La Jolla groups revise letter to city commenting on draft parks master plan

Several La Jolla organizations have weighed in on San Diego’s draft parks master plan. Pictured is Kellogg Park.
Several La Jolla organizations have weighed in on the city of San Diego’s draft parks master plan as it relates to parks in La Jolla, such as Kellogg Park, pictured.

Several La Jolla organizations have signed and submitted a letter to comment on the city of San Diego’s draft parks master plan as it relates to parks in La Jolla.

The letter was updated recently to include support from the La Jolla Community Planning Association and edited to omit a section that LJCPA felt undermined its domain.

The letter came out of a working group created by the La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group at its April meeting to collect comments from Parks & Beaches, La Jolla Shores Association, Bird Rock Community Council and Friends of Coast Walk Trail. The comments in the original letter outlined key points specific to La Jolla parks and shorelines for consideration for the draft parks master plan.

The parks plan, the first of its kind in 60 years, seeks to align “parks planning with the city of San Diego’s vision to achieve the shared citywide goals of sustainability and resilience, equity, livability and connectivity,” according to the city’s parks master plan website,

In explaining the master plan to the La Jolla Town Council at its June 11 meeting, council secretary Gail Forbes said “it contains some new, interesting ideas, one of which is a point system for trying to analyze how well your park is compared to other parks in the city. It’s a way to find equity between and among different parks.”

The point system will assign values to parks “based on features related to carrying capacity, recreation opportunities, access, amenities and activations,” according to the plan’s website.

“It’s a little unclear in the details how points are adjudicated,” Forbes said. The plan gives points for “things like what equipment is there, what age groups are best served … and the city will attempt to make points equal between the parks.”

The letter from the La Jolla groups asks the city for an “opportunity to better understand the impact of the point standard assessment on La Jolla” and include the groups’ input in the process.

The letter also says “destination shoreline parks should have management elements different from those of neighborhood parks used on a daily basis mainly by local residents,” preserving their natural features without added equipment.

La Jolla Cove’s Ellen Browning Scripps Park
A letter from La Jolla groups says San Diego’s draft parks master plan should give “destination shoreline parks” different management elements than neighborhood parks. Pictured is La Jolla Cove’s Ellen Browning Scripps Park.

The letter states that certain neighborhoods “lack parks which are local in character and serve the needs of a growing aging-in-place residential population” and urges the city to help improve that.

The city changed the original deadline to submit comments from May 25 to June 11. In the interim, the Community Planning Association’s signature was included on the letter, but with one revision.

Though largely in favor of the ideas in the letter, LJCPA took enough umbrage with one sentence that it voted during its June 4 meeting to ask that the letter be pulled, the sentence removed and resubmitted with all original signatures, plus LJCPA’s.

The sentence had to do with the city initiating an update to the La Jolla Community Plan to implement some of the ideas in the parks master plan draft. It read: “Since redefining these uses will require a renewed La Jolla Community Plan (which is already dated), we hope the city will initiate an update to enable the La Jolla Community Planning Association to assist us in advancing the parks master plan when adopted.”

LJCPA trustee Kathleen Neil said at the June 4 meeting that any update to the Community Plan should “come from LJCPA, not the city.”

La Jollan Melinda Merryweather, who helped author the Community Plan decades ago, added that it “shouldn’t be touched without years of looking at it. It’s a bad and scary move to make right now.”

After a lengthy discussion, trustee Helen Boyden moved that LJCPA ask the other groups that signed the letter to revise it by removing the sentence and resubmit the letter. The motion passed unanimously.

The letter was then revised and submitted with the addition of LJCPA’s signature.

The La Jolla Shores Association voted unanimously at its June 10 meeting to approve the revision and add LJCPA as a supporter.

Friends of Coast Walk Trail President Brenda Fake told the Light that while “an updated Community Plan is long overdue for La Jolla … it is clear ownership of the La Jolla Community Plan belongs to the CPA. My hope is the city will initiate an update to the 16-year-old Community Plan to enable the CPA to assist in advancing the parks master plan, because it is very good.”

At the June 11 La Jolla Town Council meeting, Parks & Beaches President Ann Dynes said that although the revised letter was sent without the “contentious section … in my opinion, we’re going to have to think about that Community Plan. It’s already outdated in lots of ways.”

John Newsam, president of the Bird Rock Community Council, said: “A consistent and coherent view across the various facets of La Jolla is, I think, important. Specific to Bird Rock, much of our priority is on maintaining and improving the various overlooks that provide magnificent ocean vistas. We are deficient across La Jolla generally in our open space areas and in the areas dedicated to parks.”

City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry told the Town Council that the draft parks master plan is tied into a new planning document called “Complete Communities,” an amendment to the municipal code with “detailed and specific ordinances that address housing, mobility, parks and infrastructure.”

Bry said the draft parks master plan will “eventually … come to the City Council” through a committee and that she is studying both the parks master plan and Complete Communities “very carefully.” ◆