La Jolla’s 2019 in Review: A year of new leaders, venues, solutions

Among the top 2019 headlines in La Jolla: The proliferation of electric scooters continued to rouse ire and safety concerns from residents; July 4th fireworks were announced as returning to La Jolla Cove in 2020 after a two-year absence; The $82 million Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center opened as a state-of-the-art, special-events facility and new home for La Jolla Music Society.
(Clockwise from top left: Photos by K.C. Alfred, Greg Wiest and Darren Bradley)

In case you’ve forgotten all the major news events this year in La Jolla due to too much eggnog, here’s a month-by-month recap!


January 2019

A vote for safety: La Jolla Community Planning Association asks the City of San Diego to fund the installation of a handrail on a wall alongside a beach access south of The Marine Room restaurant to improve safety, at its Jan. 3 meeting.

Amanda Hale exonerated: After a yearlong investigation, former Bird Rock Elementary School principal Amanda Hale is exonerated of charges filed against her by parents. Charges include questionable leadership choices and attempting to generate positive surveys from parents and staff by being in the room while the surveys were taking place and offering gift cards.

Police Chief Nisleit reports: San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit tells the Kiwanis Club of La Jolla that the three biggest issues the department faces are use of the street drug fentanyl, human trafficking and computer crimes.

Seuss-ian art: UC San Diego opens a special collection of original drawings by the late Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel at its Geisel Library.

Shores gates still open: Although funding was available Jan. 1 to lock the gates to the Kellogg Park parking lot in La Jolla Shores, at the Jan. 9 La Jolla Shores Association meeting, trustees report seeing the gates wide open after hours.

Dan Simonelli to the rescue: La Jolla Cove Swim Club president Dan Simonelli rescues a man from The Cove the morning of Jan. 10. The swimmer assumed he could traverse the choppy waters, and got stuck in an area known as The Hole. Simonelli, a lifelong swimmer, gets the man out in a dramatic save.

Bye, Nicole: La Jolla Rec Center Nicole Otjens leaves the 615 Prospect St. center after more than six years as director.

In January 2019, demolition begins and gas tanks are removed from the Unocal 76 gas station that closed in September 2018.
(Photo by Corey Levitan)

76 station 86-ed: Demolition begins on the 76 Unocal gas station at 801 Pearl St. Construction of a mixed-use building with retail and 12 condos was approved for the lot in 2015.

Three decades of culture: Athenaeum Music & Arts Library executive director Erika Torri celebrates 30 years at the helm.

MCASD tear-down: To accommodate its upcoming renovation, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla campus tears down an adjacent house it owns, which was built by Thomas Shepherd.

Rotary Club tree project: The La Jolla Sunrise Rotary Club announces it would like to replace the La Jolla Rec Center’s so-called ‘leaning tree’ with another tree that could be more easily maintained. The board would work with the La Jolla Recreation Advisory Group to facilitate the replacement.

Start time pilot program: La Jolla High School’s Site Governance Team submits a pilot program to move its start time from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. The La Jolla Cluster Association and Site Governance Team had been seeking a later start time for more than a decade.

$840K to charity: La Jolla-based women’s philanthropy group Las Patronas doles out $847,545 to 11 major beneficiaries at a luncheon. The amount was raised at the 2018 Jewel Ball, themed Viva La Vida.

Bry’s priorities: San Diego City Council member Barbara Bry holds her State of the District address Jan. 30, announcing she would focus on dockless bikes, homelessness, short-term rentals, meeting the terms of the City’s Climate Action Plan and promoting the innovation economy in the coming year.

Scooter injury report: UC San Diego and Scripps Health release data pertaining to emergency-room visits resulting from motorized scooter injuries, finding 215 visits from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, 2018.

Bird Rock park problems: Parents report problems with divots and dog waste at Bird Rock Elementary School’s joint-use field, and injuries to students such as twisted ankles.


February 2019

Stanchions to stay: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announces the stanchions that line Playa del Norte would remain in its configuration with no changes, after about a year of debate. Residents would continue to advocate for crosswalks and other changes at local advisory groups this month.

New youth librarian: New La Jolla Youth Services Librarian Dana Sanchez sits down with La Jolla Light to discuss her priorities at her new post, which include reaching more teens and tweens.

Flagpole collaboration: La Jolla Historical Society, La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group, local contractors and Park Row residents announce a group collaboration to repair and replace the Union Circle Park flagpole. Installed in the 1940s, the flagpole was deteriorated due to termites, weather and time. The City agreed to replace the pole for $16,000, but the local groups banded together to do so at a reduced cost.

World-famous oceanographer and La Jollan Walter Munk died in February 2019 at age 101. His research about the nature of winds, waves and currents at Scripps Institution of Oceanography earned him the nickname the ‘Einstein of the Oceans.’
(Photo by Eduardo Contreras / The/San Diego Union-Tribune)

RIP Walter: Famed oceanographer and La Jolla resident Walter Munk dies Feb. 8 at age 101. Prior to his passing, the La Jolla Shores boardwalk is renamed Walter Munk Way and the Walter Munk Foundations for the Oceans is established.

Map project on hold: With Walter Munk’s passing, Friends of La Jolla Shores announces “The Map” project would expand to add more features, and its installation delayed. Previously, the hope was to have a less-elaborate Map installed so Munk could see it in his lifetime. However, without a sense of urgency, the mosaic display (with different shades of blue to show ocean depths and different colored tiles to depict marine life) would be expanded to include fencing, a ‘plaza’ and interpretive panels.

