La Jolla News Nuggets


Gates are installed at La Jolla Cove

Cove gates that were approved by the California Coastal Commission for La Jolla Cove in December 2017 were installed Jan. 26, La Jolla Light has learned. The gates are to prevent sea lions from climbing up the stairs and onto viewing decks, and thereby interfere with lifeguards and their duties.

The gates are locked in the open position, but can be closed.

A Coastal Commission memo on the gates states: “The City of San Diego’s proposed gates are in response to numerous incursions by resident California sea lions in La Jolla Cove into the public viewing deck and area around the lifeguard station overlooking the popular pocket beach. The City has indicated that sea lions periodically ascend the two public access stairways during the day and become aggressive due to the large number of visitors on the deck, and when they spend the night on the deck they defecate around the area, causing a health hazard for visitors and the lifeguards.”

The gates were suggested by the La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group in 2015 and echoed in the City-contracted Marine Coastal Management Plan, authored by marine mammal expert Doyle Hanan of Hanan & Associates, of 2016.

Todd Gloria asks for homeless funding

California State Assembly member Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) is asking that $1 billion of the State’s $6.1 billion budget surplus fund California’s housing and homelessness crisis.

In a letter to Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Gloria and four of his Assembly colleagues called for $500 million for the Multi-Family Housing Program to fund affordable housing projects that receive federal tax credits, and $500 million to help local jurisdictions address homelessness in their communities.

The letter comes as the mayors of the State’s 11 largest cities, including San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, have penned a letter to the Legislature requesting “focused and significant assistance from the State to address the magnitude and complexity of the homeless problem,” by using budget surplus dollars.

Union-Tribune, LA Times have a new owner

Biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong has agreed to purchase The San Diego Union-Tribune and The Los Angeles Times from its parent company, Tronc. The sale includes The San Diego Union-Tribune Community Press publications of which La Jolla Light is part. Chicago-based Tronc on Feb. 7 announced the sale to Soon-Shiong’s investment firm, Nant Capital, for nearly $500 million in cash.

“It is often said that Southern California is the place where the world comes to see its future. It has welcomed generations of immigrants who worked hard, started new businesses and helped others do the same,” Soon-Shiong said in a note to the papers’ staffs. “My own family immigrated from southern China to South Africa generations ago. We chose to settle in Los Angeles because this is the place that most felt like home. Ultimately, this decision is deeply personal for me. As someone who grew up in apartheid South Africa, I understand the role that journalism needs to play in a free society,” Soon-Shiong said.

Chris Argentieri will resume his role as general manager of the California News Group and work with Soon-Shiong during the transition. Other executives also will continue in their current roles: Jeff Light as publisher and editor of the Union-Tribune and Jim Kirk as editor in chief of the Times.

Soon-Shiong would be the U-T’s fifth owner in the past decade. The Union-Tribune, which is marking its 150th anniversary this year, was owned by the Copley family until it was sold to Platinum Equity in 2009, then to Douglas F. Manchester in 2012 and to Tribune Publishing, which later became Tronc, in 2015.

La Jolla Music Society has one less job opening

Acclaimed pianist Inon Barnatan will succeed Cho-Liang “Jimmy” Lin as musical director of the nonprofit arts organization’s annual August chamber-music festival, SummerFest. Barnatan, 38, takes over beginning in 2019 with a contract for 20 months and an option to extend to 32 months. The Israeli native and New York resident began playing piano at age 3 and made his orchestral debut at 11.

“Inon has always been thought of extremely highly by Jimmy, as well as our audience,” said Leah Rosenthal, the La Jolla Music Society’s director of artistic planning and education. “Not only is Inon an amazing soloist and chamber player, he’s an amazing collaborator, on and off the stage, and a wonderful administrator. And that’s key to being SummerFest’s music director — to work well with the staff and have a shared vision.”

Lin will conclude his 18th year heading SummerFest on Aug. 31. Barnatan’s first season in his new position will coincide with next spring’s opening of the society’s new, $78 million Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center at 7600 Fay Ave.

Barnatan’s new role will help provide stability for the La Jolla Music Society, which last month saw the surprise resignation of Kristin Lancino, its president and artistic director, barely two years after she signed on. Her successor has not yet been named.

UC San Diego to vend morning-after pill

The University Centers Advisory Board has approved a vending machine that will sell generic Plan B pills on campus. This will make UCSD the third University of California school to sell the morning-after pills through a vending machine. According to campus newspaper “The Triton,” UC Santa Barbara installed one in 2015, and UC Davis installed one last March.

The plan is to install the machine in Price Center East, the paper says, preferably in the Commuter Lounge space, by spring of 2018. The approval comes after the introduction of Senate Bill 320 by Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), which requests that public universities offer morning-after pills.

Salk researchers discover how liver responds so quickly for food

A half hour after you eat, your liver switches from burning fat for energy to storing as much sugar as possible. The speed at which this happens has flummoxed scientists – until Salk researchers have recently discovered that liver cells store up pre-RNA molecules involved in glucose and fat metabolism.

“The switch from fasting to feeding is a very quick switch and our physiology has to adapt to it in the right time frame,” says Satchidananda Panda, a professor in the Salk Institute’s Regulatory Biology Laboratory and lead author of the paper, published February 6, 2018 in Cell Metabolism. “Now we know how our body quickly handles that extra rush of sugar.”

