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La Jolla Parks & Beaches board nixes ‘Art in the Park’ plan

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Artist Mika de la Cruz of the Spanish Village presented this image to La Jolla Parks & Beaches during its Sept. 23 meeting as an example of what his ‘Art in the Park’ plan could look like.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

With the vending-in-the-park elephant in the room at the La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJP&B) advisory group meeting Sept. 23 at the Rec Center, the board voted to deny a permit for a planned “Art in the Park” event in Scripps Park.

LJP&B has recently taken up the Citywide fight against vending in beachside parks that was legalized through the passage of Senate Bill 946 (see below for more).

And though the event was touted as one not focused on selling, but on environmental awareness and outreach for the Spanish Village art community, the board could not authorize what they considered another “vendor” in the park.

Mika de la Cruz, an artist who shows at the Spanish Village in Balboa Park, presented his plans for a Nov. 2 art show intended to “create environmental awareness through art.”

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He explained: “We want to work with this board to create a better and brighter tomorrow, and the only possible way to do that is by engaging the next generation about protecting our Mother (Earth). We have 15 artists from Spanish Village ... who have signed on to participate.”

The one-day pop-up show would have showcased artists working in various media, whose mission is to use their art to promote environmental awareness.

However, when asked if the art would be for sale, de la Cruz said: “The plan for us is to just show our art, but we don’t know if someone is going to want to buy anything or not.”

“So the art is for sale?” posed trustee Debbie Beacham.

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“Yes” he responded.

Beacham replied: “So it’s basically an art gallery for you and your artists.”

LJP&B trustee Sally Miller added: “I can’t imagine the artists are going to come all this way without the purpose of selling ... this smacks of vending to me.”

Nancy Scheuermann, executive director for the Village Art and Education Foundation at Spanish Village, noted the event would be open to the public and not close-off any area of the park.

“Spanish Village is a group of 200 artists who are given great privileges by the City of San Diego to work and show in Spanish Village, and with those privileges, our mission is to show our art, and the sale of art is at the bottom of our mission,” she said. “Our mission is to do outreach … and this is under the cover of our outreach.”

Undeterred, Beacham said: “Everyone wants to sell something and there is no better gallery than Scripps Park. I don’t want to see Scripps Park become a vending place. My concern is we are opening a door.”

However, the applicants argued the door may already have been opened. De la Cruz said he has been selling his art in Scripps Park “in recent weeks” with the passage of SB 946, and sees first-hand the benefit to having such a beautiful backdrop for showing art.

Others expressed concern about the timing. With the slew of other fall events in La Jolla, some board members worried it was too much back-to-back.

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Trustee John Shannon pointed out: “We have the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival Oct. 12-13 along Girard Avenue. We have the Challenged Athletes Foundation event on Oct. 20 in Scripps Park. Now you are asking for Nov. 2, so there is not a break.”

A motion to deny the request for a special event permit passed 11-3-2.

Also at LJP&B

Sidewalk vending: Following the passage of SB 946 in 2018, the board has been outspoken in its concerns about vendors in La Jolla’s parks.

The San Diego City Council’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee met in July to draft local regulations to limit vending near parks (LJP&B vice-chair Bob Evans spoke in favor of adding more La Jolla streets to the areas in which vending is not permitted).

Among the recommendations, District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry asked for an amendment to prohibit selling in Scripps Park year-round due to the harbor seal pupping season in Children’s Pool, narrowness of the sidewalks along the La Jolla coastline and year-round pedestrian traffic.

Although a final draft of the regulations was planned to be heard by the full City Council in September, a date was never set for the Council to hear the new sidewalk vending ordinance.

Now it is expected to be heard in October.

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Bry’s field rep Mauricio Medina told the board: “The latest update I got from the Mayor’s office is they are working on outreach to (what would be) the affected vendors and other stakeholders for this ordinance, to get their input on the proposed regulations that passed through committee before the proposal makes its way to the full City Council.”

Bathroom break: Construction on a new restroom facility in Scripps Park, while underway, has hit a snag.

Project organizer Judy Adams Halter told the board: “Apparently, there have been some plumbing issues, and (construction crews) are trying not to put the Bridge Club out of service, so they are analyzing different ways to handle this issue. So the project is on hold for a bit while they figure this out.”

The project provides for the design and construction of a replacement “comfort station,” aka restroom facility, in Scripps Park adjacent to La Jolla Cove. The project also includes the demolition of the existing comfort station and installation of associated paths of travel improvements. Fencing and temporary toilets were brought to the site in August, and construction was slated to last 440 working days.

Retaining wall appeal: Following the City Council decision that a 30-inch retaining wall at Children’s Pool will remain, LJP&B trustee Ken Hunrichs said he and other beach-access advocates would appeal the decision to the California Coastal Commission.

“It’s unfortunate that our City Council representative opposed every community group in La Jolla,” he said. “(Bry) took on the role of cheerleader (for the project).”

La Jolla’s Development Permit Review committee voted against the wall because they disagreed with the City’s assertion that it was necessary, and that the project conforms to the terms of a permit issued in 2012. One month later, La Jolla Community Planning Association ratified the findings.

La Jolla Parks & Beaches next meets 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollaparksbeaches.com


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