La Jolla 76 station 86’ed

The Unocal 76 gas station at 801 Pearl St., at the corner of Eads Avenue, has closed and plans are underway to demolish and replace it with a mixed-use building featuring 12 condos, four retail spaces and an underground garage.

The La Jolla Community Planning Association voted 13-0-1 to approve Coastal Development and Site Development permits for the project on Oct. 15, 2015, recommending that the City complete an environmental study, look into the possibility of a left-hand turn lane at the intersection and add a stop sign at the top of the driveway ramp leading from the structure.

Mark Conger, former owner of the 76 station and the lot it stood on, did not return several phone messages from the Light. However, an employee of the station — who was stripping the interior of its valuables and declined to provide his name — said that Conger has turned the keys over to “the new guy,” whom he identified as a Canadian property owner.

“They’re going to put up a construction fence,” the employee said, “but it’s up to them when everything gets done.”

The project will situate three condos above four ground-floor retail spaces fronting Pearl Street, with the remainder on the south side accessible from an interior courtyard. The garage, which will contain about 40 spaces, will be accessible from Eads Avenue.

UCSD invents nanosponge to fight arthritis

UC San Diego engineers have invented a microscopic sponge — a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair — that absorbs proteins that trigger rheumatoid arthritis. When injected into mice with the disease, the nanosponge (nanoparticles of biodegradable polymer coated with the membranes of a specific type of white blood cell) reduced inflammation and shielded joints from further cartilage loss.

“Nanosponges are a new paradigm of treatment to block pathological molecules from triggering disease in the body,” said nanoengineering professor Liangfang Zhang, lead author on the study, published in Nature Nanotechnology. “Rather than creating treatments to block a few specific types of pathological molecules, we are developing a platform that can block a broad spectrum of them, and this way, we can treat and prevent disease more effectively and efficiently.”

Zhang and his team previously developed red-blood-cell nanosponges that combat and prevent MRSA invections and macrophage nanosponges that treat sepsis.

Troubled water director resigns

Vic Bianes, director of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department, has resigned after less than a year. Bianes’ short tenure was marked by complaints of huge water bill overcharges that stoked public outrage. (An analysis by the San Diego Union-Tribune showed that single-family homes serviced by the City’s water department were collectively overchargd by more than $2 million last year.)

Matt Vespi will serve as interim director while the City conducts a nationwide search for Bianes’ successor. It has also temporarily hired an experienced water official, assistant chief operating officer Stacey LoMedico, to audit operations and identify additional systemic problems.

Paul Reiser cancels on Comedy Store

Comedian Paul Reiser canceled his standup appearances scheduled for Friday, Sept. 7 and Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Comedy Store. Unfortunately, he did so after the deadline for the Light‘s Aug. 30 issue, which featured an interview with the former “Mad About You” star promoting the shows.

A representative for Reiser blamed the cancellation on a scheduling conflict due to filming. She said she doubted, but did not know for sure, whether it was related to a “Mad About You” reboot that Reiser told the Light “might still happen.”

The rep promised that the shows would be rescheduled, and that the Light would be the first to know when.

Bry requests Torrey Pines shift to all night work

District 1 Council member Barbara Bry has officially requested overnight work for the entire Torrey Pines Slope Restoration Project.

“Over the past several weeks, my office has heard from residents and businesses who have expressed their concerns regarding the traffic,” Bry wrote in an Aug. 30 memo to City Public Works director James Nagelvoort. “I ask that all measures be taken to minimize the disruption of traffic during the day by shifting construction hours to night time.”

Last month, supervisors of the project told the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board that daytime work would add 30 minutes to each of the 53,000 daily trips vehicles make in and out of La Jolla every weekday — until at least early December. (La Jollans experienced similar Torrey Pines Road jams due to daytime work from March through May.)

Bry’s memo also asked that, should night work occur, “accommodations be made to ensure that disruption (especially noise) to the surrounding area be minimized.”

Sick waves! SIO finds that waves keep pathogens by shore

Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) researchers have found that ocean waves trap pollutants and keep them near shore for longer than was previously thought. This new finding, made in collaboration with researchers from the University of Washington, could change the way health officials look for pathogens along coastlines when determining beach closures — especially after storms, when runoff is likely to carry them from land to the ocean via river plumes and small drainage outlets.