Start time stumble: While the San Diego Unified School District rejected the pilot program to start La Jolla High School at 8:30 a.m., other possible and later start times are still considered on the table.

Enjoya La Jolla coming: La Jolla Merchants Association renames its La Jolla Nights program Enjoya La Jolla — the first of which would be held in May.

LJES renovation plans presented: San Diego Unified School District representatives present plans for a Whole Site Modernization of La Jolla Elementary School. Construction will begin in 2020 and be complete in 2022. As part of the work, new classrooms and administration buildings will be constructed, current classrooms renovated and portable classrooms removed.

Historical changes: La Jolla Historical Society archivist Michael Mishler retires after 10 years, and is succeeded by Dana Hicks.

New LJMS director: Ted DeDee is named the La Jolla Music Society’s artistic director — five weeks before the new $82 million Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center is set to open. He was selected Feb. 28 by a unanimous vote of the La Jolla Music Society board of directors.

Stand-up downhill champ: La Jolla High School sophomore Nick Broms is named a world titleholder in stand-up downhill skateboarding.


Dennis Wills hosts his 40th and last St. Patrick’s Day reading of Irish Poetry and Prose at D.G. Wills Bookstore in March. The event had been drawing standing-room only crowds for decades.
Dennis Wills hosts his 40th and last St. Patrick’s Day reading of Irish Poetry and Prose at D.G. Wills Bookstore in March. The event had been drawing standing-room only crowds for decades.
(Photo by Corey Levitan)

March 2019

Irish eyes are weeping: About 200 people attend D.G. Wills Books’ 40th — and last — St. Patrick’s Day Open Reading of Poetry and Prose, which concludes with plenty of reminiscing.

LJCPA against Children’s Pool closure: Ahead of a June California Coastal Commission hearing to decide whether to continue to close Children’s Pool during harbor seal pupping season (Dec. 15 to May 15 annually) for the next decade, the La Jolla Community Planning Association votes to recommend against the continued closure.

At the Bird Rock Community Council meeting on March 5, a resident questioned whether cannabis billboards like this one, on Turquoise Street near the southern end of Bird Rock, violate current laws.
At the Bird Rock Community Council meeting on March 5, a resident questioned whether cannabis billboards like this one, on Turquoise Street near the southern end of Bird Rock, violate current laws.
(Photo by Corey Levitan)

Up in spoke: Residents speak out at the Bird Rock Community Council meeting with concerns about marijuana billboards that have sprung up near the southern end of Bird Rock, with some arguing they are too close to area schools.

LJCPA bylaw change: La Jolla Community Planning Association general members vote to approve a change in bylaws that addresses its recusal policy (applicants that are also board members must leave the table at which other trustees sit, but no longer have to leave the room).

Historicity overturned: The San Diego City Council overturns the historic designation of the Edgar and Carrie Coleman property at 7510 Draper Ave. The San Diego Historical Resources Board designated the house historic in 2016, citing homeowner Edger Coleman’s efforts as a black pioneer and entrepreneur in La Jolla in the 1940s and 1950s.

Science success: Three All Hallows Academy students each win first place in their categories at the Greater San Diego County Science and Engineering Fair, and proceed to State Championships with their projects. They are Sholeh Mozaffari, Summer Stys and Julia DeAndrade.

MAD in City budget: In preparation for San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer’s 2020 budget release, a City spokesperson announces funds for the La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) will be on it. Between City contributions and approximately $87-per-year assessments, the MAD would generate about half a million dollars a year to enhance existing City services such as trash pick-up, and implement capital improvement projects.

La Jolla Country Day School’s boys basketball team wins the CIF state Division III state championship.
(Courtesy of Jeff Hutzler)

State champs: La Jolla Country Day School’s boys basketball team wins the CIF Division III state championship March 8, after defeating San Francisco University 67-39.

Bye, Briley: La Jolla Library branch manager Shaun Briley announces he is leaving the 7555 Draper Ave. library to become the City of Coronado’s library director. In March, the Library also elects a new board and president, Linda Dowley.

Woman of Distinction: La Jolla resident Linda Tu is named a Woman of Distinction by Assembly member Todd Gloria for her civic activism, and involvement with the San Diego Alliance for Asian Pacific Islander Americans.

New alter-ation: St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church dedicates a James Hubbell-designed altar frontage at its 724 Prospect St. church on March 24.

Senate Bill talks: La Jollans are introduced to Senate Bills 330 and 50, when presentations are made at local community planning groups. The fear was originally that these bills could suspend the 30-foot coastal height limit on new development, in an effort to increase housing availability.

Parking plan nixed: A discounted parking plan for Village employees is discontinued by the Coastal Access and Parking Board.

Overlook inventory submitted: An inventory of La Jolla’s coastal overlooks, including improvements that could be made to them, is submitted to the La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group for its blessing before being submitted to the City. While some praised the work, others called the suggested repairs a “private property rights issue.” The board reviewed the inventory in March, but did not vote on it.


