La Jolla Shores Association supports Princess Street beach access

The La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) board at its March 12 meeting approved a motion to support the California Coastal Commission (CCC) in its quest to reopen public beach access on Princess Street.

The access lane has been closed off for decades, pending a legal battle between the adjacent property owner Ure Kretowicz and the CCC. In 2016, the California Supreme Court rejected an appeal, ending the quarrel, and the CCC confirmed to La Jolla Light in January that easement documents had been filed.

“It’s over. Now we just have to find someone to take the responsibility, the insurance and all that,” said beach-access advocate Melinda Merryweather.

The rocky beach, which sits under a 55-foot natural bluff, is disconnected most of the time from the main sandy beach of the area, La Jolla Shores, but may be accessed during low tide. Merryweather explained that many beach-goers find themselves stranded at the pocket beach when the tide comes up. “It’s a really dangerous place, I’ve been trapped there before, and I know a lot of people have been trapped there — kayakers, surfers, divers,” she explained, adding that a neighbor used to throw a rope down to rescue those who couldn’t get out.

San Diego Lifeguard Sgt. Travis Gleason said more research was needed on the topic, and added that he generally approves of increasing public access to the beach. “I’m in favor of opening up as much of our coastline as possible, so people can go down and recreate, and have a good time on our coastline,” he explained.

However, Gleason also warned board members that in other areas of San Diego, isolated pocket beaches promote illegal behaviors.

“You just have to go down to Ocean Beach and get an example of what that looks like (at Sunset Cliffs). Typically, we have a pocket beach that’s easily accessible, yet isolated, where you’re going to see an increase in drinking, using drugs,” he reported.

LJSA trustee Dede Donovan expressed concerns about the safety of the pathway. Merryweather replied that “it didn’t use to be (dangerous),” but time and lack of use have eroded a section of the once-popular beach access. “We need some wooden stairs, the same kind of stairs that they have at Torrey Pines to walk up from the beach,” she added.

In other Shores news:

Lifeguard report: Sgt. Gleason provided the latest Shores beach attendance numbers, which according to the Lifeguard Service amounted to 200,000 visitors since March.

“Spring break is pretty much all spring now,” he joked. During that time, lifeguards performed 35 rescues, 11 cliff rescues, two serious medical aids and 52 moderate medical aids at The Shores beach.

Ardath Road street lights: Trustee Brian Earley gave Shores resident Nancy Lo the latest news on her request to add more lampposts along her street, Ardath Road, during his report on the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation committee. Earley claimed there weren’t enough lights along the road and she felt uneasy walking there at night.

“Our chair, Dave Abrams, pointed (Lo) in the direction of a (City) traffic engineer, and they did an evaluation on her street; they moved really quickly,” Earley began, and then he proceeded to read the e-mail response the City sent him: “The location qualifies for four additional street lights that will be installed when funding becomes available.” Following general laughter in the room, Earley outlined ways in which funding could become available for a project like this.

“Currently, the City of San Diego has $39 million of unfunded street light projects,” he read, “Funding is limited and targeted toward places that have been categorized as first priority locations. First priority locations consist of intersection of public streets, mid-walk crosswalks, public facilities, tunnels, pedestrian bridges, sharp curbs and cul-de-sacs or dead-end streets.”

Ardath Road is a dead-end street, so trustees encouraged Lo to let City staff know her street should be included among the priority locations.

10 years for Fall Fest: The annual Fall Fest, which welcomes The Shores community to a Halloween treat-or-trick journey around Avenida de la Playa, will celebrate its 10th event this year. To commemorate the occasion, La Jolla Shores Business Association chair Angie Preisendorfer proposed requesting a street closure for the first time.

“We want to make it much safer and kid-friendly, so children can cross the street between store and store with treats,” she said. A motion to support the request will be discussed at next month’s meeting.

— LJSA next meets 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 10 at 8840 Biological Grade.