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La Jolla Rec Center offers reminders of allowed uses and coronavirus safety guidelines

The La Jolla Recreation Center playgrounds are closed off by plastic orange fencing, with signs prohibiting their use.
The La Jolla Recreation Center playgrounds are closed off by plastic orange fencing, with signs prohibiting their use. Other Rec Center grounds are open, however.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Though the La Jolla Recreation Center remains closed for most of its usual activities, as it has been since stay-at-home orders went into effect nearly six months ago, its fields and ball courts permit “passive use” by those who adhere to social distancing and other public health guidelines for the coronavirus pandemic, staff said during the Sept. 2 meeting of the La Jolla Community Recreation Group (formerly the Recreation Advisory Group).

Rec Center Director Jesse DeLille specified that passive use is small groups using the open areas for casual, “not organized” activity.

For the record:

10:50 AM, Sep. 04, 2020This article has been corrected with the Community Recreation Group’s current name.

People may “shoot on the basketball hoops, they can do exercise in the field or play catch, as long as they’re sticking to those protocols of six feet apart and masks within six feet,” DeLille said. Visitors can enter through the Prospect Street gates.

San Diego Parks & Recreation Department area manager Rosalia Castruita said “they have to adhere to social distance guidelines, make sure it’s the same household, or not a large group. [People] should follow county guidelines to make sure it’s safe.”

Those who want to use the center’s recently striped pickleball courts, two of which are laid over the repaved basketball courts, must bring their own nets. The Rec Center is “not checking out equipment for pickleball at this time,” Castruita said, “until our department reopens the recreation centers.”

CRG Chairwoman Mary Coakley Munk said, “I’ve heard from numerous people who have played pickleball at the center and brought their own nets, and they say it’s great.”

“I’m so glad,” Castruita said. “We’re really limited with what activities we can play right now, so I’m glad to hear they’re enjoying the amenities.”

DeLille said “a group or two each day” uses the pickleball courts and that other people play catch, shoot hoops and walk their dogs.

The Rec Center playgrounds remain closed, however. “We don’t have any guidelines to be able to reopen them safely,” Castruita said, adding that there’s no way to wipe down or disinfect the equipment between uses.

“Right now, the [parks] department doesn’t have any playground open, and we don’t have a target date” to reopen, she said.

DeLille said the gates along Draper Avenue are locked, and there is caution tape and plastic orange fencing around the playgrounds, along with signs prohibiting use.

The measures don’t entirely discourage people from breaking the rules. “We’ve done our due diligence and the best we can to keep them closed,” DeLille said. “No one can pretend they did not know they were closed. Are people still jumping over to play on them anyway? Yeah, it’s happened.”

Other CRG news

Park permits: Following an Aug. 18 mayoral order to allow businesses to use parks, Castruita said the Rec Center is taking permit applications for “yoga, any fitness class, worship or church gatherings,” with worship gatherings limited to 100 people and exercise gatherings limited to 49.

DeLille said the Rec Center has received park permit applications for “adult exercise and yoga classes. We’re also about to probably [approve] two permits for youth basketball and also probably a permit for a nonprofit organization that runs PE classes for La Jolla Elementary School.”

“As long as they check all the boxes and follow all the safety protocols, those will proceed,” DeLille said.

City arborists recently removed a stone pine tree outside the La Jolla Rec Center because of safety concerns.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Stone pine tree removed: The “leaning tree” in front of meeting rooms on Prospect Street has been removed, Castruita said, referring to the stone pine that stood just outside the Rec Center. “Our arborist noticed that it became a safety factor, and this week they took out the tree stump.”

Castruita showed the CRG board photos of replacement tree options, such as jacaranda and cassia, for the members to look over and decide at their next meeting which tree to plant. Castruita said those trees were recommended by an arborist for being “climate-friendly.”

Visioning Committee update: CRG member Jill Peters, who also serves on the Visioning Committee charged with designing plans for a Rec Center renovation, said the committee has met with “most of the community groups in La Jolla. We’ve gotten really positive feedback and support from all the groups.”

The renovation’s design plans have received conceptual approval from the Visioning Committee, the La Jolla Community Planning Association, Development Permit Review Committee, Parks & Beaches, Planned District Ordinance Committee and Traffic & Transportation Board.

Peters said committee member and architect Trace Wilson met with La Jolla Tennis Club board members, as the tennis club is adjacent to the Rec Center and club members use the Rec Center bathrooms.

“They would like to be involved in our project as well,” Peters said, adding that club board members and Visioning Committee members aim to have a “more cohesive design between the tennis club and the Rec Center.”

The CRG board requested a formal presentation of the Rec Center renovation at the group’s next meeting, with a vote on the project slated for October.

CRG’s next meeting is at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23. For information, call (858) 552-1658. ◆