La Jolla Shores board preps to battle UCSD expansion

UC San Diego's planned Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood (area shown in color).
UC San Diego’s Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood (area shown in color) is planned for the southwest corner of the campus, along Torrey Pines Road.
(Courtesy Concept Rendering)

La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) voted to seek legal counsel on whether to pursue a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) suit filed against UC San Diego during its March 11, 2020 meeting at Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Martin Johnson House. The suit would aim to reduce, delay or halt construction of UCSD’s Future College Living & Learning Neighborhood, which is expected to break ground near La Jolla Village Drive and North Torrey Pines Road in September.

LJSA chair Janie Emerson said that even with the traffic mitigation proposed by UCSD (smart traffic lights down La Jolla Village Drive and North Torrey Pines Road at six problematic intersections), four of the six received a grade of “F” in its own 2017 traffic study.

“None of the people involved in the initial discussion live in the community,” Emerson said, “(but) every decision they make, every day, affects every one of us for the rest of our lives that we live here.”

Emerson said she already has $4,000 pledged toward legal funds and would need to raise some more. The motion passed 12-0-2. Emerson abstained as per the group’s bylaws, as did Mary Coakley-Munk, whose late husband, legendary oceanographer Walter Munk, worked for Scripps Institution of Oceanography from its 1958 absorption into UCSD until his death last year.

The group also voted unanimously to back the La Jolla Community Planning Association’s March 5 motion to co-host a presentation with UCSD in La Jolla — not on campus as UCSD had been suggesting — ideally by March 31.

Emerson told the group that neither the City nor UCSD had responded to her e-mails inquiring about the presentation, though she added: “Given what’s going on in the world right now, this may not happen immediately.”

La Jolla Light received an e-mail from UCSD spokesperson Leslie Sepuka the day after the meeting, stating: “Nothing has been agreed to as of yet, but the university has proposed a meeting on April 2 hosted by the La Jolla Community Planning Association, which would be part of their regularly scheduled meeting at the La Jolla Recreation Center.”

A proposed new ADA-access ramp on the north end of Kellogg Park in La Jolla Shores would resemble this one at Mission Beach.
(Courtesy Photo)

Beach ramp at North Kellogg

Kelly Twichel, a Mission Valley occupational therapist, proposed the construction of a permanent Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramp at the La Jolla Shores boardwalk entrance near the restrooms at the north edge of Kellogg Park. Twichel demonstrated that steps and a gap in the cement create no safe, permanent way for people in wheelchairs to access the beach (which is the site of events such as the AmpSurf International Surfing Association World Para Surf Championship, which happened that same week.)

“They have to pour a ton of sand to create a ramp and put plywood over it,” she noted. “That’s not really professional or safe. And the wheels still get stuck in the sand, so chairs need to be carried.”

As an example of how the ramp would appear, Twichel showed a slide of one built to access Mission Beach.

When asked why the City shouldn’t pay for this ramp under ADA, Twichel replied: “I’m not an expert in where funding might come from.” Emerson instructed Twichel to talk to the City and work through its regulations, specifically regarding ADA, then to return for discussion and approval of the idea.

La Jolla resident Jill Peters points with her umbrella at the location for a railing proposed by Members of Friends of the Spindrift Drive Beach Access, a citizens group that also includes Tom Grunow, Patrick Ahern and Dori McCue.
(Photo by Corey Levitan)

Slippery slope

Grunow Construction owner Tom Grunow presented a rendering of three pieces of bronze handrail he would like to install into a private wall at the Spindrift Drive Beach Access. This privately funded action would be the first step to ameliorate a dangerous walkway adjacent The Marine Room restaurant.

Grunow said he received $9,000 in donations — $1,000 more than his budget — and sought LJSA’s seal of approval for a City permit.

One board member wondered whether the City should pay for the fix entirely, since it owns the easement.

“This is one of those things where if property owners do it themselves, they need to get a permit from City, but the liability would run with (the owners), too — if someone bumps their head on the rail or slips,” said Steve Hadley, rep for District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry. “We could simply present it to the Parks & Recreation Department as a public-safety issue that needs to be addressed.”

Emerson cut the debate off. “It appears that there’s a huge difference between whether this gets done privately or through the City, and that needs to be hammered out before this board gets behind it,” she said, at which point, Grunow joked: “The easy part is building it.”

Also discussed at the La Jolla Shores Association meeting:

“The Throat” traffic study backed: LJSA voted unanimously to echo La Jolla Traffic & Transportation’s Feb. 19 recommendation for the City to conduct a full traffic study of congestion at an area known as “the throat” — the intersection of Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla Parkway and Hidden Valley Road.

Brown Act exemptions? Emerson wondered what will happen to community groups if they can no longer meet in an open forum due to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns. “We can’t vote online, we can’t have discussions online. All of those things were taken off the table several years ago,” she said. “Can we suspend the Brown Act?” She said she reached out to State Senator Toni Atkins’ office, but did not yet receive a reply.

Board member elections: LJSA board members Dede Donovan, John Shannon, Charlie Brown, Joe Dicks and Mary Coakley-Munk were all re-elected, and Harper Keys Allan was added to the board. However, a motion was unanimously passed to continue the LJSA with its present officers until the group can meet again.

New density bill: Emerson warned about the new housing density bill, SB 902, introduced by State Senator Scott Wiener six weeks after his similar bill, SB 50, failed in the legislature. “It’s to add two-, three- and four-plexes in single-family residences without going through planning groups,” Emerson said. “Keep it on your radar screens.”

New bike rack: LJSA voted unanimously to support a new bike rack by the south shower in Kellogg Park, near The Map, a 24,000-square-foot tile mosaic of sealife still under construction.

For information about when La Jolla Shores Association next meets, visit