The $82 million, 49,200-square-foot Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center opens in April 2019 on Fay Avenue in the Village of La Jolla as a special-events facility and new home for La Jolla Music Society. It also received an Orchid Award that honors the best in San Diego architecture.
(Photo by Darren Bradley for The San Diego Union-Tribune)

April 2019

Grand opening: The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center opens at 7600 Fay Ave. on April 5, to house the La Jolla Music Society. It contains a 500-seat concert hall, a 2,000 square foot flexible performance space, a generous meeting/reception room, a large central courtyard and new home for La Jolla Music Society.

New pedestrian island planned: Bird Rock Community Council hears that a refuge island for pedestrians is coming to La Jolla Boulevard at Mira Monte immediately fronting the La Jolla United Methodist Church.

New LJCPA chair: Tony Crisafi is appointed chair of the La Jolla Community Planning Association.

Rec Center director: San Diego native Jesse DeLille takes the reigns as the new La Jolla Recreation Center director. The lifelong sports nut says he would like to increase athletic programming for children and teens.

Concours car show: The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance car show draws hundreds of classic-car enthusiasts to Scripps Park April 12-14. Best in Show goes to a 1935 Duesenberg Gurney Nutting, owned by a family in Newport Beach.

Van life forum: La Jolla Town Council holds a forum on homelessness and the process of “van-living,” in which people sleep in their cars, following the City of San Diego recent repeal of a ban on van-living. Calling it a “public-safety issue,” the Town Council votes to protest the City’s recent decision.

Vehicles — including a school bus — descend down Nautilus Street toward Muirlands Middle School at 8:15 a.m. in September 2019. While the new time has reportedly been well received by students who live in La Jolla, the students who are bused in face a different start to their days. The later departure time puts the buses in more commuter traffic than when school started at 7:25 and 7:15 a.m., and some have been arriving close to the bell.
(Photo by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Pilot program progress: La Jolla High School and Muirlands Middle School are granted a scheduling change to start the 2019-2020 school year at 8:35, following years of attempts to have the schools start later. The later start time is part of a pilot program, but should it prove successful, could become permanent.

Back to the drawing board: La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board reconvenes after more than a year of not meeting. The board is tasked with finding short-term parking solutions in The Village, and creating a shuttle program to move people around The Village. The latter is per the terms of a memorandum of understanding that was written in the 1970s.

Renderings presented during the Feb. 27, 2019 La Jolla Parks & Beaches meeting, show the look planned for the La Jolla Cove Pavilion (restrooms and showers).
Renderings presented during the Feb. 27, 2019 La Jolla Parks & Beaches meeting, show the look planned for the La Jolla Cove Pavilion (restrooms and showers).
(Courtesy Photo)

Comfort station funding: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer issues his 2020 draft budget, and includes funding for the Scripps Park Pavilion (restroom facility) project, the La Jolla View reservoir replacement project, the new UC San Diego fire station construction, and other smaller and continuing projects.

Cove stench returns: The infamous “Cove Stench” returns, with the City of San Diego reporting the smell is emanating from Alligator Point, where sea lions gather. The smell is from the waste of birds and sea lions, and combated only with a microbial agent the City applies three times monthly.

Dockless scooter regulations: The San Diego City Council passes new regulations for dockless scooters and bikes, after hours of public testimony. Among the new regulations, the ordinance calls for companies to limit speeds, have the vehicles staged in corrals on the street, pay a permit fee and more.

New LJES principal: Stephanie Hasselbrink is named the new La Jolla Elementary School principal. She served as interim principal following the departure of Donna Tripi, and is formally appointed April 26.

5,000 runners: The Kiwanis Club of La Jolla’s half marathon — from Del Mar to La Jolla — has 5,000 participants on April 28. Adam Dailey of La Jolla wins the race.

Flagpole work begins: The 1940s Union Circle Park flagpole is taken down, so refurbishing work can begin, in a community effort that brought together several local groups in February.

Vendor in the grass: La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group decides to take up Senate Bill 946, which legalizes sidewalk vending, and draft local regulations to address the proliferation of T-shirt and other vendors in La Jolla’s parks.


Beachgoers standing behind a barrier rope observe seals at Children’s Pool in La Jolla.
Beachgoers standing behind a barrier rope observe seals at Children’s Pool in La Jolla.
(Photo by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

May 2019

National landmark? La Jolla resident Diane Kane submits a nomination form to list La Jolla’s Children’s Pool on the National Register of Historic Places, after two laborious years of research and work. Should the 1931 landmark be listed, any changes or repairs to the seawall would need to meet the Secretary of Interior standards, rather than the City standards, and “keep that property looking like we all enjoy it,” Kane says.

Senate Bill updates: It comes to light that under Senate Bill 330, the San Diego City Council would have the authority to overturn the 30-foot coastal height limit in La Jolla on a project-by-project basis.

Village shuttle? During a public forum on transportation held at the La Jolla Town Council meeting May 9, residents and board members asks that when the Blue Line Trolley extension is complete — and service begins in 2021 — a shuttle to The Village be implemented.

Results are in: A La Jolla Merchants Association-commissioned study asking what brings tourists to La Jolla finds that the top two reasons are scenic beauty/nature and its dining. The shocking discovery is that zero percent said they considered La Jolla to be a cultural destination.

Retaining wall thumbs-down: At its May 21 meeting, La Jolla’s Development Permit Review committee voted against a City-requested Substantial Conformance Review for a short wall built at Children’s Pool. Permitters disagree with the City’s assertion that the wall is necessary and that the project conforms to the terms of a permit issued in 2012.

