley] Munk that for Walter Munk’s scientific work, “no meaningful comparative analysis was offered among his offices at IGPP, his other offices on the Scripps campus or his home office at Seiche.”

We write to offer such an analysis. One of us became Walter’s graduate student in 1973, and then a lifelong colleague. The other had an office just down the hall from Walter’s from 1972 on.

From 1964 until Walter was well into his 80s, he did science primarily in his office and labs in IGPP. He and Judith Munk conceptualized many things about IGPP, including his own office, which was designed for research: lots of filing cabinets, two instrument labs just steps away, and the offices of his collaborators down the hall. This office was where he could be found during working hours. His years there produced 60 percent of his publications; 30 percent were from other SIO offices, before IGPP.

IGPP included spaces built specifically for the instrument development and cutting-edge data analysis that were hallmarks of his research.

Like any dedicated researcher, Walter Munk worked on understanding the ocean wherever he was, and in his final years he worked much more at home. But the research that made him famous was done at SIO, especially in the IGPP building he envisioned and created.

Duncan Agnew
Peter Worcester

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Historic designation of Walter Munk’s home doesn’t fit the intent of his gift to UCSD

I am following your coverage of the Walter Munk house with particular interest from knowing Walter and Judy for over 20 years and having been one of five people who attended Walter and Mary Coakley’s wedding.

The last paragraph of your article dated July 22 (“UC San Diego to sell La Jolla former home of oceanographer Walter Munk,” La Jolla Light) quotes Mary as saying she “truly hopes that a buyer will emerge who ... embodies so much of the beauty of Walter and Judith Munk’s spirit.”

In previous articles on the Munk house, I noted that Mary completely spoke against the wishes of Judy, the two Munk daughters and James Cairns, the Munk estate representative, by disregarding the notarized letter that Walter signed requesting that the house not be designated historic.

I remember discussing the notarized letter with Walter before he gave me a copy of it. He told me an overriding reason he wanted the letter notarized was to honor Judy’s wishes to donate it to UCSD. Mary’s claim that Walter agonized over this without any written confirmation of his change of mind rings hollow to me. Obviously, he did not communicate these new wishes to his two daughters or to Mr. Cairns.

Since Judy had passed away before Mary and Walter got together, I wonder how Mary concludes that historic designation of the Munk home somehow honors Judy Munk’s beautiful spirit.

Previous articles in the Light quoted Walter about his love for UCSD and in particular the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a love so deep that the home was donated to UCSD with a provision saying that if UCSD was unable to make use of the home that it should be sold to provide funds for use by UCSD.

An argument could be made that historic designation reduces the value of the home because it restricts what the owner of the home can do in terms of remodel or rebuild. This might lead to UCSD receiving less for the property when it sells.

Mary is quoted again in the last paragraph of the July 22 article saying, “We can only hope that the private market can achieve what UC [San Diego] has sadly chosen not to do.” Could it be that UCSD chose to sell the house rather than deal with the restrictions the historic designation puts on the house?

Seems to me, based on the letter to the editor (“Preserve Walter Munk’s house for science”) in the July 29 La Jolla Light from Peter Wadhams, a scientific advisor to the Walter Munk Foundation for the Oceans — a nonprofit organization that Mary sits on the board of — may now try to buy the Munk property at what might be a discounted price as a result of the historic designation that she applied for.

Connecting these dots makes me wonder if honoring the beauty of Walter and Judy’s spirit is the real intention here.

The real intention of the gift was to support UCSD, which should have been able to sell the property to the highest bidder without interference from people who claim to have the Munks’ best interest at heart.

John Massey

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A roundabout at Nautilus and Fay is not a good idea

Regarding “La Jolla traffic board approves concept for landscaping and roundabouts on stretch of Nautilus Street,” July 29, La Jolla Light):

In supporting a traffic circle at the intersection of Nautilus and Fay, some members of the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board seem to have lost track of the context of that intersection. With the middle and high school students crossing Nautilus in two places and Fay in one (eyes typically glued to their phones), with both late-arriving student and parent drivers often rushing to get to school and with a fire station often in need of immediate and clear access to and through that intersection, what were the supporters (and proposer) thinking?

