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A fence for Bandera Street path? La Jolla Parks & Beaches board debates 6- and 4-foot options

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The current post-and-chain designed to keep walkers from the edge of the cliff at the Bandera Street path.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Just over a year after the Bandera Street view access was reopened for public use, the City is proposing a six-foot fence along the bluff edge for safety.

With pros and cons discussed Aug. 26 at the La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJP&B) advisory group meeting in the Rec Center, the board voted to recommend the City install a four-foot fence (if one is absolutely necessary) instead.

For eight years, the path off Bandera Street was closed by way of two chain-link fences — one at the entrance from the street and one where it opens up to a bluff. But residents rallied to have the fences taken down and the access restored.

In March 2018, a guardrail was posted on the street side of the path and a short post-and-chain fence was erected on the bluff side. Now, in the interest of safety, the City is recommending a fence (design to be determined) on the bluff side.

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Upon hearing this, Bird Rock Overlooks Committee member Trent Wagenseller sought approval for the lower model. “At the south end of La Jolla — along overlooks such as those on Linda Way, Midway, Moss Lane and Bird Rock Avenue — three to four feet for fencing is the standard,” he said. “It protects the view and enhances safety at each of those areas. But safety has to be the No. 1 priority, so safety warnings should be posted.”

Wagenseller distributed Photoshopped images to demonstrate the difference between a four-foot fence and six-foot fence and how the latter would impact views for an average-sized person. “A six-foot fence would just obliterate the view,” he said.

LJP&B trustee Melinda Merryweather said the images presented were very “telling” and opined: “I’m worried that this is going to happen more and more, and we are going to be fenced-in at six feet all the way around. Our view corridors are so important, our views to the ocean are so important. We live in a community by the sea, and I think it is up to this board to protect our views to the ocean.”

Fellow trustee Judy Adams Halter agreed, saying it would be “horrible” to have a six foot fence.

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Representing the residents who live on either side of the path, attorney Matt Peterson argued that while Bandera Street itself is a view corridor, the path in question stemming from it, is not, so the fencing would be appropriate. (In the La Jolla Community Plan, Bandera Street is labeled: “Unimproved portion of dedicated street off of Calumet Avenue. Fence at entrance and at bluff edge. Steep cliff at end of easement. No access to beach.”)

Peterson said the City has to install the fencing because “a bunch of drunk people and idiots go out and sit on the bluff edge,” and he presented photos of the conditions now that the path has reopened, which included people trespassing onto his client’s property, a “creepy guy” looking at one of the residents from the path, and an increase in drug use.

LJP&B trustee John Leek said that any fencing would be a violation of the Coastal Act because it would limit access, even view access, to the ocean for the public. “As soon as you close something off in the name of public safety, every other questionable access is at risk,” he said. “There should never be a closure for a reason like that. It makes look as though we are trying to shut out the public and keep the views privatized.”

The board unanimously voted against any fence at all, but if one is required, it be no more than four feet tall.

Also at LJP&B

Whale wonders: The City of San Diego is looking to host a family-friendly “Celebration of Whales,” intended to focus on conservation, March 21, 2020 in Scripps Park. Different environmental groups, such as the Surfrider Foundation and Wildcoast, are reportedly on board to partner with the City on this event.

Shoreline Parks Ranger Araceli Dominguez said in her presentation to the board: “I <FZ,1,0,13>noticed there is a lack of knowledge about the division of Shoreline Parks and what we do. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to showcase our department and celebrate the migration of whales along our coast.”

The biggest part of the event, she predicted, would be the presence of the “Whale-Mobile,” a life-sized inflatable whale that is an educational resource for children. Without casting a formal vote, the board voiced its support for the event.

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Trail trimming: LJP&B voted to support Friends of Coast Walk Trail in its effort to obtain a permit to conduct vegetation trimming along the trail, particularly where it meets Coast Walk Street. Currently, there are some bushes that have overgrown to the point that the ocean view is diminished.

Brenda Fake, president of Friends of Coast Walk Trail, said the group previously had right-of-entry permit to conduct the work, but the permit was terminated, and she would like to have it reinstated. “It looks like crap, we agree with that,” she said. “But we raise the money to clean it up every year. Once we have our permit, we promise we will address the trimming there.”

The board voted to support the Friends getting their permit back, and also voted to send a letter asking the City to trim the bushes.

Benches subcommittee: In partnership with LJP&B trustee Jane Reldan, resident Doug Burleigh looked into replacing some of the slats across park benches with natural-looking plastic slats that would be less subject to splintering or wear-and-tear. However, the board has yet to take action on fundraising or execution.

As such, the board voted to create a Benches Subcommittee to determine what it would like to see implemented and on which benches. The benches were previously maintained by “one woman committee” Ester Viti, who passed away in 2015. Viti began organizing La Jolla’s memorial bench program and the coastal bench program in the late 1990s, interacting with donors and helping get memorial plaques and seats installed.

New Lorax Tree: Although still “in discussion mode,” the potential of replacing the so-called Lorax Tree in Scripps Park (a Monterey Cypress) in kind may not happen. LJP&B vice-chair Bob Evans reported that based on communications with the City, planting another Monterey Cypress would require too much maintenance.

“The latest is, we brainstormed ideas, but the City is suggesting a Torrey Pine because it will grow faster and require less care than a Monterey Cypress,” he said. “It’s still in discussion mode. The good news is they want to get something done.” On June 13, the tree (long incorrectly believed to have inspired children’s book author Dr. Seuss to write “The Lorax”) toppled, and was soon removed by the City.

— La Jolla Parks & Beaches next meets 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollaparksbeaches.org


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