Tree hazard: Although the City is hesitant to remove trees from the La Jolla Rec Center grounds, an arborist tells the La Jolla Recreation Advisory Group some of the trees are at risk of breaking or falling, posing a hazard.

The City reviews and attempts to mediate the proliferation of ‘stuck trucks’ on Torrey Pines Road turning onto Hillside Drive by adding several warning ‘no trucks’ signs with flashing lights.
(Photo by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Stuck trucks re-emerge: As La Jollans investigate the persistence of “stuck trucks” turning onto the steep-inclined Hillside Drive at Torrey Pines Road , the La Jolla Community Planning Association ad hoc committee on Hillside Drive finds that a GPS app directs truck drivers to use Hillside, and that many are unaware that they will get stuck. Further, a recent street repair changed the angle of the base of the street, which increases the chances of a truck getting stuck.

Yet Another Stuck Truck — La Jolla Light reader Carl Doughty supplies this photo and writes: "Despite flashing warnings and signs along both lanes of Torrey Pines Road advising truck drivers not to attempt turning onto Hillside Drive, this truck was spotted the morning of Nov. 11, 2019 doing just that."
(Photo by Carl Doughty)

Idea Lab opens: La Jolla Library opens a first-of-its-kind “Idea Lab” on May 25 in what was once its computer lab. The new Idea Lab includes an open-to-the-public bio lab, 3D printing lab, computers and meeting space for workshops.

“Dream Team” at Stella Maris: Father Patrick Mulcahy is appointed to lead Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church and Francie Moss is named principal of the church’s sister-school Stella Maris Academy, in what is called a “dream team.”

Mary, Star of the Sea pastor Patrick Mulcahy and Stella Maris Academy principal Francie Moss
Mary, Star of the Sea pastor Patrick Mulcahy and Stella Maris Academy principal Francie Moss
(Photo by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Overlooks inventory adopted: La Jolla Parks & Beaches, after months of debate, votes to adopt the heavily edited coastal overlooks inventory submitted earlier in the year. It was submitted to the City, so it could make suggested repairs as funding becomes available.

So close, Sarah! Season 10 of FOX-TVs show “MasterChef” premieres with La Jolla real estate agent Sarah Faherty as contestant. She makes it all the way to the top, finishing as the runner-up.

Sarah Faherty waves to the crowd as she begins the Season 10 finale of "MasterChef" in which she is one of three finalists competing for the $250,000 grand prize.
(Courtesy of “MasterChef”)


The ‘Lorax Tree’ was a Scripps Park landmark in La Jolla for at least 80 years, until it fell in June 2019.
(Courtesy of the City of San Diego)
City cleanup crews chainsaw the fallen remains of what three generations of La Jollans have referred to as the ‘Lorax tree' in Scripps Park. The 100-foot Monterey cypress fell at 7 a.m. on June 13, 2019. No one was injured.
( (Photo by Corey Levitan) )

June 2019

Lorax tree falls: The so-called “Lorax Tree” in Scripps Park falls June 13. The 100-foot Monterey cypress — rumored to have inspired Dr. Seuss to write “The Lorax” book — was located in the park for 80 years.

Gallery closed: La Jolla Art Association closes its La Jolla Shores gallery at 8100 Paseo del Ocaso, following more than a year of financial troubles. The Association itself continues to operate out of the La Jolla Community Center.

Welcome, William: Former La Jolla youth services librarian William Mallory is appointed branch manager, succeeding Shaun Briley. Mallory served as youth services librarian from 2012-2016, before he transferred to another branch, and came back in early June.

Retaining wall thumbs-down (again): La Jolla Community Planning Association ratifies the findings of the La Jolla Development Permit Review committee, which voted against a City-requested Substantial Conformance Review for a short wall built at Children’s Pool.

A-plus: Teachers Heather Polen (La Jolla Elementary), Martha Bagaporo (Torrey Pines Elementary), Michelle Montali (Bird Rock Elementary), Julie Latta (Muirlands Middle) are named La Jolla’s teachers of the year at a small ceremony.

Children’s Pool closure continues: The California Coastal Commission votes unanimously to continue the seasonal closure of Children’s Pool for another 10 years. Through 2029, the beach will be closed to public access Dec. 15 to May 15 annually, and a guideline rope will be in place the remaining months to encourage distance between humans and harbor seals.

New colleges coming: UC San Diego announces plans for the construction of two new “colleges,” one of which will be built in existing facilities, and the other on the south end of campus at a location to be determined. Other coming projects in the next 15-20 include a new Triton Pavilion six-building development, a Target store, a new fire station, and more.

Police gather on Pearl Street at Draper Avenue to investigate the deadly shooting that took place around 12:39 a.m. June 23, 2019 in the alley of 7500 Cuvier Street in La Jolla.
(Courtesy Photo)

Shooting in La Jolla: La Jolla is rattled by the murder of 20-year-old Nina Silver on Cuvier Street in the Village of La Jolla. Silver was standing in an alley with a small group outside a party June 23, when a sedan pulled up and opened fire, killing Silver and injuring two others. Police begin the investigation by seeking local surveillance footage of the car.

Trees rooted: La Jolla Recreation Advisory Group announces it will not be removing any trees from the grounds, pending the creation of a “master plan” for the property, which addresses overall landscaping and frontage designs.

