La Jolla Rec Center renovation gets approval from Community Planning Association

The proposed transformation of the La Jolla Recreation Center (middle) is shown in a rendering.
The proposed transformation of the La Jolla Recreation Center (middle) is shown in a rendering.

The proposed development has received the green light from all local planning boards.


The planned La Jolla Recreation Center renovation achieved a clean sweep in conceptual approval from local community planning groups when the La Jolla Community Planning Association gave unanimous approval during its Aug. 6 meeting.

The design plans have been making the rounds and were approved earlier by the La Jolla Recreation Advisory Group Visioning Committee, Development Permit Review Committee, La Jolla Parks & Beaches, La Jolla Planned District Ordinance Committee and La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board.

As part of the renovation project for the 105-year-old Rec Center at 615 Prospect St., La Jolla architect Trace Wilson was tasked with upgrading the building and playground while maintaining historical elements protected under the La Jolla Community Plan.

The outdoor recreation space would be rearranged to move the basketball courts toward the tennis courts at the La Jolla Tennis Club, develop a T-shaped playground with new ocean-themed equipment closer to the front of the building, improve seating and add a trellis element for shade with a variety of trees.

Changes to the building would include a stairway and/or elevator to increase access to the mezzanine level and a rooftop deck overlooking the ocean and play fields. Wilson also suggests opening the basement for use.

As part of the renovation, the Traffic & Transportation Board approved a request to vacate the small portion of Cuvier Street between the Rec Center and The Bishop’s School to increase Rec Center play space, and convert the parallel parking spaces on Prospect Street to diagonal.

The street vacation was approved on the Community Planning Association consent agenda without discussion.

The preliminary proposed site plan for the La Jolla Recreation Center, as announced in February.
The preliminary proposed site plan for the La Jolla Recreation Center, announced in February, includes: A) two new bocce courts along Prospect Street; B) vacating Cuvier Street to create more park space; C) better shade throughout; D) a new unified playground space; E) moving the basketball courts.

Brian Williams of The Bishop’s School said he was “very excited” about the project moving forward.

LJCPA President Diane Kane has been helping with the project by providing historical background. She said she was seeking to see if there are “any major hiccups that people would like to see addressed so we don’t get blindsided as we go forward with the planning.”

LJCPA trustee Jim Fitzgerald noted there is currently one Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant parking space and wheelchair-accessible entrance to the Rec Center and that he would like to see improved access added to the plans.

Following the board’s vote, Wilson told the Light: “I think the process has been positive because an ad-hoc [Recreation Center] Vision Committee was formed three years ago to focus on a larger master plan for the site. There has been an appropriate amount of time to do the proper research; meet our neighbors; understand community requests, needs and wants. We have listened to what the community desires in terms of an upgraded building and playground area — and it has come with some very upfront and honest debate about what is best for the site and for the people of La Jolla. We want the Rec Center to continue as a gem of our Village, and for the city, for many decades to come.”

“The next steps,” he said, “are to dive into further design detail, begin the vacation process for Cuvier Street with The Bishop’s School and with the city of San Diego. And we will begin our fundraising efforts. We will begin to meet with various city departments to make sure we are partnered with the right groups to ensure a smooth approval process. We are excited for the next steps and know there is still a tremendous amount of work to do. We sincerely appreciate the outpouring of positive response from La Jolla.”

Other LJCPA news

Cass Street vacation denied: A request to vacate a portion of Cass Street and a portion of the alley abutting 990 Van Nuys St. to assist with a development project planned there was unanimously denied.

A request to vacate a portion of Cass Street at Van Nuys Street was denied by the La Jolla Community Planning Association.

Vacate typically means a government transfers the right of way of a public street to a private property owner.

The request was heard at the July 16 Development Permit Review Committee meeting, where the board voted it down, saying the proposal doesn’t meet the standards in the San Diego municipal code for a street vacation, such as having a public benefit (trustees argued that only the property owner would benefit) and that the vacation would not adversely affect any applicable land-use plan. Trustees also said it would be inappropriate for the city to relinquish rights to the area and that the vacation would interfere with nearby property owners’ access.

LJCPA ratified the findings on similar grounds.

Short-term rentals: Steve Hadley, representing the office of San Diego City Council member Barbara Bry, whose district includes La Jolla, said the city would be cracking down on short-term rental properties that are not enforcing social-distancing regulations.

“[Bry] is trying to get the county’s task force on COVID-19 to come out and do some enforcement where we have the most egregious [areas, especially] businesses or where we have short-term vacation rentals,” Hadley said. “There aren’t many of them, but they are bringing in a lot of people every weekend that cannot be from the same household. They are totally ignoring our social-distance and mask-wearing regulations.”

The La Jolla Community Planning Association next meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, online. Learn more at ◆