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La Jolla Parks & Beaches adopts coastal overlooks inventory

La Jolla coastal overlook sea lane
The beach access at Sea Lane is one of the locations identified in the Coastal Overlooks Inventory and Photo Record, drafted by some members of the LJP&B board.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

After months of data collection in late 2018, and months of revisions and finessing earlier this year, the controversial coastal overlooks inventory and accompanying photo catalog were approved by the La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJP&B) advisory group, during its May 20 meeting at the Rec Center.

Volunteers Melinda Merryweather and Mary Lynn Hyde produced the inventory and photo record.

Broken into two votes, the board decided to accept 1) the coastal overlooks inventory, which includes a list of La Jolla’s view accesses from La Jolla Farms to Tourmaline and suggested maintenance for them; and 2) the photo record book of all the images that depict their condition as of now, with captions taken from the La Jolla Community Plan.

It was a tumultuous process from the beginning.

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“When we set out to write the inventory, we looked at what needed to be done and created a maintenance list, such as trimming vegetation or replacing a storm drain. Both small things and big things were included,” Merryweather said.

But when the inventory and the photo record were published in January, residents who live near these overlooks came forward with concerns. Some called the recommended maintenance an “invasion of private property rights” and others called the descriptions inaccurate.

After some heavy editing, the final version of the inventory was submitted to the board for approval. LJP&B voted — with one objection by Jane Reldan — to accept the list. From here, the board will continue to monitor these overlooks and include overlooks maintenance on the list of City-funded projects it requests each year. (The City asks for the list in the fall, to potentially be funded the following year.)

“We’ve had amazingly good luck with that list and getting things done,” chair Ann Dynes said. “So, hopefully, these additions will have the same success.”

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But the board had a heavy debate over how to proceed with the photo record.

Representing the office of City Council District 1, Mauricio Medina advised that the photographic record and its captions be submitted to the Planning Department for comment, a notion Dynes supported.

“We had a lot of back-and-forth with homeowners about this,” she said. “Once we adopt this as a LJP&B document, it would be our responsibility. If the captions (and the information therein) are found not to be correct, we would be the ones responsible. There is no question this has been vetted to the max … but maybe we’ll get feedback from the Planning Department.”

Potential accuracy issues include areas being identified as “dedicated,” which would carry certain responsibilities and regulations.

However, Hyde objected to Planning Department feedback because that would mean “one more delay” toward adoption. “This was originally published in January, then someone questioned the captions, so we made it letter-for-letter the same as the descriptions in the La Jolla Community Plan. I don’t know what the Planning Department would find. Why are we delaying this?”

Addressing just the photographic catalog, Dynes moved to adopt the record and send it to the Planning Department for comment.

But before a second on the motion could be made, Merryweather interjected: “I don’t even think we need to do that! My motion is to just approve this. We are just literally giving you pictures of the beach accesses. We are not trying to change the world.”

A vote to approve the photographic record and submit it to the Planning Department for comment failed, and a counter motion to approve the photographic record as presented passed 10-3-1.

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Speaking from the audience, reisdent Gail Forbes opined: “You are making an impatient decision by proceeding with haste. I’m sure it doesn’t seem like haste to you, but I would hate to see it undermined when the City gets a hold of it (after you approve it) and comes back and should have included this or not included that. Your work would be thrown into a maelstrom of discussion and debate.

“Whereas if you take it to the City and let them come back to you and not the public at large — and you can make corrections — you would be asking the City to proceed with some due diligence. It’s a wonderful document and I think it is accurate, but I urge you to be patient and I really think you should have supported the motion (to send the photo record to the Planning Department).”

However, LJP&B trustee Sally Miller commented: “If we wait for the City, it could be decades before we get a response. If the City gets this and does come back to us, we can make corrections then.”

Also at La Jolla Parks & Beaches

Scooters booted from Bike Path: In the wake of the City approving new regulations on motorized scooters — which are slated to go into effect this summer — trustee Miller said the Fay Avenue Bike Path has become inundated with these vehicles. She asked that the City install signs on both ends of the bike path indicating motorized vehicles, including scooters, are prohibited. The path runs between Camino de la Costa in Bird Rock to Nautilus Street in The Village, parallel to La Jolla Boulevard.

Princess Street Trail: Environmental Center of San Diego project leader Pam Heatherington said work should begin in the coming weeks to reinstate the Princess Street coastal access trail. There is currently a gate leading to what will be the path — a remnant from when there was a public access trail decades ago — and in the next few weeks, a clearly delineated walkway from the street to the gate will be installed.

“Then we will come in and do some brush cutting and survey the area, and then the design people will come in,” Heatherington said. “Our idea is natural and sustainable, we don’t want to take any fill out of there, so that is how we are directing the design.”

Vending rules letter: The board voted to approve a letter drafted by trustee Bob Evans to propose regulations in light of SB 946, dubbed the “Safe Sidewalk Vending Act.” Following the Act’s passage, some board members said they’ve seen an increase in sidewalk vendors in La Jolla’s parks, and wanted to recommend local regulations to curb them.

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“This letter is a compilation of what I think applies here … pulled from regulations that have been applied up and down the state,” Evans said. “I would like to send this to the City Attorney’s office, City Council office and the Mayor’s office. I think we are asking for a lot, but this is at least going to start the dialogue.”

The letter would also be circulated to other community groups for review, and those that wish to sign their names to it will be invited to do so.

La Jolla Parks & Beaches next meets, 4 p.m. Monday, June 24 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollaparksbeaches.org


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