Shores merchants rail against City construction timetable

Nader Hamdan, owner of a vacation rental in the La Jolla Shores Business District faced City of San Diego senior engineer Steve Lindsay during the Nov. 9 meeting of the La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) about the ongoing construction in the area. “I’m afraid that something is going to crack in the building, that’s how stressed out I am right now,” Hamdan said.

On Nov. 7, area businesses staged a sit-in to protest the City’s lack of accountability during the infrastructure work along Avenida de la Playa, which resumed Nov. 3 for the third consecutive year. “We’ve been cool for two years, just get it done, you can’t stop infrastructure. But now we are getting a little bit more sensitive,” said LJSA trustee Angie Preisendorfer.

Lindsay promised the board that the main part of the “re-”construction will be done by Friday, Dec. 2. “Initially, we were going to repave everything and make everything look good, but to get out as soon as possible we are leaving Dec. 2, and then we can come back to that section anytime beginning in January.”

That comprises Phase 1 of a four-phase project that will have the streets of the Shores under construction for part of 2017. Phase 3 involves building protections on the storm drains uphill so debris and vegetation don’t easily enter the system. The City plans to use existing easements to “maintain” the existing infrastructure. “We are researching that, but there are environmental concerns, because the hilly areas are the pristine areas for wildlife, that’s where the breeding happens, birds are nested there, there’s environmental concerns,” Lindsay explained.

The goal of Phase 2 and Phase 4 is to install a baffle box on Avenida de la Playa that will divert some of the contaminants during smaller storm events and low flow. That part of the project, Lindsay said, can extend into the summer moratorium (Memorial Day-Labor Day) because it will be done in a La Jolla Shores Drive median.

Business owner Hamdan, who owns the Las Casitas rental on Avenida de la Playa, said he had received calls from tenants who reported banging and shaking on the walls. “I have people cancelling left and right, I have lost thousands of dollars … this is a disaster for me, just so you know what I’m facing.”

In other Shores Board news

Boardwalk talk: Following the Nov. 3 front page story in La Jolla Light, “Trustees advocate for Shores boardwalk replacement,” LJSA members expressed their desire for action to keep the momentum going.

Chair Nick LeBeouf read a communication he received from San Diego Park & Rec manager Dan Daneri indicating the boardwalk had been assessed in 2003 and was given low priority because it was in “good shape overall.” He added that another assessment will be performed by the City later this year.

“Maintenance is done in an as-needed basis; the Park & Rec Department has repaired cracks and deviations from time to time,” LeBeouf continued.

Trustee Mary Coakley-Munk, president of Friends of La Jolla Shores, introduced the idea of making the boardwalk an educational infrastructure, which could help raise awareness and open certain funding sources. “California State Coastal Conservancy will get involved in something like that if it’s educational. We could work with Birch Aquarium and Scripps Institution of Oceanography and figure out something for kids and adults to learn. There are lots of things that can be done,” she said. Board members welcomed the idea.

Because The Shores boardwalk was hit by the higher El Niño tides last winter, that presented a worry for board members interested in the improvement project. Daneri’s communication stated, “No one knows if it’s built to withstand the King tides, but it held up structurally last year.”

But Munk countered, “How high do we want that wall to be? At some point it’s going to be useless anyway.”

Trustees volunteered to form a subcommittee dedicated to the boardwalk replacement/renewal project to keep wheels turning.

Beach lockers: Trustee Izzy Tihanyi said a series of robberies had occured in the Kellogg Park parking lot. “Surfers are being preyed upon. This has always happened, but now it’s getting worse because everybody has an electric car key,” she said.

Tihanyi proposed that the board study the possibility of installing lockers as a safe space where beach-goers can lock up their keys and other valuables before hitting the surf.

LJSA next meets 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14 at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Martin Johnston House, 8840 Biological Grade. ljsa.org

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