Shores board prepares for summer tourist season: Police describe rules, enforcement plans

As Memorial Day approaches, the proverbial kick-off to summer, the La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) is preparing for the influx of illegal summertime activities that plague Kellogg Park — slacklining, overnight camping in the park and/or tents with more than two sides down and smoking in the park. In terms of whether the enforcement needed to regulate these activities is available, the LJSA board is less than comforted.

Signs are now posted in the park outlining the regulations in parks, beaches, walkways and parking lots: dogs prohibited 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (allowed other times, and always on leash), no alcohol, no glass containers, no smoking, no overnight camping and no loud music. There are also no beach fires from midnight to 5 a.m.

Park Ranger Rich Belesky and San Diego police officers Larry Hesselgesser and Steve Waldenheim attended the board’s April 11 meeting on the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus to discuss the summer safety issues.

Addressing slacklining (an activity where a rope or strip of webbing is stretched and tied to two fixtures — sometimes trees — and walked across), LJSA member Terry Krazewski said she has seen trees get damaged in the process and witnessed pedestrians paying more attention to the horizon than the park, and been caught by the neck on these ropes.

Members report that as the weather has warmed up, slacklining has returned to the park, almost daily.

According to San Diego Municipal Code, slacklining is prohibited in “All beaches on the Pacific Ocean and adjacent parks and perimeter sidewalks between the southern boundary of Sunset Cliffs Natural Park and the northern boundary of Torrey Pines Park.”

However, whether rangers will ticket these slackliners, Belesky said: “(When we tell people to take down the slackline), non-compliance is rare. But if rangers don’t get compliance, they can take things a step farther. We can issue citations, we can get police involved, there are a number of options. The mandate is, if it is needed, we can cite. It is up to the ranger.”

LJSA member Sharon Luscomb argued that if more citations were issued, it would give the regulation some teeth. However, Belesky added rangers only work until 5 p.m., and only sometimes on weekends, and these activities often take place on weekends and after normal work hours.

Another issue that arises during the summer months is people having tents in the park with all four sides down, which is prohibited. But it is questionable whether the San Diego Police Department has the resources to do anything to impact the offense.

Community Relations Officer Hesselgesser explained: “The big issue we’ve had in the last three to five years has been the type of enforcement, based on how many officers we have. (Our focus) becomes more about keeping the peace. We’re not going to have officers taking down tents if it becomes a security issue in which the officer could get hurt and not have backup. We don’t want people getting into a fight with us over a ticket with a bunch of people around. Those are things we have to weigh, when we have a tent explosion on holiday weekends (Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day). Other than that, we will enforce what we can, but we are still understaffed.”

As an associated issue, especially during long holiday weekends, is closing the gates to the Kellogg Park parking lot. Parking is prohibited from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily, yet unless the gates are closed and locked, that message does not come across. In past years, the gates were locked to discourage people from parking in the lot to set up the night before and have a prime (albeit illegal) camping spot.

Lt. Waldenheim said he only recently became aware of the issue, and would work with City Council representatives to identify funding to pay for staff to lock the gates.

However, it was noted that this year’s La Jolla Fireworks display was canceled due to lack of funding, so the board is unsure how this will affect attendance that weekend.

In other LJSA news:

New member seated: With one open seat on the board, La Jolla Shores resident Charles Brown agreed to serve and was seated at the meeting.

Officers elected: The follow members were nominated for officer positions: Janie Emerson as chair, Susan Tschirn as vice president, Angie Preisendorfer as corresponding secretary, Brian Earley as recording secretary and John Sheridan as treasurer. The slate was approved.

Future outreach: Emerson said that LJSA was in the “mode of recreating ourselves” by increasing community outreach efforts. “We would like to revisit the idea of starting early for a happy hour- type thing. We’re also looking to bring speakers into the meetings — including new business owners. I’d like to make our meetings more inclusive like we used to do,” she said. Anyone with ideas is encouraged to attend the next meeting and provide their suggestions.

LJSA next meets 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 9 at Martin Johnson House on the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus, 8840 Biological Grade.

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