La Jolla News Nuggets: Vons to be used for valet parking by The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center and more local news

According to the La Jolla Music Society, Vons has agreed to handle The Conrad’s overflow event parking.
(Corey Levitan)

The Conrad to valet park in Vons lot

An agreement has been struck to use a portion of the Vons parking lot at 7544 Girard Ave. for valet parking for The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center when needed.

La Jolla Music Society (LJMS) board member Rafael Pastor, speaking at a presentation at The Lot on Feb. 15 aimed at lining up promoters to rent The Conrad’s halls, said: “We have a great relationship with Vons, who has a very large parking lot, and their management has indicated that they are willing to provide us spaces for our staff and for valet during performances.”

Pastor said that the parking structure under the Bank of America at the corner of Kline Street and Fay Avenue will provide “almost 200” spaces for events — all paid parking — and that LJMS has letters of agreement with five other nearby structures to provide any other parking necessary. (The Conrad’s Baker-Baum Concert Hall will seat up to 513, and its JAI theater up to 180.)

The Conrad is expected to open in April or May of 2019.

Former Viking gets 17.5 years for child porn

Christian Clews at his Carmel Valley ranch
Christian Clews at his Carmel Valley ranch FILE

Christian Clews, a 1983 graduate of La Jolla High School, will serve 17.5 years in prison following what a federal judge termed a “deeply troubling” child pornography possession case.

“This case is different,” Judge Dana Sabaw, U.S. District Court Southern District, said at the sentencing hearing on Tues., Feb. 13. “There’s a crossing of the great divide between simple possession and predatory conduct.”

Prosecutors presented the statements of five adult women who allege that the 52-year-old Clews — the owner of Clews Horse Ranch in Carmel Valley and a former member of the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board — sexually abused them when they were teenagers. In at least two cases, the alleged victims identified themselves on videos found in Clews’ possession when federal agents raided his ranch in the fall of 2016.

Clews pleaded guilty to two counts of child pornography — one each for possessing and distributing — in July, charges which together carried a maximum sentence of 40 years.

Bird Rock principal 'taking time off' after parent allegations

Bird Rock Elementary School principal Amanda Hale has taken a leave of absence following job performance allegations that have come to light, the San Diego Unified School District has announced.

A letter dated Feb. 14 from Area Superintendent Mitzi Merino states that Hale will “be taking some time off to spend with her family,” effective immediately.

Former Muirlands Middle School principal Chris Hargrave will serve as interim principal.

Some parents say Hale has failed to address some students’ special learning needs, failed to provide a safe environment for students, and reportedly told a teacher not to report a case of inappropriate touching in the classroom, among other accusations.

Two new dock-free bike-sharing options for La Jollans

When bike-sharing was brought up in the past, La Jollans largely objected to bike or kiosks that you had to return the bikes to, and the lack of locks. Two bike-sharing companies that just launched operations in San Diego, ofo and LimeBike, offer workarounds.

Via smartphone apps dedicated to either service, users can locate the nearest bike, rent it and then, once at the bike, unlock it by scanning a barcode. When finished with a bike, users can leave it anywhere — although next to a sidewalk is preferred — and relock it via the app.

Neither ofo and LimeBike has a storefront in San Diego, but both companies have operations crews combing the City, attempting to bring available bikes back to where they’re being requested the most. You’ll probably see more ofo bikes in La Jolla, since a LimeBike spokerson said its initial deployment “focuses on areas that are underserved, in close proximity to major transit stations so we can serve as a first- and last-mile mobility solution.”

Salk and UCSD to study firefighter diets

Researchers at the Salk Institute and UC San Diego School of Medicine have been awarded a $1.5 million grant from Homeland Security to determine whether restricting food intake to a 10-hour window can improve firefighter well-being.

“Firefighters seem invincible to us, but they are actually at high risk for many chronic diseases because of how shift work disrupts the body’s natural rhythms,” says Satchidananda Panda, a professor in Salk’s Regulatory Biology Laboratory and co-principal investigator of the three-year study. “We want to understand if we can counter some of the disruption with simple changes not only to what firefighters eat but also when they eat.”

