Mayor stands by stanchions in La Jolla: ‘There will be no changes’


San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is standing by his decision to keep the controversial stanchions in place to block any parking at the foot of Playa del Norte where it meets Neptune Place. Speaking for the Mayor’s office, representative Anthony George offered the possible last word Jan. 30, announcing by e-mail to the parties involved: “There will be no changes to the site as it sits.”

The divisive situation has been discussed at community meetings for more than a year.

First, a set of stanchions was installed to outline a striped no-parking zone, at the request of residents irked by people parking over the striping, and allegedly engaging in drug use and disruptive behavior.

Next, the stanchions were removed at the request of City Council member Barbara Bry, who implemented a pilot program to test two, 15-minute parking spaces at the site so beach-goers could pull-up, view the surf and/or unload equipment. However, this posed a potential “attractive nuisance” due to drivers proceeding the wrong way on a one-way street to make a U-turn to access the spaces.

At the conclusion of the pilot program, the stanchions were reinstated by a decree from the Mayor’s office, and a La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) sub-committee convened to come up with an alternative. Their proposal included the installation of three, one-hour parking spaces facing away from the ocean that could be accessed only from Neptune Place. The subcommittee presented its findings at the Jan. 3 LJCPA meeting, and garnered approval from the board.

With the LJCPA vote to support this proposal, the sub-committee submitted it to the Mayor’s office for consideration.

Responding to the sub-committee, George denied the plan, explaining by e-mail: “I asked staff to review your proposal as I know there was a lot of time and energy put behind it. … While this option does eliminate the wrong-way driving issue, it brings other risks, such as backing vehicles (either exiting or entering the stalls) conflicting with northbound traffic on Neptune with limited sight distance. As it stands, there will be no changes to the site as it sits.”

Beach-access proponent Melinda Merryweather, who advocated for the stanchions’ removal, told La Jolla Light: “I am so disappointed that the City of San Diego has such a disregard for beach-view corridors and (ocean) access. As for now, I will ask for and fight for, on behalf of the community, that since the parking spaces have been removed, the stanchions should be removed as well, since there is no reason for them; they are ugly and are in a view corridor. As for the future, when we are our own city, there will be parking there, as we will honor beach access and views as do (the cities of) Coronado and Del Mar.”

Fellow beach-access advocate Glen Rasmussen, who served on the sub-committee that drafted the proposal, added via email, “The area at the foot of the one-way (toward the beach) Playa Del Norte at Neptune comprises arguably the best street-side public view of the break at Windansea. You look right at it. For decades, surfers, sunset-watchers and the general public were able to enjoy the views from that area by pulling over in their cars when a set came, or to stop and see the green flash.”

As such, Rasmussen said he would still like to see an alternative implemented. “I am not a traffic engineer, but contrary to what Mr. George states, there appears to be ample room on the revised plan for cars to back out without interfering with cars on Neptune, similar to the parking in Bird Rock with far less traffic. There are ample sight lines in both directions. Emails from the Mayor’s office ... indicate that they are simply tired of dealing with this issue,” he wrote. “There are plenty of citizens, including the Surfrider Foundation, who are waiting to see if a reasonable alternative to these bollards (aka stanchions) can still be implemented.”