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Kellogg Park ‘Map’ project in La Jolla appeal forces further delays

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The ‘Map of the Grand Canyons of La Jolla Educational Plaza’ is in development at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s former, emptied Southwest Science Fisheries building. The hold-up is more fundraising and an all-clear from California Coastal Commission.
(Courtesy)

After successfully garnering approval to proceed from a City Hearing Officer, “The Map of the Grand Canyons of La Jolla Educational Plaza” (aka The Map at Kellogg Park in La Jolla Shores) has hit another speed bump — the decision was appealed based on a question of access.

The Map’s replacement has been in development since 2013, but as project organizers were fundraising and acquiring the necessary permits earlier this year, an appeal was filed, reportedly by Edie Munk, arguing The Map should be processed as a completely new project rather than a replacement.

The original Map was created in 2008 and installed at Kellogg Park with tiny colored beads and bronze fish secured into the ground sealed with Lithocrete. There was no fencing, which allowed uninhibited access, which led to the Lithocrete cracking and the beads being unearthed.

The Map had to be closed to the public in 2012. It was removed and the site was covered in decomposed granite, which remains there today.

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The Map was intended to be constructed and installed by spring 2019, but was delayed and then expanded earlier this year, upon the passing of famed oceanographer Walter Munk. He was honorary chair of the Walter Munk Foundation for the Oceans, which is the principle donor for The Map project.

The current Map includes small tiles pieced together in a process known as LithoMosaic to create images of the marine life found off the Shores coast as an educational display. It uses different shades of blue to represent the different ocean depths. There will also be an open railing around it, which seems to be a sticking point for some.

Earlier this year, a complaint was filed arguing the project is a complete reconstruction, rather than a replacement. The complaint called for a City Hearing Officer to review the project, who determined the project meets the terms of a replacement and could proceed.

But in the wake of that decision, San Diegan John Leek filed an additional appeal. “It’s not about the Map, only about the fencing that was added around it,” he told La Jolla Light, via e-mail. “This Map was to be made of much better materials this time to withstand foot traffic. But there still was added fencing on three sides to prevent through-access, which made the project require a Coastal Development Project, subject to review and disapproval by the Coastal Commission and extra expense and trouble. If the Map is stronger now and could take concentrated traffic, then no fence was needed at all.”

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Speaking with La Jolla Light, project organizer Mary Coakley-Munk said access would actually be improved with the proposed railing and Map installation. “It provides significantly better access from Vallecitos Street into Kellogg Park than what currently exists,” she said. “We are taking the decomposed granite path and widening it from 5 feet to 16 feet at the sidewalk, and it will come down to about 9 feet, and then 12 feet. It will be concrete to match existing decorative sidewalk.”

She added there will be a brass railing within the boundaries of The Map, made from narrow posts and cabling to minimize visual disruption. “The reason for the railing is so all of the traffic from the park shower doesn’t come through there,” she explained.

Schedule going forward

At the Oct. 9 La Jolla Shores Association meeting, Coakley-Munk explained the coming stages of The Map project. She said it will have to be reviewed by the San Diego Planning Commission, and a hearing is set for Nov. 7. Leek said he would present at this hearing.

From there, it goes to the California Coastal Commission for review. “But, they have 49 days to put it on their agenda,” Coakley-Munk said. “So the chances of the project getting on the December agenda are slim, and there is no January meeting, so it would likely be heard in February.”

However, the project is further “under the gun,” she added, because it is being constructed in the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s former, emptied Southwest Science Fisheries building, which is about to undergo its own renovation to become the Marine Conservation Facility. Construction was scheduled to begin last year, but was postponed. The space must be vacated by Feb. 1.

Should the Map need to be moved, Coakley-Munk said, tens of thousands of dollars would be added to the total cost of the project.

With the expanded features and possible move, more funding is needed and this may add more time to executing The Map. The fundraising was stalled when the complaint was filed, but Coakley-Munk said organizers would resume as soon as they are authorized to proceed by the Coastal Commission. A GoFundMe page was created in February with the goal of $500,000, but only raised $5,147 before it was closed.

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— Learn more about the project at waltermunkfoundation.org or watch a video about The Map here


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