Anti-Semitic vandalism on La Jolla Mesa: Four highly visible, large swastikas are painted in white at various locations along La Jolla Mesa Drive the morning of June 26. All are painted over or otherwise removed by the City. The Anti-Defamation League of San Diego offers a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.


July 2019

No fireworks again: For the second straight year, there are no July 4th fireworks above The Cove. This time, fortunately, many of the tourists camped at La Jolla Shores during the day were not caught unaware.

Parks & Beaches’ Pottery Canyon plans: Plans to revamp the Pottery Canyon open space at 2024 Torrey Pines Road move one step closer to fruition, as the La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory board votes unanimously to send the City a letter requesting that the natural area be manicured.

MAD approved by City: The San Diego City Council votes on July 16 to approve 55 Maintenance Assessment Districts (MADs) around the City, including La Jolla’s. Mayor Kevin Faulconer included more than $502,000 for the La Jolla MAD, administered by Enhance La Jolla, in his 2020 citywide budget.

Community planners vote to phase in scooter corrals: On July 18, its most rancorous meeting of the year, the La Jolla Community Planning Association votes down the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation advisory group’s list of 81 locations in favor of a list of 40. City staff sought community feedback on locations for the corrals, which are painted-on 10-foot-by-six-foot squares on the street by red zones. (The City accepts the list.)

Bry calls for dockless scooter moratorium: District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry calls for a citywide moratorium on new electric scooters, in a memo issued July 26, “until we demonstrate that we can develop a fiscally responsible, well-thought-out plan that ensures public and environmental safety.”

A marquee depicting a McLaren car over a McLaren dealership at 7440 La Jolla Blvd. is one of four ‘murals’ deemed to be ‘signs.’
(Photo by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Community planners find four Village “murals” to be signs: On July 18, the La Jolla Community Planning Association votes 11-3-1 that four Village installations — a McLaren above a McLaren dealership at 7440 La Jolla Blvd., a panorama of Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center images on the back of 1111 Prospect St., an image of “910” on the side of the Grande Colonial Hotel’s NINE-TEN Restaurant at 910 Prospect St., and the name of the “Branding Iron” silk-screening shop featured in a painting at 7464 Draper Ave.— are signs and not murals, and asks the City to regulate them in accordance with the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance.

Construction worker killed at UCSD: Sergio Cruz, 32, is struck in the head and killed by falling rebar on July 25 at a UC San Diego construction site. He died at Scripps Memorial. Three others were injured in the incident.

Accused La Jolla murderer pleads not guilty: Odyssey Carrillo-Sellers, the 18-year-old accused of shooting and killing 20-year-old Nina Silver in La Jolla on June 23, pleads not guilty in San Diego Superior Court on July 26.


More than 40 scooter corrals are installed throughout the Village of La Jolla in August 2019 by the City of San Diego. Pictured is a scooter corral in front of La Jolla Recreation Center.
(Photo by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

August 2019

Corralling e-scooters: The City installs more than 40 scooter corrals in The Village, almost all of which are located west of Pearl Street between Prospect Street and Ivanhoe Avenue. Corrals are painted squares — typically 10 feet by 6 feet — on the street, with many of them fronting red zones. The locations were determined by City staff after La Jolla Community Planning Association voted to approve corrals for the staging of electric scooters. Riders are not required to leave scooters in corrals, but are encouraged to do so, in attempting to reduce the amount of scooters commonly left blocking sidewalks and other public right-of-way spaces.

Construction begins on Scripps Park Pavilion: The 440-day clock toward new restrooms at The Cove begins as the old facility is fenced off and prepped for demolition. Construction was expected to begin earlier in the year but an “unexpected redesign” of certain features pushed the date back.

The entrance to Koch’s Crack is barricaded off as City contractors fill the sea cave with a concrete slurry to prevent Coast Boulevard above it from caving in.
(Photo by Corey Levitan)

Coast Boulevard destabilized: Emergency repairs begin on an unstable cave on La Jolla’s Coast on Aug. 9, forcing closure of the roadway for six weeks as workers fill the Koch’s Crack sea cave with a cement slurry. No one single cause is blamed for the destabilization. However, a report prepared for the City by the TerraCosta Consulting Group states that construction of the La Jolla Bay Homes, on the former Green Dragon Colony site, “may have contributed.”

Stuck trucks can now be ticketed: Residents fighting the proliferation of so-called “stuck trucks” on Hillside Drive at Torrey Pines Road win a victory when Diane Kane — chair of the La Jolla Community Planning Association’s Hillside Drive ad hoc committee — announces that drivers of the vehicles can now be ticketed for obstructing traffic. (Previously, in order to be ticketed, police had to observe the truck making the turn onto Hillside Drive and getting stuck.)

A "Smart Streetlight" or CityIQ sensor node is attached to a streetlight in La Jolla.
(Photo by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

City installs “camera vision” on La Jolla streetlights: As part of the City’s “Smart Streetlights” program, camera-vision technology — aka CityIQ sensor nodes — go up on La Jolla lampposts. The sensors record pedestrian and vehicle movement and parking activity.

Merchant business caved in by Coast Boulevard construction: Brockton Villa Restaurant, the Goldfish Point Cafe and Sunny Jim’s Cave Store all report that the traffic detour around the construction on Coast Boulevard has cut their business in half during what should be the year’s most robust sales period.