The circles on La Jolla Boulevard never see similar pedestrian traffic levels (sorry, merchants) and that pedestrian traffic is more skewed to adults (who also often have the eyes-glued-to-phone disease).

Then there is the issue of actually knowing how to safely use a circle. Watch the traffic on La Jolla Boulevard for lessons on how to not properly use one — again, with significantly less pedestrian traffic.

The circle suggested for the top of Via Capri makes some sense and one at the intersection of Pearl and Draper might also work (eliminate the awkwardness of the intersecting streets).

A circle at Fay and Nautilus, even with those blinking yellow lights (often just an invitation to race through them), is not the right improvement for that location.

Dan Linn

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Sharing the pain in dealing with code violations

I read your July 22 article concerning the food truck that often parks in front John Klitsner’s residence and felt a twinge of compassion for Mr. Klitsner (“Food trucks parked on La Jolla coastal streets violate code, but public ‘has limited recourse’”), La Jolla Light.

I, too, am trying to get the city of San Diego to hop to concerning a Code 3 (lowest priority) violation on my street. The violation is an illegally converted garage to bedroom, not a food truck, but the issue is the same — getting action. My first report to the city was in early June. On the city website it states “four weeks” to resolve a Code 3 complaint. Still waiting.

The Department of Development Services receives 5,000 complaints annually. It has 67ish employees; not sure how many investigators, secretaries, etc. Code 3 violations get bumped down based on what is reported daily. If a multitude of Code 1’s and 2’s come in, the Code 3 on a zoning Investigator’s desk will not get attention. And the same thing can happen the next day and the next.

Good news: I have spoken to the zoning investigator and the senior zoning investigator and emailed the director. To help facilitate their investigation, I have provided contact names and numbers for several people connected to the house with the illegal bedroom.

Bad news: The ZI is waiting for the property owner to respond with a day/time when the ZI can come out and do an inspection.

Unbelievable: The city doesn’t impose fines on non-responsive property owners.

In conclusion, you must be a squeaky wheel and put everything in writing. An email is a legal document.

Trudy Grundland

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Masks in schools make sense given coronavirus resurgence

I find the attitude of the Let Them Breathe parents to be anti-science and extremely short-sighted (“San Diego County parent group sues state in effort to end school mask mandate,” July 29, La Jolla Light).

Isn’t a parent’s first priority the health and welfare of their child? In the Aug. 1 San Diego Union-Tribune, it was reported that the newly resurgent coronavirus could spark 140,000 to 300,000 cases a day [in the United States, according to the Washington Post]. We’re already seeing more than 70,000 cases per day [nationally], and the trend is up.

Since children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine, the next reasonable alternative is for them to wear masks. Unless, of course, you think your child is somehow immune to what’s happening in the world around them.

Ron Weiner

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Signs aren’t ending stuck trucks

Reader Urs Baumann sent this photo of a truck that got stuck heading up Hillside Drive from Torrey Pines Road on July 28.
(Urs Baumann)

Another truck got stuck on Hillside Drive on July 28 at 9:30 a.m. (See related photo.) How many more signs are needed to stop this?

Urs Baumann

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Intrusive scooters are still a problem

Reader Ted Bleckman took this photo of an electric scooter left on his driveway.
Reader Ted Bleckman took this photo of an
electric scooter left on his driveway.
(Ted Bleckman)

Can any of our paid civic servants stand up and take care of our trash/litter/scooter issues? I can’t park in my driveway. (See related photo.)

Ted Bleckman

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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 robert.vardon@lajollalight.com. You also can submit a letter online at lajollalight.com/submit-a-letter-to-the-editor. The deadline is 10 a.m. Monday for publication in that week’s paper. Letters without the writer’s name cannot be published. Letters from the same person are limited to one in a 30-day period. ◆