A part of the long-awaited Whale View Point Shoreline Enhancement Project began last week and is expected to be finished in mid-May: the installation of 1,100 linear feet of sidewalk and two pedestrian beach-access ramps along Coast Boulevard south of Cuvier Street.
The budget for the project is $120,000 to $150,000, said Alec Phillipp, City of San Diego public information officer.
The path work is the first structural improvement to the area since the Whale View Point project emerged from the La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJP&B) board two years ago. Construction started on the sidewalk adjacent to the Wedding Bowl (555 Coast Blvd. South) and is expected to advance south in the coming weeks.
“It’s a victory for La Jolla Parks & Beaches,” said LJP&B chair and project organizer Ann Dynes. “It’s a big deal to get the City to listen to the community, find the funds, spend the internal resources to design it, and get it done right.”
The section of the La Jolla coastline from 274 Coast Blvd. to the northern end of the Wedding Bowl, aka Whale View Point, has had different names in La Jolla history, according to Dynes. But, when LJP&B took over the project, board members decided to make the name, to the name it was referenced in the initial 1889 map of La Jolla.
The installation of the sidewalk has been a hot topic in the community, since preliminary plans didn’t involve adding more concrete along the shoreline.
“When I took over the project, I discovered that because of changing community needs for hardscape, as well as City requirements to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the only sensible thing to put in here, was a sidewalk,” Dynes said, adding, “Maybe the only legal thing.”
After heated debate, LJP&B decided to go for a six-foot sidewalk. In the final design, 100 feet in front of 375 Coast Blvd. is shown as a 4-foot-wide transition. At both sides of this section, the ADA-compliant ramps will be installed. Both ramps will have a 7.7 percent slope, handrails and concrete slabs to transition to existing infrastructure.
Some of the existing concrete benches will be relocated, Dynes said. Also, City crews will replace sunken sections of curb and gutter as needed, and damaged street panels will be replaced.
To make it all happen, LJP&B asked the City to include the sidewalk project in the capital plan priorities for La Jolla.
“For the last two years, I’ve been regularly in touch with the department designing it, and ultimately, commissioning it to be done. With help from (former City Council member) Sherri Lightner’s office, funds were identified to pay for it,” Dynes explained.
She became involved with the project while attending LJP&B meetings as a citizen. “At a meeting, two years ago, the Whale View Point Project was presented and I stood up and said, ‘That’s something I would really like to work on!’ ” Dynes recalled. She has since become a board member, and in March, became president of LJP&B.
The Whale View Point Shoreline Enhancement project has had many phases, and smaller pieces of work were completed. Among them, the beautification of the Wedding Bowl, the installation of ropes and signage to allow native vegetation to grow and the replacement of the old blue trash can lids for ones of a pale, “more natural” color.
“(So far) I’ve done what I consider the low-hanging fruit,” Dynes said, pointing out the sidewalk is the start of the structural improvements she wants to see done, along with new picnic tables. “On some of the benches the rebar is peeking through,” she added.
The initial project also included area enhancements that have been rejected by the City, such as the installation of a stencil-painted whale on the sewage pump station and the elimination of parking on the west side of the corridor.
However, Dynes told the La Jolla Light she hasn’t given up yet.
“I’m going to circle back at some point,” she said. “I’m waiting for the Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) to get underway. With a MAD, and the promise to restore the whale (painting) when it needed to be restored, the City would have to come up with another excuse for not letting me do it!”