View of the southwest corner of the Museum of Contemporary Art property, as seen looking down Cuvier Street. The museum plans to relocate or remove this Norfolk pine tree to accommodate its new gallery space.
View of the southwest corner of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego property, as seen looking down Cuvier Street in La Jolla. The museum later in August 2019 relocated and moved this Norfolk pine tree to accommodate its upcoming, new gallery space for a major, multi-year expansion and remodeling project.
(Photo by Pat Sherman)

Museum moves iconic tree: On Aug. 21, crane operators hired by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego hoist a Nofolk pine tree into the air and into a concrete encasement 15 feet to the southeast. When the museum announced plans to expand its 7000 Prospect St. campus, this tree — planted at the museum’s southwest corner sometime in the 1980s — proved too close to where the western-most side of the new wing would be built.

Former Bishop’s student files sexual-abuse lawsuit: On Aug. 28, a sexual-abuse lawsuit is filed against The Bishop’s School and the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego by a former student alleging two years of abuse by a teacher in the 1990s. The suit comes after the 2018 discovery of more than a dozen other alleged incidents of sexual misconduct, which took place over the span of 30 years.


Danielle Douglas, right, plays with her children (Cy, 6; Kieran, 8, and Grace, 3) in front of their house and the 5G miniature tower that AT&T installed in September 2019 only 100 feet from their property in La Jolla.
(Photo by Corey Levitan)

September 2019

5G’s a hard cell: 5G miniature cell towers go up across La Jolla, as community members — including married physicians Danielle Douglas and Peter Venieris — express concern about exposing their young children to the EMF radiation. (A 1996 Federal Telecommunications Act prohibits states or cities from basing any decisions on wireless-communications towers on their environmental or health impacts.)

League house to undergo major renovation: Plans are announced to renovate — if not completely rebuild — the League House for low-income seniors at 7465 Olivetas Ave., potentially upgrading the building, increasing the number of housing units from 52 to 70, and adding underground parking.

State revokes former La Jolla High teacher’s credential: Martin Teachworth, a former La Jolla High School physics teacher accused of touching female students, has his teaching license revoked for misconduct. Teachworth retired in 2017.

La Jolla Planners echo request for scooter moratorium: During its Sept. 5 meeting, the La Jolla Community Planning Association announces its support of a a full-stop moratorium on dockless scooters and their corrals, announcing that a letter had been written and would be sent to the City.

Second suspect charged in La Jolla murder: On Sept. 13, Malik Joshua Campbell, 20, is arrested by San Diego police in connection with the June 23 murder of 20-year-old Nina Silver in La Jolla. He pleads not guilty to a murder charge and three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon. A Superior Court judge orders the suspect held in jail in lieu of $5 million bail.

La Jolla students stage sanctioned school walkout: About 100 La Jolla High School students walk out of school 45 minutes early on Sept. 20, demanding political action on climate change as part of the Global Climate Strike. No students faced repercussions since the walkout was sanctioned and all had to have their parents sign a permission slip beforehand.

Parks & Beaches nixes “Art in the Park”: The La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group votes to deny a permit for a planned “Art in the Park” event in Scripps Park. “I don’t want to see Scripps Park become a vending place,” explains one trustee.

10-mile relay draws 645 swimmers: Despite somewhat rough seas, 140 teams and 20 soloists participate in the 10-Mile Relay at La Jolla Shores on Sept. 29.


The bedrock mortar in Cuvier Park is an anthropogenic circular depression in a rock outcrop (or naturally occurring slab), used by Native people for grinding grain, acorns or other food products. In 2017, the 3.5-foot-by-two-foot bedrock mortar — sitting out in the open without any indicators to its significance in the park alongside Coast Boulevard — was removed to accommodate a sidewalk expansion. In a quiet, respectful moment on a beautiful day in La Jolla, the two-year saga of the bedrock mortar (aka metate) that was taken from La Jolla ended: The Native American milling stone was returned to its home in Cuvier Park on Oct. 1, 2019.
(Photo by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

October 2019

Bedrock mortar returned: A Native American milling stone, known as a metate, is returned to Cuvier Park on Oct. 1, ending a two-year saga. The bedrock mortar was removed by the City in 2017 to accommodate a sidewalk expansion.

La Jolla kiln named to endangered list: La Jolla’s Pottery Canyon kiln appears on the Save Our Heritage Organisation’s 2019 Most Endangered List of Historic Resources. Located on a private lot at 2725 Torrey Pines Road adjacent to Pottery Canyon Park, the kiln once belonged to Cornelio Rodriguez, who operated a pottery on the site from 1928 through the 1950s.

Vapes of wrath: Following reports of 12 vaping-related deaths nationwide, an Oct. 3 La Jolla Light investigation finds nine smoke shops (and one dedicated vape shop) selling potentially deadly THC-vaping products on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach alone. (In La Jolla, only nicotine-vaping products are sold.)

City Council votes to replace Windemere: Almost a decade after La Jolla lost its beloved Windemere Cottage, the San Diego City Council votes on Oct. 7 to pave the way for a new property to be built in its place at 1328 Virginia Way, vacating a previous decision that any new project had to meet certain environmental reviews before proceeding.

An excited La Jolla High School Vikings football team takes the field at Homecoming, Oct. 11, 2019 in what would be an action-packed game with its 35-12 victory against Morse High School.
(Photo by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Vikings victorious at homecoming: The La Jolla High School Vikings trounce Morse High School during the Vikings annual homecoming game on Oct. 11.

