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Parks & Beaches discusses scooter corrals, holds off on vote

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(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Joining the list of La Jolla community groups that have heard and weighed in on the proposed locations for scooter corrals the City plans to install around town, the La Jolla Parks & Beaches group discussed the idea during its June 24 meeting at the Rec Center.

City staff is seeking feedback on locations for these corrals, which dedicate space on the street, often fronting red zones, for the staging of electric scooters. New citywide electric scooter regulations went into effect July 1, but District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry’s rep Mauricio Medina said the City had committed to not installing any corrals in La Jolla until the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) makes a decision about locations during its July 18 meeting.

The intent of the corrals, Medina said, is to discourage users from leaving the scooters haphazardly in the public right-of-way. “The goal is to have more corrals on the street so there are fewer scooters on the sidewalks,” he said.

Representing LJP&B, trustee Janet Stratford-Collins participated in a working group to review the list of City recommendations for The Village, and whittled it down from 100-plus to about 71, and added 10 of their own suggestions. She told the board: “I applaud the City for giving the communities the chance to weigh in on what we want with these corrals. We have all had problems with the scooters and the City is giving us the opportunity to provide input.”

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Several in the audience questioned what manner of enforcement there would be for riders and companies that do not comply, and Medina explained, “There is no mechanism right now.”

As such, several on the board and the audience argued the system “just isn’t going to work,” and suggested not approving any of the locations.

Because there will be no corrals until after July 18, Medina explained come July 1, when new regulations go into effect, the so-called “four-by-40 rule” will be in effect. Under this regulation, operators can only stage four devices per area, separated by 40 feet.

“So we’ll get a glimpse of how that works,” Medina said. “There are going to be growing pains, I’m sure, so we will get a period of how the four-by-40 regulations work going into the Community Planning Association meeting.”

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The board ultimately decided not to vote on the locations, but instead suggested that those with an opinion contact the LJCPA ahead of its July 18 meeting: info@lajollacpa.org or attend the 6 p.m. July 18 meeting at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

Other local groups that have held similar forums include the La Jolla Town Council, which voted to reject the list the City proposed; the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation board, which did not make a recommendation; and the La Jolla Recreation Advisory Group.

Also at LJP&B

Park Comfort Station: To a cautiously optimistic board, Medina said construction would “tentatively” begin on the new Scripps Park Pavilion on July 8.

“I say tentative, because contractors have given us dates before, but they are aiming for July 8,” he said.

Two trustees interjected with “what year?” John Shannon noted this was not the first time the City provided a start date — or month — but did not begin on that date.

Project volunteer and trustee Patrick Ahern said there have been “complex issues” along the way, but that, “According to the project engineer, a pre-construction meeting is scheduled for the first week of July, and the issuance for the notice to proceed, which starts the clock on construction, will be issued five days later, so we know the clock will start soon.”

The board voted to approve a summer construction moratorium waiver to accommodate this project earlier this year, and Medina said crews will be doing what they can to mitigate impacts over the summer.

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The project would demolish the existing restroom facility and construct a new “comfort station” with unisex toilet stalls, shower and storage facilities. Construction is expected to last 440 days. Should construction proceed on schedule, the new facility would be open in fall 2020.

‘Lorax’ tree: Following the death of a tree in Scripps Park believed to be connected to children’s author Dr. Seuss, the board is looking into their role in replacing the tree, ideally with something similar. Acting chair Bob Evans said: “Personally, I’d like to see something go in over the next few months” and noted the board could partner with the City to explore tree options, and could contribute funding to make the replacement a public-private partnership.

Following the brief discussion, a working group formed to explore options and report back at a future meeting.

The Monterey cypress fell in Scripps Park the morning of June 13, and has been long-believed to have inspired Seuss to write “The Lorax.”

Metate letter: The board previously voted to draft a letter to representatives from two native tribes, and members of applicable City departments, apologizing for its role in the removal of a metate (aka bedrock mortar), as part of a LJP&B sidewalk construction project. Native Americans used bedrock mortars as grinding stones, and the La Jolla mortar has been described as a touchstone to connect tribes to the coast.

The letter reads in part: “LJP&B expresses regret for the discomfort your tribes and tribal members have felt regarding the removal and storage of this artifact. Until the recent events, we were ignorant as to its cultural connections. Through this situation, we have learned that resources like this not only may have archaeological value, but especially that they have ongoing traditional and cultural value for local tribes. We will be more vigilant in future projects to identify and respect tribal values and artifacts.”

The metate was moved to accommodate the sidewalk construction, without input from local tribes, and has been stored in a City storage facility ever since. The decision as to where to re-locate it has not been made.

The letter continues: “We offer our complete support for implementing a tribally driven solution for the relocation of this artifact along the coast, including a location close to from where the mortar was removed. This reinstallation could include an appropriate historical/educational marker if so desired by you and permitted by the City, as well as an appropriate ceremony to commemorate its return to the coast. We would welcome the opportunity to celebrate a resolution completely satisfactory to you of this misunderstanding.”

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Although the board voted to send the letter, some members felt the letter was “too apologetic.” Trustee Dan Allen opined: “I don’t see why this organization is apologizing on behalf of the La Jolla community when the omission (to consult with tribes) was from City staff.”

Trustee Ken Hunrichs added: “I think we are bending over backwards.” All said, a motion to approve sending the letter passed 11-1-0.

— La Jolla Parks & Beaches next meets 4 p.m. Monday, July 22 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollaparksbeaches.org


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