Plans to spruce up Black's Lookout introduced

Although the sweeping view of the ocean and glimpses of cliffs up the coast of La Jolla from Black’s Lookout is gorgeous and serene, some residents feel the overlook itself is less than dazzling. A project to re-vegetate and spruce it up was introduced at the Nov. 28 La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJP&B) meeting at the Rec Center. Black’s Lookout is located north of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, off La Jolla Shores Lane, at the end of a walkway between two houses.

LJP&B member Patrick Ahern, with help from fellow member Ann Dynes, found a landscape architect to draft renderings for the Coastal Commission-dedicated view corridor. The presentation was the first of several as plans become more solid. A pricetag has not been set. 

“Right now, (the overlook) is just dirt, some trees and a fence that is falling apart. The neighbors would like it improved, and the surfers who use that spot would like it, too. It used to be a shortcut to Black’s Beach. We’d like to beautify it, but not necessarily make it a gathering place. Just a place to come and appreciate the view,” he said. 

Landscape architect Erik Von Koehe explained, “We want to make it a little nature walk, so we’d incorporate a coastal shrub plant palate and bring native plants into this already existing open space. The game plan is to create a new view fence, so you have a nice view of the lookout, and then beautify the area.”

Drought tolerant vegetation would be planted, and watered only until the roots are established. No irrigation system would be installed. To establish the plants, nearby residents have reportedly agreed to help with watering. 

There is currently a chain-link fence at the overlook that Ahern said people currently climb over, which has led to several rescues. “Neighbors are concerned about safety. I’d like there to be no fence, which we may consider, but it’s likely there will be a fence,” he said. Von Koehe said an option is to install a “view fence,” which is a private fence that can be seen through. One idea posed uses metal poles with no cross bar, or as Ahern put it, “you can see through it and get this sense of nothingness but it’s there for security.” 

Generally in support of a fence, board members also suggested a bench and trash can. A trash can reportedly was once found at the lookout, but was removed years ago when budget cuts decreased trash pickups. Should a trash can be installed — which one attendee pleaded for — the question arose as to which entity would empty it. “We don’t know if the City would do it or if we would have to look into some other option,” said Dynes. “The neighbors have a little community garden, so maybe we could partner with them to empty the trash.”

In sharing his insights, Ahern advocated for a trash can, but not so much for a bench. “At the very least we need a trash can, but I polled the surfers that were up there (in researching this project) and most said, surprisingly, they don’t want a bench,” he said. “They want to keep it as a lookout, let people check out the waves and leave. A bench is something to consider, but some don’t want it.”

As an alternative, he said perhaps some sitting boulders could be installed. “The main worry is the law of unintended consequences. We don’t want this to become a party place,” he said. 

The board voted to approve the concept, noting the sub-committee would return with more information at a future meeting. 

In other LJP&B news:

Half Marathon OK’d: Although it was discussed and approved at the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation group meeting, the 2017 La Jolla Half Marathon was also presented to LJP&B with one minor change. Applicant Leisha Lamp said, “This afternoon, I heard from the City that there is going to be a (construction) project on Avenida de la Playa, so we need to set up a detour in La Jolla Shores,” she said. “Everything else is the same, including the course, the time, etc. We don’t have any other change besides that one little jaunt in the Shores.” The 36th annual half marathon will begin at Del Mar Fairgrounds and end at Scripps Park in La Jolla on April 23, 2017. The board voted unanimously to support the event. 

Children’s Pool Walk: The majority of a donation given the Children’s Pool Walk beautification project has been moved to Friends of WindanSea, at the wishes of the donor, Tom Morgan. LJP&B member and president of Friends of WindanSea, Melinda Merryweather, announced that Morgan, who donated $250,000 to the Children’s Pool Walk project in November 2013, would like the remaining $173,777 moved to WindanSea. 

“After we raised the money to complete the Children’s Pool Walk project, the City came in and said they would do it,” she said. The differential $77,000 funds was used before the City overtook the project — chiefly on permits and fees. “Now, Tom would like the funds to go to WindanSea where we have a set of stairs to (refurbish), there is an area that needs more Decomposed Granite, and we have a ton of other projects we’ve been dying to do. There are also repainting projects to carry out.” She presented a letter indicating Morgan’s wishes, which the board voted to support. 

Next year’s board: A nominating committee presented a slate of officers to serve on the Parks & Beaches board next year, which will be voted on at the next meeting. The ballot includes Dynes for president, Marie Hienrichs for recording secretary and Dan Allen for corresponding secretary. A vice-presidential nominee was not announced. 

— LJP&B will not meet in December, but will reconvene 4:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23, 2017 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollaparksandbeaches.org

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