“Map” project appealed, delayed: The Map of the Grand Canyons of La Jolla Educational Plaza in Kellogg Park hits its latest snag. After being approved by a City hearing officer, the decision is appealed based on a question of access.

Coast is clear! After eight weeks and $3.2 million, a restabilized Coast Boulevard reopens on Oct. 16. At a City press conference, La Jolla learns how narrowly disaster was avoided. Says San Diego deputy chief operating Johnnie Perkins: “The consultant leaned across the table and said, ‘Johnnie, the collapse of the street and cave is imminent.’”

Wrongful-death lawsuit: Filed by Hamidreza Akbarzadegan, whose father died in a July 2017 snorkeling accident, the suit states that the City needs more lifeguards, better-located towers and warning signs because of rock formations and other obstructions.

Walter-palooza: The Walter Munk Legacy Celebration — a daylong symposium at the Scripps Forum, capped by a cocktail party at Birch Aquarium — celebrates the life and work of Scripps Institution of Oceanography legend Walter Munk on what would have been the oceanographer’s 102 birthday on Thursday, Oct. 17.

UCSD’s new grand entrance: UC San Diego breaks ground on Oct. 24 on its $67 million Design & Innovation Building, the first piece of what the university intends to be its new grand entrance.

This iconic La Jolla eatery, Su Casa Mexican Restaurant at at 6738 La Jolla Blvd., permanently closes in October 2019 after 52 years.
(Photo by Daniel K. Lew)

Su Casa no longer La Jolla’s casa: After 52 years at 6738 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla culinary institution Su Casa Mexican restaurant closes permanently on Oct. 28. Owner Moishe Chernovetzy tells the Light he has no plans to redevelop the property; he just wants to find a buyer.

“Lorax” tree replaced: On Oct. 29, crews replace the rumored “Lorax Tree” with three new Monterey cypress trees.


Seven candidates for San Diego City Council District 1 — Aaron Brennan, Joe LaCava, Will Moore, Harid Puentes, Louis Rodolico, James Rudolph and Lily Zhou — state their cases at the Nov. 14, 2019 La Jolla Town Council meeting.
(Photo by Corey Levitan

November 2019

City Council debate at Town Council: Seven candidates for San Diego City Council’s District 1 (which includes La Jolla) face off at the Nov. 14 Town Council meeting — including La Jollans Joe LaCava, James Rudolph and Aaron Brennan.

Rec Center courts resurfaced: After almost two years of waiting — in the face of City commitments and stopgap solutions — La Jolla Recreation Center’s basketball courts are resurfaced, closing the courts, grass and surrounding area for a month.

High water mark: Scripps biological oceanographer Lisa Levin receives the prestigious Prince Albert 1 Grand Medal for Science on Nov. 7 in Monaco.

Piano men: Keyboardists Rick Ross (La Valencia) and Tad Sisler (Manhattan of La Jolla) recall the nerve-wracking night they both played and sang for La Jolla audiences that included their idol, Billy Joel.

Owner David Bourne would like to demolish and clear the former 76 service station at 801 Pearl St. in La Jolla and build a 20,595-square-foot, two-story mixed-use building consisting of 26 residential and two retail units with 23 parking spaces, as pictured in this architect’s rendering.
(Courtesy Photo)

76 station Re-Bourne: Real-estate developer David Bourne scraps the plans approved in 2016 for 12 condos to be built on the shuttered gas station at 801 Pearl St., revealing his new plans to the Light: 26 small apartment rentals, two of which will be affordable housing. The La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee rejects the plan 4-2-1, reasoning that “the intensification of density above the base zoning density is not appropriate to the level of affordable housing provided and does not provide the desired benefit to the community plan.” However, the La Jolla Community Planning Association ignores that vote and approves it 10-3-1.

Enhance La Jolla begins enhancing La Jolla: The three La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District contract vendors complete their first round of landscape maintenance, litter contol and power-washing around the Village of La Jolla.

Pictured in November 2019, cracks in the La Jolla Children's Pool seawall's support structure have deepened and expanded since the previous year. In 2018, local resident Diane Kane was at the Children’s Pool to take photos of La Jolla’s 1931 landmark, as part of the nomination process to have it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Kane undertook the extensive project and submitted the report earlier in 2019, but on return visits to the Children’s Pool, she made some startling observations. When she returned to retake some photos throughout the subsequent months in 2019, Kane noticed the Children’s Pool’s physical condition had worsened from the year before.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Children’s Pool crumbling: Diane Kane, the community activist who submitted the report to have the Children’s Pool historically designated a landmark, notices in photographs she took, many new stress fractures in the 1931 seawall since last year. “It’s falling apart,” she says.

July 4th fireworks and Summer Concerts by the Sea returning to La Jolla Cove: Two La Jolla summer institutions sorely missed by residents, tourists and merchants alike will return in 2020, the Light learns. Permits were pulled for July 4th fireworks to launch over The Cove for the first time since 2017 starting again on Kuly 4, 2020; and 2020 Summer Concerts by the Sea shows are scheduled to take place July 12, July 19, July 26 and Aug. 2 after a three-year absence.

