La Jolla Community Planners green light stop sign on La Jolla Scenic Drive North

The intersection of La Jolla Scenic Drive North and Sugarman Drive in the La Jolla Heights neighborhood — smack dab in the middle of Cliffridge Park, Villa La Jolla Park and Allen Field; a block away from the Congregation ADAT Yeshurun synagogue and near the Dan McKinney Family YMCA, Montessori Institute of San Diego and Torrey Pines Elementary School — will get a new, all-way stop sign following its approval at the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) meeting Oct. 4.

The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation board, which would normally review such requests, did not meet in September and asked LJCPA to make a decision without its input. There are currently stop signs on Sugarman Drive.

Arguing that the stop sign was an immediate safety issue, LJCPA vice chair Helen Boyden presented on behalf of those who live in the area. She told the board: “According to the City, this location meets the basic warrants and qualifies for an all-way stop sign.”

Boyden added that she’s lived near the proposed location since 1969. “Over the years, we have seen an increase in traffic. This is a dangerous intersection. There have been serious accidents that damaged property. The speed limit 30 miles-per-hour, but I suspect people go faster. I do a lot of walking around the neighborhood, and lately, whether it is coming north or south, I have to wait for 10 or 12 cars to pass before it’s safe for me to cross,” she said.

On Jewish holidays, such as the recent Rosh Hashanah, one of the nearby synagogues hires crossing guards to assist those coming from nearby streets for services.

Representatives from the synagogues sent the LJCPA a letter indicating they are in full support of the all-way stop plans. Boyden read: “We believe this will greatly enhance the safety in our neighborhoods, specifically on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings when a majority of our congregants come for services.”

Residents were also in attendance to share horror stories of near-misses and dangerous conditions. For example, Shea Buckley said: “We are very certain, unfortunately, with the speed of the cars, that there is no doubt there will be injury there. You simply cannot see people as they try to cross the street.”

Another homeowner, Nozar Ravanbach, who experienced two cars crashing onto his property, distributed photos.

These residents said they reached out to the City for a traffic study to determine whether the area qualifies for additional stop signs, and meeting the criteria, the City recommended the additional stops signs.

After a brief debate as to whether the installation should go back to La Jolla Traffic & Transportation advisory group and be processed through the normal channels, the LJCPA approved the stop signs 11-2-2.

In other LJCPA news:

‘Hotel Chelsea’ denied: A project to redevelop a property on Chelsea Street in Bird Rock, after garnering approval 6-3 from the Development Permit Review committee, was denied by LJCPA.

Applicant Michael Morton sought a Coastal Development Permit for the remodel and addition to an existing two-story single dwelling unit for a total of approximately 4,332-square-feet of construction at 5251 Chelsea St., including a roof deck that could fit 38 people.

Opponents to the project argued the property would be ultimately be used as a permanent short-term vacation rental. The redevelopment includes four bedrooms, a family room, wet bar, terrace area and a small pool on the first floor; a master bedroom, dining, living and kitchen areas on the stepped back second level; and a roof deck with a hot tub.

However, Morton insisted: “The group that bought this house proposes to sell it to a family. It is not planned to be a vacation rental.” He added that the “group” is “some investors from the San Diego area.”

Still, LJCPA trustee Mike Costello argued against the project: “This is being referred to as Hotel Chelsea. This isn’t just a family home, this is a set-up. It’s a vacation rental and we all know it. We’re not against people improving their houses, but the problem is about the use. If the roof deck wasn’t there, the opposition would go away. If you look at the hot tub and wet bar, this looks like a party house.”

LJCPA trustee Dave Gordon said he sympathized with neighbors worried about “vacation rentals gone wild,” but remined fellow board members “that’s not really something in our purview. We can’t turn down a project because it has the possibility of being used as a vacation rental.”

Additional concerns were raised regarding whether the project is consistent with others in the neighborhood, roof treatments and whether it meets terms of the La Jolla Community Plan. All said, LJCPA determined findings could not be made for the requested permits, 12-2-1.

Restroom pavilion approval: A motion to waive the summer construction moratorium to accommodate construction on the Scripps Park Restroom Pavilion was approved unanimously. Project plans call for demolishing the existing toilet and shower facility and constructing a new, two-building “comfort station” that includes unisex toilets, benches, outdoor showers, ADA-compliant toilets and indoor showers, and storage for beach equipment. Work is expected to break ground at the beginning of 2019 and be complete in 2020.

Ad-hoc committee set: LJCPA president Bob Steck appointed members to an ad-hoc committee formed to address the Playa del Norte parking, at the request of District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry.

Bry sought the ad-hoc committee after LJCPA and La Jolla Town Council voted in direct opposition to each other on whether to keep the two contentious 15-minute parking spaces at the foot of Playa del Norte, where it meets Neptune Place. Since the parking spaces were installed, residents of a nearby condo complex report drivers coming the wrong way up a one-way street to loop around and access those spaces.

The committee is tasked with finding design alternatives that would deter the wrong-way driving.

The LJCPA appointees are Glen Rasmussen, Jim Neri and Patrick Ahern. The committee will be chaired by John Shannon because he sits on both the LJCPA and the Town Council. Additional appointees will come from the condo complex and Town Council.

Night work double take: At its next meeting, LJCPA will take another look at its vote to have Torrey Pines Road Slope Restoration Project work be done at night. The board previously voted unanimously to request the work be done at night to deter traffic backups, after hearing from local merchants concerned about business losses due to traffic.

Unlike the construction that preceded it with the Torrey Pines Road Corridor Project, the work would be restricted to the slope area on Torrey Pines Road between Roseland Place and Viking Way.

“I’m wondering if the merchants’ concerns about traffic would still be legitimate because there would still be two lanes of traffic open,” noted LJCPA trustee Glen Rasmussen. “During this project, (I think) we will have two lanes open in each direction, so what would be the impact? Why not do it during the day when the noise impact would not be as great?”

LJCPA trustee Dan Courtney, who advocated for day work at past meetings, added: “We are not a proxy for the La Jolla Village Merchants Association, the Town Council or any other group. We have a responsibility to represent the community at-large and the residents. What we need to do here is really find out the details of this project and not just vote because the merchants are complaining. We need to do our work and make sure we do it in a responsible way.”

While the topic will be on the LJCPA agenda next month, it is not known whether the road work will have begun by then, and at what time of day.

LJCPA next meets 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollacpa.org

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