This finding could help develop new therapies against obesity and diabetes.

Google maps park trails in street view

A new version of Google Map “Street View” puts you right on the trail on 10 San Diego County parks and preserves.

Las summer, park rangers took a 40-pound camera pack — which snapped 360-degree photos every 2 seconds — to their favorite trails in Agua Caliente, Barnett Ranch, El Monte, Guajome Regional, Goodan Ranch/Sycamore Canyon, Lakeside Linkage, Lindo Lake, Los Penasquitos, Oakoasis, Santa Ysabel East and West, Volcan Mountain and Wilderness Gardens.

To access the footage, go to Google Maps at and type in the name of one of the parks listed above. Street View clips will appear, highlighted by a blue line. Click on the line to be transported to the trail.

City wants to know how you commute

Do you drive, bike or bus? The City wants to know how you get to and from work. Its online commuter survey — which can be accessed at — will help the City track its progress toward its ambitious Climate Action Plan goals, including half of all commuter trips taken by bike, on foot or by public transit by 2035.

Data gathered from the survey may also be used to inform future planning decisions and employee incentives for using alternate forms of transportation.

“One of the most important things we are doing with our Climate Action Plan is working on ways to get people out of their cars and into other modes of transportation,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “I encourage all San Diegans to take this survey and share with us how they commute. The data we gather from this survey will help us make informed decisions going forward as we push to significantly reduce pollution and create a cleaner San Diego.”

La Jolla women lunch for Trump

The La Jolla chapter of the Republican Federated Women has announced that its next monthly luncheon will feature Malcolm McGough, California Political and Field Operations Director for the Trump/Pence campaign. The luncheon is set for 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 22. Call Toby Geisting for the location and to RSVP at (858) 457-5670. The cost is $35.

UC San Diego researchers develop ‘4-D’ movie goggles

A joint team of researchers from UCSD and San Diego State University has developed a pair of “4-D” goggles that allows wearers to be physically “touched” by an object on the screen.

The device can be synchronized with entertainment content, such as movies, music, games and virtual reality, to deliver immersive multi-sensory effects near the face and enhance the sense of presence.

The device, which uses puffs of air, is described in a paper published online in the journal Human Brain Mapping by Ruey-Song Huang and Ching-fu Chen, neuroscientists at UC San Diego’s Institute for Neural Computation, and Martin Sereno, the former chair of neuroimaging at University College London and a former professor at UC San Diego, now at San Diego State University.

It was based on research conducted by the neuroscientists to map brain areas that integrate the sight and touch of a looming object. In their experiments, subjects assessed the subjective synchrony between a looming ball (simulated in virtual reality) and an air puff delivered to the same side of the face. With a delay between 800 to 1,000 milliseconds, the two stimuli were perceived as one (in sync), as if an object had passed near the face generating a little wind.

UC San Diego research discover obesity enzyme

Ever wonder why obese bodies burn less calories or why dieting often leads to a plateau in weight loss? In both cases the body is trying to defend its weight by regulating energy expenditure. Until now, how this happens has been a mystery.

“Human bodies are very efficient at storing energy by repressing energy expenditure to conserve it for later when you need it,” said Alan Saltiel, Ph.D., director of the UC San Diego Institute for Diabetes and Metabolic Health. “This is nature’s way of ensuring that you survive if a famine comes.”

In a paper publishing in Cell on Feb. 8, UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers identify the enzyme TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) as a key player in the control of energy expenditure — or calories burned — during both obesity and fasting.

“There are two important observations that we have linked to slowing metabolism in obesity and fasting,” said Saltiel. “We’ve discovered two new feedback loops that are intertwined to self-regulate the system. Think of it like your home thermostat, which senses change in temperature to turn heat off and on.”

New Community Choice Energy website

The San Diego Community Choice Alliance (SDCCA), a coalition of environmental leaders and local businesses supporting Community Choice Energy (CCE) — a program that brings local control and freedom of choice and competition into the electricity marketplace — has launched

The advocacy website explains how, if approved in San Diego, Community Choice Energy will bring a new energy option to residents and businesses that can propel the City toward its Climate Action Plan goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.

“San Diego receives more electric energy from fossil fuels than almost any other city in California,” said Benjamin Eichert, director of the nonprofit Greenpower and member of the alliance. “A Community Choice Energy program could reduce emissions by more than 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide every year — the equivalent of taking than 8,000 cars off the road or planting more than a million trees.”

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego lands $25K grant

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) has received a $25,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment of the Arts for its Extended School Partnership (ESP), a free arts-integration program serving more than 1,600 students and 40 educators in grades 6-12 across San Diego.

“These NEA-supported projects, such as this one to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, are good examples of how the arts build stronger and more vibrant communities, improve well-being, prepare our children to succeed, and increase the quality of our lives,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “At the National Endowment for the Arts, we believe that all people should have access to the joy, opportunities, and connections the arts bring.”

Schools participate through teacher professional development, guided MCASD visits, in-class activities, and a public showcase of student artwork hosted at the museum.

A $55 million expansion of MCASD — which will quadruple exhibit space from 10,000 square feet to 40,000 — is scheduled for completion by summer 2020. The museum’s La Jolla galleries, 700 Prospect St., served as the home of Ellen Browning Scripps from its 1916 construction until her 1932 death.