Angelica Rodriguez, a PhD student at SIO and lead author of the study, modeled how river plumes disperse in coastal waters in the presence of breaking surface waves. Her results showed that wave-current interactions trap water in the surf zone very close to shore and move it parallel to the coast, rather than offshore as they do more readily in the absence of waves.

“Our results indicate that wave-current interaction is significant to the dilution process and may explain why high levels of pathogens remain in the surf zone and are transported along the coastline,” Rodriguez said of the study, which was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Goods sought for church rummage sale

La Jolla Lutheran Church will hold its annual rummage sale from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 on church grounds at 7111 La Jolla Blvd. Net proceeds will benefit Feeding America San Diego, as they did last year. Donations of items to sell are appreciated, a church spokesperson said. All donations can be brought to the church Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays through Sept. 12. For more information, call (858) 454-6459.

Place school supplies in good hands

San Diego-area Allstate agency owners are donating school supplies to benefit needy students through a program called SKIP (Special Kids Interested Parents).

Now through Sept. 7, La Jollans may drop off pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, pencil cases, erasers, crayons, washable markers, highlighters, scissors, notebooks or folders at the Allstate agency owned by Jawad S. Bisharat at 7858 Ivanhoe Ave. (858) 454-7808.

Shauna’s moved on ...

The streets of La Jolla no longer have Shauna Smith roaming them. The polarizing 30-year La Jolla resident — whom locals tended to adore or abhor — has moved hundreds of miles away, to a desert community where, says longtime benefactor Kirsten Harrison-Jack, “she feels less judged and more at peace.”

“She writes me a bazillion texts saying how much fun she’s having,” says Harrison-Jack, a La Jolla clinical psychologist who continues to foot Smith’s rent and phone bills. “Nobody’s judging her based on being different or sticking out.”

After her year lease is up, Harrison-Jack says, Smith may stay where she is, move somewhere else or return to La Jolla.

According to Harrison-Jack, one of the reasons Smith was always on La Jolla’s streets — even after she was housed — was that her apartment in La Jolla was so tiny. “Now, she’s got a normal-size one-bedroom,” Harrison-Jack says. “It’ll let her relax more and give her the peace and quiet she needs to get going on the book.”

Smith and Harrison-Jack plan to collaborate on Smith’s autobiography, as has been reported by the Light several times over the past three years.

“She’s lived her life in so many marginalized categories — intersex, homeless, African-American — it’s amazing that she has the inner strength, but she does,” Harrison-Jack says.

Though she is Smith’s benefactor, friend and co-author, Harrison-Jack wants it known that she has never served as her therapist or doctor. “It was raining really hard one night and I saw Shauna outside and I couldn’t take it,” she says. “I helped her get a hotel room and it progressed.”

LJCPA to address Playa del Norte parking at September meeting

September marks the conclusion of the six-month pilot program to have limited parking at the end of Playa del Norte in WindanSea as a way to deter illegal parking and disruptive activities, but preserve the view treasured by surfers. As such, the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) will discuss the program and its efficacy during its 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7 meeting at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. The Home Owners Association for the complex adjacent the area and the WindanSea Surf Club will each give presentations. Prior to the limited parking, the City installed stanchions to keep people from parking their cars in the red-curbed area, and reportedly engage in illegal activity. However, those that use the area to view the surf conditions advocated for the stanchions to be removed. In March, the City opted to remove the stanchions and test the limited parking for six months.

La Jolla researcher may have solved mystery illness

The publicly reported symptoms of a mystery illness afflicting American and Canadian diplomats in Cuba and China “strongly match” the known effects of pulsed radiofrequency/microwave electromagnetic (RF/MW), says UC San Diego School of Medicine professor Beatrice Golomb, whose unfunded study findings will run in the Sept. 15 issue of the journal Neural Computation.

“I looked at what’s known about pulsed RF/MW in relation to diplomats’ experiences,” said Golomb. “Everything fits. The specifics of the varied sounds that the diplomats reported hearing during the apparent inciting episodes, such as chirping, ringing and buzzing, cohere in detail with known properties of so-called ‘microwave hearing.’”

Beginning in 2016, personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba (as well as Canadian diplomats and family members) described hearing strange sounds, followed by an array of symptoms. Though some officials and media have described the events as “sonic attacks,” some experts on sound have rejected this explanation. In May of this year, the State Department reported that U.S. government employees in Guangzhou, China had also experienced similar sounds and health problems.

Golomb’s conclusions may aid in the treatment of the diplomats (and affected family members) and assist U.S. government agencies seeking to determine the precise cause.