Fireworks explode over La Jolla Cove from a previous Independence Day celebration and is scheduled to light up the sky again on July 4, 2020 after a two-year absence.
(Photo by Greg Wiest)
Crowds groove to cajun-blues tunes from Theo and The Zydeco Patrol during a previous La Jolla Concerts by the Sea event at Scripps Park in La Jolla Cove. The free music series will return in summer 2020 after a three-year absence.
(Photo by Greg Wiest)

La Jolla brothers celebrate 90 years together: La Jolla native Stan Stewart celebrates his 90th birthday on Nov. 22. That’s a milestone. But what makes it a near statistical impossibility (a one-in-five-million chance) is that he celebrates it with his two brothers at his side — who are 93 and 100. See their incredible story at

Valley Farm Market opens: The new butcher and specialty shop debuts on the ground floor of the former Nautilus Professional Building on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Opening a new grocery store is difficult enough without doing it two days before the year’s biggest food holiday. “We know it wasn’t the best time, and I almost called it off,” says owner Derek Marso, “but the overwhelming positivity made the decision easier.”

The newly built Collins Coastal Apartments building — constructed by Murfey Company at La Jolla Boulevard and Nautilus Street — also houses Valley Farm Market on the ground floor. The market opened in November 2019.
(Photo by Daniel K. Lew)


It was a Christmas miracle that the 62nd La Jolla Christmas Parade escaped rain. However, the threat of it cut significantly into attendance. A window of sunshine opened on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019 that was just wide enough for the La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival to squeak through and avoid the rain that fell all weekend.
(Photo by Corey Levitan)
Several parade marshals and officials gather before the La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. They include ‘Papa’ Doug and Geniya Manchester with their family, Peter and Peggy Preuss and their family, Shane Kimbrough (a NASA astronaut and former International Space Station commander who was the parade’s first 'space' marshal), Gary Krahn, Charles Hartford, Ryan Heritage and event organizer Ann Kerr Bache.
(Photo by Corey Levitan)

December 2019

Christmas miracle! The 62nd La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival escapes the rain falling all weekend. However, the threat of a wet Christmas cuts typical turnout by at least half.

Trial begins for La Jolla restaurant owner: Opening statements are heard Dec. 2 in the trial of Voce del Mare restaurant owner Daniel Dorado, 61, who is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting eight women over a nine-year period.

State of the planet: Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore delivers a sobering talk about climate change on Dec. 3 at the Salk Institute, but the news is not all bad. Gore notes that the world’s switch to renewable energy is outpacing all previous predictions, and that it still may be possible to avert disaster.

Vikings in championship! For the first time in its history, La Jolla High School advances to the California State Championship for football. After securing the San Diego Section title with a close win against Scripps Ranch, La Jolla goes on the road and upsets Marina High School of Huntington Beach in the Southern California Regional Championship, 27-14, on Dec. 7.

Slippery slope: Private citizens group Friends of the Spindrift Drive Beach Access announces fundraising to remedy the “dangerous” La Jolla Shores beach access with a handrail. The long and narrow access, situated between the Barbey residence and The Marine Room, is frequently slick with sand and wet leaves and slopes unpredictably downward just before the beach — into two sets of uneven and crumbling stairs.

Tannenbummer: Four months after the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) relocated a Norfolk pine tree out of the way of a future museum exterior wall, the tree is turning noticably brown. MCASD claims the tree is undergoing an expected regeneration and is being monitored by several arborists. However, landscape architect Jim Neri says it’s a coin toss whether the tree comes back to life next spring.

Open-water event swims to Kiwanis: At its final meeting of the year, La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJP&B) votes to transfer the $47,818 proceeds and programming for the La Jolla Cove Swim to the Kiwanis Club of La Jolla. Judy Halter, organizer of the swim, also resigns her LJP&B board seat.

An electric scooter hub is seen on the Mission Beach boardwalk with scooters from various companies. San Diego City Council voted Dec. 16, 2019 to ban e-scooters and other motorized devices on the boardwalks from La Jolla to Mission Beach.
(Photo by K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Scooters banned on boardwalks: The San Diego City Council votes on Dec. 16 to ban electric scooters and other motorized devices along the boardwalks from La Jolla to Mission Beach.

Late science reporter Bradley Fikes enjoys the dish named after him at La Jolla’s Bella Vista Caffe.
(Courtesy Photo)

Blinded by his science: Beloved San Diego Union-Tribune biotech reporter Bradley Fikes — who died of a heart attack on Nov. 20 at age 61 — is remembered in separate memorial services organized by the U-T and at La Jolla’s Bella Vista Caffe.. At the second gathering, many friends, family, colleagues and biotech execs met up to remember Fikes at his favorite restaurant, the Bella Vista Caffe in La Jolla, Dec. 13. The restaurant also made a plaque in his memory.

Friends, family, colleagues and biotech execs gather to remember Bradley Fikes at his favorite restaurant, the Bella Vista Caffe in La Jolla, Dec. 13. In the foreground is a plaque the restaurant had made in his memory.
(Photo by Corey Levitan)

La Jollan wins lifesaving award: La Jolla Cove Swim Club president Dan Simonelli receives a Carnegie Hero Award for a daring rescue he made on Jan. 10, 2019.

La Jolla Cove Swim Club member Dan Simonelli is a nationally recognized hero.
(Photo by Rick Nocon / The San Diego Union-Tribune)


What do YOU think were some of La Jolla’s top news and events for 2019?

E-mail your thoughts with your first-and-last name to and your comments might appear in a future issue of La Jolla Light on the Opinion page’s “Our Readers Write” (Letters to the Editor) section.