Panda, whose laboratory studies the molecular bases of circadian timekeeping in mammals, previously found that restricting the access of lab mice to food for 8-10 hours a day resulted in slimmer, healthier animals compared to mice that ate the same number of calories around the clock. Preliminary studies in humans suggest similar health benefits of such “time-restricted eating,” which does not change the quality or quantity of food, just the time period in which it is consumed.

Mt. Soledad plaques available to public

The granite plaques on display at the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial plaques are available for purchase by the public.

“The stories on the plaques create a living monument that salutes not only the individuals who have served but also the ideal of service to others,” said Tim Chelling, executive director of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Association (MSVMA).

Prices — which the nonprofit must legally refer to as donations — range from $950 to $1,800 per plaque. A copy of the veteran’s honorable discharge paper, Form DD-214, is required.

What’s not required, which may come as a surprise, is a death certificate. Chelling estimates that up to 40 percent of the veterans featured on the plaques are still with us.

“It’s called a memorial, but it’s more like a monument,” Chelling said. “You see a lot of people getting plaques for their fathers or brothers, so they can enjoy seeing them while they’re still alive.”

For more information, call (858) 459-2314 or visit

Art & Wine Festival seeks artists

The La Jolla Art & Wine Festival — slated for Oct. 6 and 7 in downtown La Jolla — is accepting applications from oil painters, watercolorists, sculptors, jewelers, and ceramic, glass and mixed-media artists.

The application process differs this year since it will done through Applicants must create a profile on the site. All applications must include a $25 non-refundable application fee. Visit for additional information, including key application dates, deadlines and FAQs.

A.I. to diagnose eye disease, pneumonia in La Jolla

Using artificial intelligence and machine-learning techniques, researchers at Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health and University of California San Diego School of Medicine have developed a new computational tool to screen patients with common but blinding retinal diseases, potentially speeding diagnoses and treatment.

The findings are published in the February 22 issue of Cell.

“Artificial intelligence (AI) has huge potential to revolutionize disease diagnosis and management by doing analyses and classifications involving immense amounts of data that are difficult for human experts — and doing them rapidly,” said senior author Kang Zhang, MD, PhD, professor of ophthalmology at Shiley Eye Institute and founding director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

In their new paper, Zhang and colleagues used an AI-based convolutional neural network to review more than 200,000 eye scans conducted with optical coherence tomography, a noninvasive technology that bounces light off the retina to create two- and three-dimensional representations of tissue.

The study focused on two common causes of irreversible blindness — macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema — but did not limit itself to eye diseases. The AI tool also proved useful in diagnosing childhood pneumonia, a leading cause of death worldwide in children under the age of 5, based on machine analyses of chest X-rays. They found that the computer was able to differentiate between viral and bacterial pneumonia with greater than 90 percent accuracy.

“The future is more data, more computational power and more experience of the people using this system so that we can provide the best patient care possible, while still being cost-effective,” Zhang said.

PGA Jr. League registration open

Player registration for the 2018 season of PGA Jr. League at Torrey Pines Golf Course is now open. Here, boys and girls 13 and under learn to play golf with coaching from PGA and LPGA professionals. The two-person scramble format encourages mentorship, builds confidence and promotes sportsmanship. This year, the San Diego area has 14 courses offering open enrollment. More info is available at

High-school conservation scholarships available

High-school seniors can now apply for five $1,000 college scholarships offered by the Resource Conservation District (RCD). The scholarships — offered by RCD for the 29th year — are open to all graduating seniors in San Diego County but meant to support higher education in the fields of resource conservation, environmental sciences and agriculture.

“These scholarships are ideal for students who have a real passion about resource conservation or agriculture,” says RCD executive director Sheryl Landrum. “They are not strictly academic scholarships, but also take into account the applicant’s original essay, relevant experience, and letters of recommendation.”

The deadline for online submissions is April 10. For more details, visit

Viking alumni game is March 3

Go Vikings! The 25th annual baseball alumni game, believed to be the longest-running regular event at La Jolla High School, pits former Vikings against members of the current team in a festive afternoon game. Coaches Alan Lamotte (1968-1981), Dick Huddleston (1982-1984, 1986-1989), Bob Allen (1985,1990-2003) and Gary Frank (2004-present) will participate in opening ceremonies, 12 p.m. Saturday, March 3 on the Muirlands Middle School baseball field, 1056 Nautilus St. Free to attend.